Search Like A Geek
Some people search the Web like a Neanderthal standing before the Library of Congress steps grunting, ?Me want food!? While other, more sophisticated searchers, act more like a person actually entering the Library of Congress, approaching the librarian, and saying, ?Pardon me, please lead me to your books on agriculture and growing food, and while you?re at it, please show me your books on fine dining in the Washington D.C. area.?. Who would you rather be?
Back in high school there was the ?in-crowd?, often populated by the jocks, and then there were the geeks, among other social clicks. Today, many of those ?geeks? are wildly successful; while some of those unfortunate others are asking us if we?d like fries with our burgers.
So it?s not so bad being a geek today, especially since so much of our lives and economy are dominated by computers, software and the Internet. It is wise to learn how to use the Internet as best you can. By understanding how search engines and directories work, like many geeks already do, you will find the information you?re looking for more easily, quickly and with a lot less frustration. Knowing how to pinpoint specific bits of information quickly will give you an advantage over most other people who do not have these skills. And this advantage can turn into big money by saving you time in your day to day business. And learning about how to search will help in your search engine optimization efforts if you run your own website too.
So, I invite you to pull up your pants to make high-waters, apply some masking tape to the bridge of your eye glasses, and insert a pocket protector in your front shirt pocket, and join me in learning how to search like a geek.
The more appropriate words you use the better.
Let?s say I want to find tickets to a new Broadway musical show called Wicked next weekend in New York City. If you just type the word ?tickets? into Google?s search box, you?ll get 99.6 million results, which is very unwieldy. The first result is ticketmaster.com. It took 4 clicks for me to get to their listing of Wicked tickets, but they were out of inventory up to 6 weeks from now, so it was a dead end since I want to go next weekend.
The next result was Tickets.com, and when I searched for Wicked on their site I found tickets available to Wicked in Toronto only. Another dead end, I need tickets to the NYC production.
The third result only sold airline and cruise tickets, not what I?m looking for either. After clicking on another 4 websites, I still hadn?t found what I was looking for. I was getting frustrated, impatient and was just about ready to toss my PC out my window and give up totally.
If instead, I used a few more appropriate words in my search, my results would have been much better. I tried typing the words ?new york city broadway wicked musical tickets? in the Google search box and came up with 230,000 results instead of 99 million, which is slightly more manageable.
The first result was www.musicalschwartz.com which offered ?Ticket Tips - Wicked on Broadway, Seating info?. So I clicked on that and learned a number of things about purchasing Broadway tickets, NYC travel tips and other information on Wicked the musical.
The next two Google results were http://www.eagletickets.com and http://www.bestshowticketslasvegas.com, and they both offered tickets for the Broadway musical Wicked in New York City on the weekend I wanted. So by carefully choosing appropriate words to search with and using more than one or two words, I found what I was looking for much more easily and quickly than just searching using the word ?tickets?.
I am not suggesting you use lots and lots of words willy nilly. The best method is to think of very specific words related to what you?re looking for, be a little creative, and watch what order you put the words in. Searching for ?broadway wicked musical tickets? and ?tickets broadway wicked musical? will give you different results.
Never search using one word. Avoid only using two words. Try to use 3-7 words. This search rule follows the law of diminishing returns however. So searching using 25 words will probably get you little or no results. So there is a ?sweet spot? you?ll have to discover for any given search, but it is almost always using more than 1-2 words.
Use more than one search engine.
When I search on the Web, I use more than one browser and more than one search engine or directory. The difference between the two is that search engines are run automatically while directories are run by humans. Google is a search engine and show search results of websites that no one has actually looked at in advance. Directories on the other hand contain websites that have actually been reviewed by a person. Therefore, the results you get will differ. A good list of directories can be found at http://www.directoryarchives.com.
Open up your browser and click on ?File? in the top left of your browser and select ?New? > ?Window?. Do this a couple of times until you have three or more browsers open on your desktop at the same time. Choose your search words carefully, use more than two words and try the same exact phrase in Yahoo, MSN, Google, and a favorite directory using a different browser for each. That way you can compare results to find the best ones. You can also try a new site I found called http://yagoohoogle.com which lets you perform a simultaneous search on both Google and Yahoo.
Use modifiers in your searches.
Going back to the tickets example, let?s say I wanted to find airline tickets, but each time I performed a search on tickets, most of the results had to do with sports and theater tickets. I could weed out all those irrelevant results by using the minus (-) sign next to the word ?theater?.
Bad search: tickets
Better search: tickets to New York
Even better search: airline tickets to New York ?theater
So if you are getting a lot of extraneous results in your searches, try adding a minus sign to words you don?t want showing up in your results.
Another good tip is using quotes around your phrases. By doing this you are telling the search engine to find the exact phrase and in the order you are specifying. By adding quotes, you are being much more specific. You?ll get very different results using quotes. If you searched for ?2005 NBA playoff tickets? (without quotes) you are asking the search engine to look for sites that have the words 2005, NBA, playoff, and tickets associated with them. So you will probably come up with airline tickets, football playoff information, NBA history and so forth. If you put quotes around your phrase you?ll get much closer to what you want.
Use the ?Find? function.
Trust me; this one suggestion is worth the price of admission alone. You will save lots of valuable time if you do this. Ever get to a Web page that has a lot of text on it, and quickly scanning the page doesn?t immediately produce what you?re looking for? In fact, the scanning just makes you dizzy.
Try this: while holding down your ?Ctrl? key hit your ?F? key (this works on PCs only). A ?Find? dialog box should pop up. Simply type the word or phrase you?re looking for in the box and hit ?Enter? and it will immediately find each and every instance of it on the Web page you?re on. This will truly save you time if you remember to use it.
One can get lost on the Net. There is so much information, and almost all of it is not applicable to what you want at any given time. If you use the Net for your business, pinpointing appropriate and relevant information quickly will put you ahead of the pack every time. By following these simple suggestions, you will find more accurate results which will reduce your frustration, save you time, and give you an edge over others who are still searching for information like a caveman at the steps of a library.
Article by Jason O'Connor
About the Author: Jason OConnor owns and operates Oak Web Works, LLC http://www.OakWebWorks.com - the synthesis of Web marketing, design, and technology. Jason also runs http://www.BestShowTicketsLasVegas.com where you can buy Las Vegas, Broadway Show & Concert Tour Tickets. mailto: email@example.com