Friday, July 08, 2005

Quit wasting time searching the web

Ever been looking for something specific on the web, and just had a frustrating time finding that one fact? Here is a process you can follow to quit wasting time searching the web - developed out of a compuiter training class I taught for several years at mount de Sales Academy and Mercer University:

Step 1. Know EXACTLY what you are looking for.

You can't vaguely look for "something about cars" and expect to get anywhere - unless you are in "just browsing" mode, the on-line version of mall windowshopping. You need to be looking for something - MPG rating of a Toyota Camry, or used car lot in Atlanta, for example.

Step 2. Phrase your search in the form of a question - either on paper or in your head.

I suggest on paper the first dozen times you do this. For eaxmple, "what is a current value of a 1967 Volkswagen squareback?".

Step 3. Underline the important words in that question.

current value 1967 volkswagen squareback

This gives you the keywords you'll use in the search engine entry box.

Step 4: Decide on the search engine and search type you need to use.
Most people, of course, like Google and Yahoo. I prefer Metacrawler, because it searches several engines for you, and returns the top results.

There are 3+1 search types: AND (require the presence of all the keywords on the webpage for it to be counted as a hit), OR (any of 'em will do), and PHRASE (has to have the words in that exact order to be counted). The "plus 1" refers to NOT (don't count a page as a hit if it contains this word).

Example: ford wagon "Oregon Trail" NOT car NOT engine NOT michigan

Step 5: Do the search!