Tips on Focused Searching

Knowing what kind of search you’re doing will help you focus on the best strategy for finding what you want.

  • Page Hunt

You’re looking for a page you’ve looked at before. Try to remember specific, distinctive details from the page. These can be unusual phrases, something in the title or the URL, or specific names. Then use operators to  narrow your search to just that page, for example putting a remembered phrase in quotes, or using intitle with part of the title.

  • Fishing Expedition

When you want to learn more about a subject, without a specific question to answer. The best place to start is on a reference site with authority, like wikipedia for general knowledge, or MSDN for windows development. Use the site operator to restrict your search to those sites, and the ‘|’ or operator to widen your search to cover many common terms that might be used in a introductory article.

  • Search for Answers

You have an exact question you need to know the answer to. Think of how the answer is likely to be phrased, and then do a quoted search for that phrase with the ‘*’ wildcard symbol where the answer should be. For example "* was the first king of england". Look for places where such questions are commonly asked and answered, such as FAQs, specialist mailing lists and forums, usenet, and answer sites.

  • Detective Work

There’s a person or company you need more information on. Try to gather as much identifying information as you can before you search. If they have a website, you can use a whois tool to get real-world contact information. Search for a name in quotes, a website address, their username, email address or any other identifying features you can find. Do a search restricted to their domain using the site operator, to find any information there. Look through blogs using something like technorati, to find out what people are saying about the person or company. Search press releases for a company name. But remember, the internet is full of incorrect information, so make sure you use a reliable second-source before you take any serious action on it.

More Search Tips…

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