So you think you can search the internet? - I bet you haven’t got a clue any of the next 10 tips

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence”

8 mins read

O ne of the most  educative and defining learning tools this generation can comfortably boast about are the numerous internet search engines and maybe even apps that allows you to get immediate response to enquiries on just about anything.

Many times I’ve wondered if google was just as widespread and accessible during my teenage years decades ago as it is right now, how much better my generation (GenX by the way) would have been. We were a generation deeply mired by limited learning resource. The last generation to glean information tortuously over dusty pages of outdated textbooks and to carry a library card as though it was some form of identity. But still we had an insatiable desire to learn. We craved for information but they weren’t as easy to get as these days.

Imagine how difficult it was making phone calls! Okay don’t even imagine. It already feels like Stone Age. We will save that discussion for some other time.

Part of being a great researcher is knowing how to make the best use of all the educational resources you have at your disposal. But there is one resource you might not be making the most of and this is the greatest repository of knowledge in the history of mankind. Can you guess? Google.

Google is the world’s largest search engine- They say you can find almost any information on google. But that is a double edged sword. It takes skills to use it properly. You don’t want to spend hours and hours surfing through search results looking for the specific information you need.

With skilled searching you will be able to quickly find what you need and thereby speed up your learning.

Today, despite the abundance of information and the amount of open resources available everywhere on the internet, there are interesting techniques that can make your search for information yield better results and quickly too.

Most people simply type in a string of words on the home page of google and wait for the search results and then literally saunter through hordes of unnecessary results looking for the most useful one.

But this isn’t an effective technique for getting a better search result. This article will make you a much better researcher by learning a few tricks or two.

Let’s dive in;

Tip 1- Use multiple keywords.

You can immediately start getting better search results if you use multiple keywords.

If you are interested in finding great dog videos, don’t just search for dogs, make a list of related words like dog, running, funny, barking. Don’t go writing an entire sentence like “ I want to see a dog running”

You are not asking a person, but sending a query to a search engine, and you have to think like google thinks. And google thinks in terms of tag, keywords, and classifiers.

Tip 2 – Use quotation marks

If you are looking for something specific that you have seen before and you remember the exact phrase involved, use that specific phrase, and put it in quotation marks. That way google will search for that exact string rather than breaking them up into individual words.

You need to find that song you just heard on the radio? Search for a little bit of the lyrics in quote and you will find it.

This tip is especially helpful if you are searching for a concept that is easily confused with something else. If you find that you are not getting the results you need try include in quotes.

Searching with quotation marks also works great for names, you have a much better chance of finding a person on the internet if you put their entire name in quotation marks otherwise you are actually searching for the parts of the name separately and all the combination of those terms.

Tip 3 – Use the minus operator – To exclude

For example, use West Africa – Nigeria, if you want to find out all the information about West Africa and you want to exclude all the other information about Nigeria. Make sure the minus sign is right next to the word you want to exclude.

You can also exclude the phrase by putting it in quotes.

Quotes are the best!!

Tip 4 – Use the OR operator.

This is used when a couple of different things would do the trick and you’d be happy with either. Google allows you to search for both words at the same time using this operator. You can get the same result with a vertical bar.  “|”

Tip 5 – Use the number range operator

What if you want to buy a car but you only have 1m bucks and someone told you that you really need to spend at least 2m bucks to get a decent used car.

You can search for “used car” N1,000,000..N2,000,000.

This works greats for dates too – “Music” 1972..1985

Tip 6 – Use the site: Operator

This one is a real powerhouse searching tip. If you are looking for great astronomy photos and you don’t want pictures of aliens from the history channel, go straight to the source and search NASA directly.

Type in Site:nasa.gov horsehead nebula

Tip 7 – Use DEFINE

You are not sure what a word means, you don’t have to call up the dictionary or go dictionary website.

Type in Define: aggravate

Google will return a definition as well as a derivation including timeline of how commonly this word has been used.

Tip 8 – Use the AROUND operator

This is a way to find articles that contain two terms which are not necessarily next to each other in a sentence.

For instance

“Akin Akingbogun” AROUND(10) “LBS”

This would allow you find article about Akin Akingbogun having to do with the time he spent in LBS or wrote about LBS. The word LBS will appear within 10 words of the phrase Akin Akingbogun.

Note that this operator is very picky about quotes and spacing.

Both search terms has to be in quotes and the number in parenthesis () with no spaces!

Yes! It’s finicky but this operator produces great results!

Tip 9 – Use the WILDCARD Operator – an asterisks *

This is another great one to use to find songs or other things you can’t quite remember.

Using an asterisks after a word string will allow google search for the possible results with the word string.

Tip 10 – Use the FILETYPE operator

This is my most frequently used tip!

You can use this operator to tell google to only return certain types of files… PDF, JPEG, PPT.

What if you want an audio recording of your favorite poem and not a written page?

Search “the raven” filetype mp3

We have such a wealth of information available to us and we shouldn’t take it for granted. We can learn faster than ever before. Take advantage of this incredible gift . Making the most of your resources is an important part of being a great researcher.

I will send my invoice after you have tried this.

Never more would you be troubled by bad search results!

Never More!