How to Search Better: Three Mistakes To Avoid

Woman with head inside laptop


Tim Robberts / Getty Images

We all want our searches to be successful, and all of us want to learn how to search better - that's why you're here! Have you ever been frustrated when you've tried to search the Web? Some of this frustration comes from simple searching mistakes that are easy to make for both the beginning and experienced searcher. Simply avoiding these common pitfalls while searching the Web can instantly make your searches much more effective. Here are three common search mistakes that many people make when first beginning to learn to search the Web. 

Mix Up the Address and Search Input Fields

Getting the address and search input fields mixed up is pretty easy; in fact, it's a mistake that many people make even if they are experienced Web searchers. The address box and search box are two very different things. Yes, they are both (usually) at the top of your browser, especially if you have a search engine toolbar installed, but that's where the similarity ends.

Addresses, as in URL addresses, go in the address input box. The address box is at the top of your browser and will usually be labeled "address." An address is basically a website's location on the Web, and looks like this:

  • or

The search input area will usually be lower on your browser toolbar, and won't always be clearly labeled. Only search words or phrases should be directed into the search box; not URLs. Obviously, it's not the end of the world if you mix up these two query fields, but it does take up time and energy.

Some browsers, like chrome, allow you to search from the address input field now, so this is less of a concern.

Search With The Wrong Tools

You wouldn't use a hammer to cut your toenails, right? It's also easy to use the wrong tool for searching, and make the search process longer and less effective. Eventually, you'll still get to what you're looking for, but using the right tools from the very beginning will streamline the process.

The first thing you'll want to do is decide whether or not you're going to use a search engine, a directory, a metasearch engine, etc. In a nutshell, subject directories are put together by human editors and don't always return as many results as search engines do. Search engines have huge databases that use spiders to collect their results, and therefore have many more search results available for you.

Subject directories cover only a small part of the Net, but their information is usually very dependable since it's first looked at by actual humans. Search engines cover much more of the Web's information and return many more results, but since this information is indexed by impartial software, you won't always get the specific results you're looking for. A good, general, common sense approach is to start with a large search engine such as Google and then branch out with some of the niche engines and directories. Start big and narrow down, basically.

Expect Instant Success, Or Give Up

One last newbie search mistake is expecting instant success when searching the Web. If you're an experienced searcher you know that while the search process has come a long way, it still takes a bit of effort to find exactly what you are looking for, especially if what you are looking for is highly specialized. The best thing to do when searching the Web is to be patient. The more you learn how to narrow your searches down, the faster and more enjoyable the process will become. In fact, you might start enjoying the hunt more than the actual results.

Here are some articles that can help you streamline your searches:

  • Web Search 101 - How to Search The Web: Learn how to search the Web faster, make your Web searches more efficient, learn about search engines, and become a more precise Web searcher.
  • Search Engines 101 - How To Pick A Search Engine: Pick the best search engine for your searching needs with Search Engines 101, a great way to explore more of your search topic, try a new search engine, and search more of the Web.
  • The Invisible Web: What is the Invisible Web, and how do you find it? Find out the basic definition of the Invisible Web and learn how to search its resources.