The Top Ten Web Search Tricks Everyone Should Know

Was this page helpful?
01
of 10

Web Search 101: The Top Ten Web Search Tricks

top 10 search tips

Ever been frustrated with your Web search results? Sure, we've all been there! In order to search the Web more effectively, there are a few basic skills that you need to learn to make your searches less frustrating and more successful. In this article, we'll go over the top ten most basic Web search shortcuts that will make your searches more successful by bringing back relevant results the first time you use them. 

These are tried and true web search methods that will work in virtually any search engine and directory.Here are a few basic web search skills you need to have in order to have truly successful web searches. All of these tips can be used by anyone regardless of skill level. 

02
of 10

Use quotes to locate a specific phrase

top ten search tips

Probably one of the number one things that have saved me some serious Web search time over the years is the simplest - and that's searching for a phrase by putting it in quotes.

When you use quotation marks around a phrase, you are telling the search engine to only bring back pages that include these search terms exactly how you typed them in order, proximity, etc. This tip works in almost every search engine and is very successful in bringing back hyper-focused results. If you're looking for an exact phrase, put it in quotes. Otherwise, you'll come back with a huge jumble of results. 

Here's an example: "long haired cats." Your search will come back with these three words in proximity to each other and in the order you intended them to be, rather than scattered willy-nilly on the site.

03
of 10

Use Google to search within a site

top ten search tips

If you've ever tried to use a website's native search tool to find something, and haven't been successful, you definitely are not alone! You can use Google to search within a site, and since most site search tools just aren't that great, this is a good way to find what you're looking for with a minimum of fuss. This is a great way to easily find what you're looking for. Simply use this command within Google's search bar to search within a site: the word "site", then a colon, then the URL of the website you'd like to search within. For example; site:websearch.about.com "how to find people" plugged into Google will bring back search results only from this domain that are related to finding people online

04
of 10

Find words within a Web address

top ten web search tips

You can actually search within a Web address using the "inurl" command via Google; this allows you to search for words within the URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. This is just another interesting way to search the Web and find Web sites that you might not have found by just entering in a query word or phrase. For example, if you only want to find results from sites that have the word "marshmellow" in their URL, you would plug this query into Google's search bar: inurl:marshmellow. Your search results will only contain websites with that word in their URL. 

05
of 10

Use basic math to narrow down your search results

top ten search tips

Another Web search trick that's deceptively simple is using addition and subtraction to make your search results more relevant. Basic math can really help you in your search quest (your teachers always told you that someday you would use math in real life, right?). This is called Boolean search and is one of the guiding principles behind the way most search engines frame their search results. 

For example, you are searching for Tom Ford, but you get lots of results for Ford Motors. Easy - just combine a couple of Web search basics here to get your results: "tom ford" -motors. Now your results will come back without all those pesky car results.

06
of 10

Limit your searches to a specific high level domain

top ten search tips

If you'd like to limit your searches to a specific domain, such as .edu, .org, .gov, and more, you can use the site: command to accomplish this. This works in most popular search engines and is a great way to narrow your searches to a very particular level. For example, say you only wanted to search U.S. government-related sites for something. You could limit your search results to only government sites simply by typing site:.gov "my query". This will bring back results only from sites that are in the .gov high-level domain. 

07
of 10

Use more than one search engine

top ten search tips

Don't fall into the rut of using one search engine for all your search needs. Every search engine returns different results. Plus, there are many search engines that focus on specific niches: games, blogs, books, forums, etc. The more comfortable you are with a good variety of search engines, the more successful your searches are going to be. Check out this list of search engines for a wide variety of what you can use the next time you're looking for something. 

It's easy to skim the surface of your favorite search engine and only use the most prominent features; however, most search engines have a wide variety of advanced search options, tools, and services that are only available to those dedicated searchers that take the time to search 'em out. All of these options are for your benefit - and can help make your searches more productive.

In addition, if you're just starting out learning how to search the Web, it's easy to be overwhelmed with just the sheer amount of information that is available to you, especially if you're searching for something very specific. Don't give up! Keep trying, and don't be afraid to try new search engines, new Web search phrase combinations, new Web search techniques, etc.

08
of 10

Find a word on a Web page

top ten search tips

Say you're looking for a specific concept or topic, perhaps someone's name, or a business, or a particular phrase. You plug your search into your favorite search engine, click on a few pages, and scroll laboriously through tons of content to find what you're looking for. Right?

Not necessarily. You can use an extremely simple web search shortcut to search for a word on a webpage, and this will work in any browser you might be using. Here we go:

CTRL +F, then type in the word you're looking for at the bottom of your browser in the search field that pops up. Simple as that, and you can use it in any Web browser, on any website.

09
of 10

Widen the net with a wildcard search

top ten search tips

You can use "wildcard" characters to throw a broader search net in most search engines and directories. These wildcard characters include *, #, and ? with the asterisk being the most common. Use wildcards when you want to broaden your search. For example, if you are looking for sites that discuss trucking, don't search for the truck, search for truck*. This will return pages that contain the word "truck" as well as pages that contain "trucks", "trucking", "truck enthusiasts", "trucking industry", and so on.

10
of 10

Be specific

top ten search tips

 The more narrowed down you can get your Web searches from the beginning, the more successful your Web search usually will be. For example, if you were searching for "coffee", you'd get way more results back than you could use; however, if you narrowed that down to "roasted Arabica coffee in Detroit Michigan", you'd be more successful.