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Why isn’t search finding what I want?!

Published onDec 24, 2019
Why isn’t search finding what I want?!

You might be saying…

“Search doesn’t understand me! Why isn’t it finding what I want?!”

How to keep calm and log on

  • First, make sure you’re actually using a search engine. (I know, I know—this seems basic. Bear with me.) That bar at the top of your internet window works best when you’re entering addresses: stuff that ends in .com or something similar. If you rely on the address bar, you may end up being sent to some really poor-quality search engines (like the one your internet service provider defaults to). Go directly to the search page, like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo for best results. (DuckDuckGo offers the bonus of not storing your personal information, unlike other search engines.)

  • Try slightly longer searches. People’s searches have historically averaged about two words, which doesn’t help clarify the context of what you’re looking for. Getting past that two-word threshold should get you closer to, say, ruby birthstone rings than the to programming language known as Ruby.

  • Try using advanced search options in your favorite search engine or even on social media sites — poke around near “search” until you find the advanced options, they should be pretty easy to find. Advanced search can help you:

    • narrow down the search to a particular time period

    • look only on a particular site

    • specify an exact phrase

  • Check out these materials on how to search better from Google.

For more background on how search works, order a copy of Keep Calm and Log On.

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