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Search Engine Tutorial

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There are a gazillion Web pages out there - no exaggeration. Most of us can't even find the letter "z" on the keyboard. That's where search engines come in. The problem with search engines isn't that they don't find the info you want but that they find too much info. Keep reading to find out how to narrow down your search and find exactly what you're looking for.

So how do search engines work? Search engines put together a database of sites by sending "spiders" or "robots" to crawl through the Web, going from link to link. When spiders get to a Web site, they index most of the words on the available pages. When you use a search engine, the engine scans its database of sites to match your keywords to those same keywords in pages in the database.

Basic Search Tips

It's easy to improve your search results. All you need to know are some basics. Some search engines have menus to do this but for others you have to enter the right commands. The following basic commands should be plenty of info for most people and should work in most of the major search engines.

Be Specific

The more specific you are, the more info you'll find. Tell the search engine exactly what you're looking for. For example, if you're looking for science experiments, enter School Science Fair Projects instead of science projects. If you know it's a chemistry experiment, add the word chemistry to your search.

The + Symbol

Put the most important terms in your search first. To make sure the search finds pages with all the words you're looking for, put the + symbol in front of each word. For example, if you're looking for info on Britney and Justin (like if they're still together) then enter +Britney +Justin. Only pages that have both words will be on the list.

The - Symbol

If you're looking for something specific but don't want tons of other info that's not related to your topic, use the - symbol. For example, if you're looking for info on Tony Hawk but don't wanna read about his games, enter Tony Hawk -Pro -Skater -game -Playstation.

Using Quotation Marks

When you put your search terms in quotation marks, it's called a "phrase search." The search engine will give you pages that have the terms in the exact order of the words in quotations. For example, if you're looking specifically for a biography on Sarah Michelle Gellar, enter "Sarah Michelle Gellar Biography" and see what comes up.

Combining Symbols

Once you know how the above symbols work, try combining them to narrow down your search. A better search, than using a bunch of subtractions, might be to do the following: "Kylie Minoque" -Fever -"CD Review"

Booleans

Booleans (pronounced boo lee ans) can be used in most major search engines when they allow some kind of advanced searching. The most popular boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. Booleans are a lot like the + and - symbols. AND means "include all of the words," OR means "include any of the words" and NOT means "exclude." For example, if you're looking for info on music and dancing enter music AND dancing. Your search will bring back sites that only include both those words.

For more tips, info and Web sites, click here.

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