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How to Search the Net

When I first started computer geeking around, not too terribly long back, I was incredibly inept at the whole process. With the concept of useful technology well beyond me, and as well, my inflexibility over learning to interact with a machine stunting my growth, ineffective would be the best description of my abilities at that time. This was before I even knew what a search engine was, and after all the stress of even turning on the computer, much less pulling up an Internet page, I would just look for the first blank box that would take typing.  Clumsy first steps, yes, but it actually worked quite well and some of the results were amazing. Early on, a friend recommended Google.com as a search engine and that was actually one of my very first searches. I carefully followed the directions and even made the Internet open with Google as the home page. Wow, talk about running before you can even walk. I’m still impressed to this day.

Soon, when I had a need to know anything, including time and temperature, and atmospheric conditions, I learned to go straight to the Internet. It was all in front of me, games and entertainment, recipes and classes. Anything up for argument could be settled with just a little research. I could educate myself on a variety of subjects and soon I didn’t need my dictionary for word spellings or a newspaper for the news.  On my monitor was genealogy information, maps and directions, government officials and utility companies, the list goes on and on. I could take a look at anything I could conceive.

It was too much and I was mad with the power. I had found the ultimate library in the sky. There were choices and variety; but too, a mountain of garbage to wade through.  Much of it was, of course, advertising clutter. But it wasn’t just the advertising; there was a lot of extraneous, barely related material, then there was at the core a thoroughly compiled listing of many sources, not just one or two, but as many as a search engine could grab up. As it turns out, a search engine is limited only by the user.

I lost a lot of time during my initial searches simply because of the garbage mountain. I could find things all right, just way more than I could read or investigate. So I needed to make it usable. I needed to see the best only. Of course that happens somewhat naturally because of the popularity rating when a search is done. Common sense says that the websites most visited, or most popular, are going to be the ones with the best information. That would be search results 1 – 10, or results 1 – 3 if you’ve really got no patience.

There are paid listings and free listings, from the advertiser’s point of view. The sponsored links are the paid ones. But what does that mean when you are actually looking for something? I can only suppose they are paying for the privilege of being at the top of the list; however, my belief is that if someone is being charged for their listing, their definite intent is to sell something to the searcher.  Most times I just want information, nothing more. Occasionally I do check out a couple of sponsored links, just to do a quick comparison or to check out more sources.

It’s very important to narrow down your subject. Key words are used to search, say you need to see what kind of shots your dog needs. If you start your search with a very broad category such as ‘dogs’, you’ll get not only health information, but categories such as supplies, breeds, studies, movies, etc. Pick your direction. There were 553 million results for the word ‘dog’ on Google. Be more specific about what you want, search for ‘dog shots’. The results are much better because they’re more to the subject, which it turns out, is veterinary care at 549 thousand results.

So let’s look at it from the direction we’ve been given. A search for ‘veterinary care’ not only produced 1.1million in results, but also offered a correction on spelling. Surprisingly, the search for ‘veterinary care, dogs’ did not narrow it down, but rather generalized the search to the tune of 3.4 million results.  Now as to the next question, location, just add your local zip code, ‘veterinary care, dogs, 94500′. Mine produced 753 hits, while an exact search using my city produced 52 thousand.  Though very interesting, the results still need more narrowing to be usable.

A search by breed produces 1.6 million results for ‘Australian Shepherd’.  When that search is limited to ‘Australian Shepherd, vet search, and zip code’ the results are much different, 142 choices. It’s now close enough to glance down the list and maybe look at one or two. You can narrow your search terms further by using advanced search. County, breed, and size might be other keywords. Date, breed, and country might pull up a dog’s history and breeding. The search words ‘aggressive dogs’ opens up new room for thought.

Pick your sources. Speed of the search doesn’t really matter, but the quality of the search does matter.  So a university website will perhaps be more hard-core factual than Mad Magazine, or a library more so than a game site. If you are looking for a nursery school, nursery school is the subject. Then you narrow the scope of the search to location, price, teaching techniques, and security measures. It’s all about the initial definition for the search and the ability to modify and adapt to your findings.

 

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