Strategic SearchingA lesson from Common Sense MediaA search engine is a web tool that helps users find information on the internet. Popular search engines here in the U.S. include Bing, Google, and Yahoo. Users enter key words in a search engine to scan the internet for websites that match those key terms.Students search (or surf) for information online almost everyday. Knowing how to use a search engine is an important skill that involves lots of practice. Students must think critically about their online searches so they are effective and produce relevant results.An effective online search is one that pulls up the precise results you are looking for. An efficient search does this without wasting a lot of time and energy - for example, having to scroll through a lot of search results that don't relate to the desired topic. An efficient search captures the information you are looking for, and avoids catching the junk you don't want.Setting up a search strategy...It's a good idea to keep some simple thoughts in mind as you experiment and learn better search techniques. These questions will help guide you on your path to better searching.
By continuously asking yourself these questions, you will find yourself mastering more advanced searching strategies, getting better results, and saving valuable time.The S.E.A.R.C.H planStrategic searching involves having a plan. A strategic search plan can help you quickly find the exact results you are looking for in your online search faster and with less frustration. The acronym used to help remember the steps comes from the word itself.S - select SIMPLE research terms or questions.Begin with search tools familiar to you. A familiar search engine that is dependable and has worked for you in the past. You should have one or more questions that get to the core of what you want to find on the internet. Keep the terms simple and direct.E - EXTRACT keywords and terms from your questions.If the simple search doesn't produce the results you need, find and highlight effective key terms in the question you have in mind.A - APPLY a search strategy.Use one or more of the following search strategies listed below to find better results faster. (For example add "" marks or use +/-)R - RUN your search.Try running a search and make notes on the terms used and the results found. Check multiple sources and see if you are on track. Switch to a different search engine and see if it makes any difference.C - CHART your results.Jot down the terms you've searched for and where you searched. Make notes on the information you find and include web addresses of where you found the information.H - HONE your search skills with practice.See if you can use any additional search tips and tricks to find even better results.Strategic Searching Tips & TricksUse the following search strategies to conduct an effective and efficient online search.1) Use multiple, specific, descriptive keywords for narrower results.Example: Searching for concerts will lead to a variety of musical events, ticket purchasing opportunities, and concert dates. Searching for teen pop music shows central new jersey will lead to narrower, location based results.2) If at first you don't succeed, try a synonym.Example: If you tried searching for rare cats but haven't found what you are looking for, try searching for exotic cats, rare felines, or exotic felines.3) Place "" quotation marks around specific words or specific phrases you're looking for.Example: If you want information or a picture of the president's residence, search for "white house" rather than white house.4) Add a minus - sign before a word to show that you don't want that one term included in your results.Example: If you are searching for the Fry stage of the Rainbow Trout life cycle but you want the growth stage and not cooking, you would enter: Fry Stage -cooking.5) Look for two words at once by placing OR between them.Example: If you want information on Rutgers but you're not sure whether it's a college or a university, search for Rutgers College OR University. (OR has to be capitalized)6) Search for and pay attention to URL DOMAIN types.A domain extension is designed to signify the type of website you are dealing with. Different extensions indicate different types of sites..com = company or commercial.gov = government website.edu = educational institution.org = non-profit organizationExample: If you are searching for parks and you include .gov as a keyword, you should receive government websites in your results. If you are searching for parks and you include .com as a keyword, you should receive theme parks and companies related to parks.7) Specify the format or type of information you're looking for.Example: Many search engines will allow you to search exclusively for images, videos, news, blogs, etc. Different types of information will help you in different ways. If you search for military service +, the following information will come up in results.+ blogs = people's opinions about military service.+ video = videos related to military service created by individuals, news outlets, organizations, or the government.+ news = the latest news articles and stories related to military service.8) Use advanced search options on a search engine.Example: You can often specify + dates, exact words you're looking for, or even languages you want in your results from Yahoo, Google, or Bing.9) Once you have your search results, use them.Example: Searches enable you to access the huge store of information on the web, so take some time to see what's out there. Don't just look at the first results, and don't rely only on familiar sources like Wikipedia or About.com.10) Something really cool!Taking your search one step further; cultural perspective.In today's world, news and information can be published anywhere, at anytime. A story can be published and report the events differently based on the writer's perspective. Some issues have a global impact and not all countries share the same view of what is happening.Want to do a search based on another countries perspective? You can search a topic based on a country specific search engine code. The results might be different depending on the event or issue.The following link provides a guide for conducting a search using specific country's version of the same search engine. You may be able to gain a different perspective of the same event by changing the domain extension on the google search engine.Example:Take an event like the Olympics. If you were to visit www.google.com and type 2012 Summer Olympics during the games, you would probably get stories of American athletes winning medals at the games. There would be lots of articles on athletes from around the United States and the stories about where they grew up, how they trained, and what motivates them to compete.Readers in Botswana will not have an interest in reading about a track and field athlete from the mid-west section of the United States. They want to read about their local athletes and national heroes. The search results need to be different and based on popular stories related to that geographic region of the world.By visiting www.google.bw and typing 2012 Summer Olympics, you may find popular articles on local athletes from Botswana and the surrounding region. The search engine finds articles and links interesting to readers in that specific part of the world.Same event. Different search engine results.Match the letter extension to the country's search engine.
- What search strategies do I know?
- What do I want to know about strategic searching?
- What did I learn about strategic searching?
Search engine extension
Country or Region
.esTry visiting any of the search engines by region and see how they work. Notice any differences? Do they work?( source © 2012 Common Sense Media ) www.commonsense.org
Last Modified on February 19, 2015