Sometimes it is appropriate to use Google or other general internet search engines as a part of your research. There are many reliable sites with good information - the trick is to find them. This page will give you some suggestions on how you can best use a search engine to bring you the highest quality results.
Consider: What are you searching?
Search engines (Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.) only search part of the information on the internet - the "surface web".
- Not every site is indexed - excluded are password protected sites, sites that choose not to be indexed, sites without links, and the contents of databases -- including subscription-based library database content.
- Not every word is indexed - each database has common stop words that it does not index and some engines only search a certain number of words on a page.
- Not every page on a site is indexed - some engines limit their searches to the top two or three levels or exclude personal sites piggybacked onto another site.
Powerful Searching - using advanced search to optimize your results
Most Web search tools offer a simple search interface – the results are determined by an algorithm. If you want to exert more influence over the algorithm, it is necessary to take advantage of advanced search techniques. Other techniques will help you refine your search. Please note that different search tools will use different symbols for truncation, phrase, and proximity searching – if they offer them at all – always check search help pages to see what is available.
If at first you don't find what you need:
- Look beyond the first screen of search results.
- Try the advanced search features offered by most search tools, like Google Advanced Search.
- Find the help screens provided by the search engine producers for advanced search tips and operators to use for custom searches by file type, domain/site, language, and more -- Google Search Operators
- Try more than one search engine.
- Test your search skills by searching for more advanced tips! Not every search trick is clearly indexed and made available in a simple way by search engine providers.