Internet search engines are the primary tools used to find information online. To be able to take full advantage of them, you must first understand how they work and know how to use them quickly and efficiently.



Search engines try to find the keywords in your query on the web pages they crawl. In other words, instead of asking the search engine a question, you ask it to find the web pages where your keywords appear. In order to be able to use a research engine or database effectively, you must be able to choose the best combination of keywords.

Most of the research engines are more effective when given more than one keyword. So you have to know exactly what you are looking for in order to determine the essential keywords that will give the best results.


Use of sentences or groups of words

The most powerful research method is the phrase search. Sentences are combinations of two or more words that the research engine should find in the exact order you entered them in the indexed documents. To use this method, you must enter your keywords in English quotation marks (example: “shea butter”). Some research services offer special options for phrases, others don’t support them at all, but almost all of them let you use quotes. Check your research engine help files!


Limiting your research

If you notice that you are getting results that have nothing to do with your research, you can use the minus sign to exclude results that contain a particular word. If, for example, you are looking for recipes with shea butter but which are not ointment recipes, you can type “shea butter” recipe-ointment (the negative sign must precede the word you want to exclude without spaces).


You also have the option of limiting your research by content type, date displayed and country. Most of the research engines have tabs from which you can choose whether you want websites, images, videos, news, etc.


Searching on a website

If you know of a particularly reliable site, you can, using most search engines, limit your searches to that one. You just have to type the website address at the end of your query.





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