Improper use of search engines can generate false leads and waste a lot of time.
Finding the company. To begin your online research, you will need to be able to locate the company’s URL. This is usually straightforward. Just type the name of the company in the search engine box. If this doesn’t work, try enclosing the company name in quotes. Also, if the company is part of a larger corporation, you may need to search for the corporation before you can find the relevant page. If you are still having trouble, call the customer service department to get the proper web address.
Keywords. Understanding how internet keywords work can be invaluable to your internet searches. Basically, keywords are what allows you to find relevant information.
For example, if you want to find legal information about the computer industry, you would type “legal information computer industry” in the search box. Note that you should leave the quotes out unless you want the search page to include all the words in that particular order. This is an advanced feature that should be used only if your initial query didn’t pull up anything helpful.
If using obvious keywords such as the company name or phrases such as “Department stores in Massachusetts” didn’t work, then you can try using other phrases that may not be as obvious.
For example, if you only want to find discount department stores, you would refine your search to read “discount department stores in Massachusetts” or just “discount stores in Massachusetts”.
Advanced searching. As mentioned in the last section, there are some advanced features about search engines you should understand.
- Quotes – these are used if you want to search for something specific and you want all the keywords to appear in the exact order you searched under. If you don’t use quotes, the search engine may not find information exactly how you expect.
- Word order – Word order is also an important consideration when choosing keywords. The searches “Department stores in Massachusetts” and “Massachusetts Department Stores” may yield different results.
- Common Word Keywords – In general, the search engines will ignore words such as question words like ‘what’ and ‘how’ because they probably won’t change the search results. If you feel as if you need these particular words, you can enclose the whole phrase in quotes. For example, typing “How to find legal advice” enclosed in quotes may be more effective then typing simply “legal advice”.
Links. It is also important to pay attention to link-backs and other information when browsing through the internet. How many times does your competitor appear on other pages as a link? You can actually use your search engines to find this information out. Just type the URL in the search box. From there it will probably give you the option (try at the bottom of the screen) that will allow you to find all the sites that have your competition as a link. How can you use this information to your advantage?