Finding something you need on the internet without the help of a good search strategy can be like driving from Boston to Los Angeles without a road map. You know the general direction, but there are too many options.
With billions of web pages in cyberspace, you could waste a lot of time — or worse, money, should you get scammed — scouring for what you’re after and, in many cases, coming up empty.
If you need some help with your searches, consider the following tips and tricks for getting the most out of Google, the most popular search engine on the planet, with about 86 percent market share. Many of these search suggestions will work for other solutions, too, like Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and more, but they might require a little trial and error.
1. Be specific with what you want
If broadly worded searches, such as "car classifieds," yield too many results, try more specific words to find what you want: "used car classifieds," "Corvette classifieds," "Chicago used cars" or "used cars classifieds Chicago BMW." Choose your words carefully to narrow down your search and to save you time, regardless of the search engine you are using.
2. Use + and -
Use a minus (-) sign to exclude words you don’t want searched. Doing so filters out stuff you don’t need. For example, type "pets -cats" (without the quotation marks) if you’re looking to adopt an animal but have a feline allergy, or "best movies -horror" (without quote marks) to omit scary flicks from your search. Do not put a space between the minus sign and the word you want omitted.
You can also add a plus (+) sign to tell the search engine that specific words must be present in the search results and not to show you results that don't have it. For example, you can type "Christmas sweaters +trees" (without quote marks) if you want to see only Christmas sweaters with trees on them.
3. Put key phrases in quotes
Put phrases inside quotation marks to help the search engine find exactly what you’re looking for.
If you want to search a certain sequence of words together, use quotation marks on the outside of the phrase. An example is the 2021 movie Godzilla vs. Kong. Without quotations on each end of the title, a search engine would independently search for websites containing the words "Godzilla" and/or "Kong," in any order.