About once a week I am asked by someone to find some sort of information, product, or service.  I usually have a good success rate of returning exactly what they are looking for or better. Which, I suspect (not really) is why I keep getting asked to find things. I don’t mind helping out when and where I can but to help my clients, friends and family (and myself) move forward in life, a little education is necessary.

I’m almost always successful when I search for something on the Internet because of:

  • I use a quality search engine.  I almost always use Google.com to start my search. Out of all the search engines I have ever tried, I always come back to Google. It will consistently return quality results. Even their mission as a company is to organize the world for easy searching!
  • I ask the right questions.  The easiest thing to do is ask Google a descriptive question. I describe what I am looking for in my question. If I am trying to figure out what a Granola Bar is called, I would ask something like “What is an oat and chocolate snack?” First result, a page talking about Granola Bars.
  • If my first question doesn’t provide any answers, I rephrase the question, “what is a crunchy oat snack bar called?” First result, a page talking about Granola Bars.
  • Or you can say a descriptive statement. “Crunchy oat snack bar” First result, a page talking about Granola Bars.
  • Both ways have the main points of what I am looking for.  Also known as keywords. So for this question, “what is a crunchy oat snack bar called?” the keywords would be “crunchy”, “oat”, “snack”. First result, a page talking about Granola Bars. While either way will give you the same or pretty much the same results, posing your descriptive keywords as a question can help you visualize exactly what you are looking for, as if you are asking an actual person.
  • The last thing is I never look more than 2 pages deep on the search results. Really if the first 10 results don’t have an answer, I try asking my question or phrasing my statement a different way. Maybe being even more descriptive.

The next step is refining how you ask your question, figuring out your power words. Lets say I’m having an issue with a certain piece of software, such as Internet Explorer 9. It isn’t displaying my web site background properly. My power word is “Internet Explorer 9” because that is where the issue is happening. Having that power word will narrow down the results because it is? That’s right descriptive. Then it is followed by my question, well in this case a statement. “Internet Explorer 9 doesn’t display two backgrounds”. If that doesn’t provide any results, I rephrase till it does. But if I didn’t have that power word I would just be searching for “doesn’t display two backgrounds” (or maybe “browser doesn’t display two backgrounds”). With the power word I get back 2.2million results, without it, 52 million. The better my power word and the more descriptive/detailed my question/statement, the better the results will be. “Internet Explorer 9 doesn’t display two css backgrounds” will return 1.3 million. Just from one more word that describes the problem even more.

The chances of finding a solution to my problem are even better now, even though there are less results. The results are more accurate. So a little creativity and detail when it comes your questions or statements can go a long way when it comes to finding what you want on the Internet.  Trust me, you can find anything. Just describe it!