1. Before: what do I want to find?

1.3. Search strategies

The huge amount of information available on the Internet pushes us towards defining a set of strategies to achieve the most precise, relevant results according to our needs in as little time as possible. Finding information on the Internet requires skills that involve being methodical, having critical thinking skills, having problem-solving abilities, being proficient readers… Some of these strategies are listed below:

  • Have a clearly defined search goal: what we want to search for, what we need it for, which format we would like the information to be in, how we will contrast the information, etc.
  • Choose the type of search engine that is most appropriate for each need: Google may be an excellent generic search engine, but when doing a bibliographic research, surely a more specialised search engine such as ISBN will provide better results.
  • Think of some keywords that describe, in a precise and, if possible, unique way, the object to be searched for.
  • Writing keywords in a majority language on the Internet will increase the amount of results obtained. If we are proficient in some of these languages (English, Spanish, French, etc.), we may broaden our searches and find more information.
  • Choosing or distinguishing between channels and formats (text, image, video, PDF, etc.) will bring us closer to what we really want to find.
  • Using logical operators between keywords will help us refine our search terms. Alternatively, using specific symbols, such as inverted commas or asterisks, will remove non-desired results, as explained in the “Logical operators” section.   

Websites hosted on Internet servers are recognized and indexed by search engines. The most popular search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, etc., but many others are available. In some cases, they may be much more powerful than the all-pervading Google.

Search engines are activated when we write the keywords in the browser search box. The key to an efficient search lies in choosing key terms appropriately, thus making the job for the search engine easier.