05 More Search Techniques And Strategies


Everyday people search for information - the latest news, research data, random facts, etc. However, they continually struggle to find what they are looking for and search inefficiently, whether they are aware of it or not. The goal of last class was to introduce you to different techniques and strategies to help you use search tools more efficiently. Today's class builds on this theme with more advanced web search techniques and strategies.

Long-Term Research Projects and Difficult Queries

More difficult Web queries like ones you might have for long-term research projects require another level of effort and analysis. There are additional tools and tips to help you optimize your web searches and find what you are looking for.

  • Also remember that when doing in-depth research on a paper, project, etc., you should gather and save as much information as you can for your records and future use.
  • Use information from search results, page characteristics, as well as other content.
  • Find and record information like names, concepts, URLs, page titles, unique words, dates, places, facts, and whatever else stands out to you.
  • One way to record this information and include links is to create and use a wiki site. Don't have a wiki site? Get one here.
    • Students in BIT 330 are encouraged to use their personal wikidot page to do this, as it will save time and be quite beneficial when you are working on your term project.

Advanced Search Tools and Other Resources

Google Sets

  • Sometimes finding a set of related nouns and unique names can help you find what you need.
  • Google Sets is a great tool to use to help you do this.
  • The web page for Google Sets can be found here.
  • To use Google Sets, simply go to the Web page, type in nouns or things related to what you want to find in the text boxes. Then press the large set or small set icon to generate a list of related items.
  • For example, if I want to know the names of other cities in Michigan, I enter the ones I know like "Ann Arbor," "Detroit," "Lansing," and "Flint," into the text boxes, then press the small or large set icon and get back a list like this:
    • dearborn
    • holland
    • jackson
    • battle creek
    • bay city
    • east lansing
    • canton
    • kalamazoo
    • dearborn heights
    • howell
    • grand blanc
    • and others…

Tools for Comparisons

  • There are additional types of search queries you may want to use when looking for more information or if you are trying to make a comparison.
  • Examples of some useful queries to use are:
    • "types of X"
    • "there are * types of X"
    • "compared to X"
    • "X vs." OR "X versus"
  • The use of quotes ("") in your search query ensures that the search engines only returns web pages that contain this exact sequence of words.
  • The use of a star (*) in your search query provides a "filler" so search engines don't exclude relevant web pages just because the website didn't have the exact phrase you entered in quotes.
  • The use of the word OR in your search query makes it so the search engines return all web pages that contain either of the arguments you entered in quotes.

Resources to Use for Evaluation

You should always evaluate the potential validity and background of the Web page from which you get information. This ensures your sources are credible and all the data you gather is actually true. There are many areas you can use for evaluation:

  • Location of Web page
  • Speaker's or writer's identity
  • Speaker's or writer's motivation
  • General credibility of sources
  • Speaker's or writer's history
  • Speaker's or writer's reputation

These are additional resources you can use for evaluation:

Often times you read or see information on a web page or in everyday life and you wonder if its actually accurate or true. These are several helpful sites to use to check the accuracy of things you've read or heard:

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License