Tip Tuesdays: Effective Searching

Did you know that over the last two years 90% of the world’s data was generated? This year alone 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created every year. That’s more information than we will ever be able to consume in our lifetimes! How on earth do we weed through the data and find what’s relevant?

Systems! Effective filtering and retrieving systems, that is. In this information-abundant world, this can make all the difference, when you are trying to find exactly what you are looking for. It can save you time and ultimately make you that much more productive! I cannot think of one person that enjoys not finding what they are looking for. Especially, if it saves you the hassle of combing through heaps and heaps of data.

Take a librarian, for example, that knows the ins and outs of the library’s filing system. The librarian would be extremely efficient at searching for a specific piece of data, in said library. Well, just like that librarian, we need to become efficient when searching for information in order to optimize our time and waste less of it. After all, our time is precious so why waste it searching when you can spend it better elsewhere.

Why bother with effective searching?

You might be wondering: why is she blabbing on about effective searching? Truth be told, this topic is quite broad and I could apply this librarian anecdote to many aspects of our lives. But, today I want to address a very particular form of effective searching. It applies to something that many of us probably do at least once a day. The truth is people waste on average 2 hours of their workday searching online! Now, I don’t know about you but that’s quite a large portion. Ultimately, the work still needs to get done so do we then have to work even harder to make up for those lost hours until the work is done?

I think not! I would rather learn to search more effectively than waste precious time fumbling around.

I think as more people use the phones to access the Internet, they have a lot less patience for trying to find things on the search engines. That is because you need to figure a lot of things out for search to work.

-Adam D’Angelo

Effective Searching Tips

  1. Switch it up: Look into some alternative search engines. Each one has its pros so use them to your advantage. While we are all familiar with Google we might not all be aware that there are numerous search engines out there. More importantly they aren’t all competing in the same space as Google. Some are niche search engines which can really come in handy to narrow your search from the get go.
  2. Be specific: Be concise with your keywords. Only use what you need to avoid polluting your search results. Less is more and quality over quantity (Avoid adding suffixes such as -ing/-ation and using stop words when they are not essential to your search).
  3. “Quotations marks are your friend”: Use them to specify your searches based on key words or phrases of your choosing.
  4. Clear the fog: Use the minus sign ‘-‘ to remove terms that produce misleading search results.
  5. Don’t lose focus: Not all that glitters is gold and not every ad is an invitation for you to click. Even though search engines are great tools, don’t forget that they host a plethora of businesses eager for your attention and hoping to sell you just about anything.

If you found the first couple of tips helpful here are some more, search engine specific this time:

Relevance over Convenience

Don’t let the search engine do all the thinking for you. Most importantly, remember that the search engine is a tool for you to use. It shouldn’t do all the thinking for you. Try not to be misled by false top search results and highly ranked sites which are not even related to your initial search. Stay on track and remember that only you know what you are looking for.

Quality over quantity

Even the most intelligent search engines cannot make much of poor user input. And with search engines everyone is a winner. In this age where attaining information is as easy as the click of a button, critical thinking is your most valuable asset. This will help you weed through all the search results in order to get through the quality info you are looking for.the


Invest some time now into learning how to search effectively and perpetually reap the benefits. There will be no looking back once you understand how to search efficiently. Master the tips for your search engine(s) of choice and remember that the results are only as good as the input you provide. The key is to stay on top of your search results and to apply critical thinking! Share these tips with anyone who you think could benefit from searching more efficiently and wasting less time.


“Everyone knows what search engines are. But relatively few know how to use them effectively.”

-Marc Ostrofsky


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