GMA: Tiffany Shlain on Search Engines

By<a Href="http://abcnews.go.com/onair/goodmorningamerica/gma000926asktiffany_mailform.html"> <b>tiffany Shlain </b></a> via via logo

Oct. 4, 2000 -- I’ve received many e-mails from Good Morning America viewers seeking advice on how to search for information on the Web more effectively.

There are more than 40 million Web sites (and counting) right now, so while it may seem more difficult than ever to find specific information, there are search engines and technologies working hard to stay current. Think of search engines as tools — there’s a right one for every job, and the better you know how to use them, the better your results will be. I’ve listed a few tips to help guide you.

Know where to go: While AOL and many other portals offer Internet search features, they may not be the best ones available. Try other search engines such as Google.com. Not only is it the search engine that Yahoo! uses on its site, but it recently won both a Webby Award and a People’s Voice Award so both Internet experts and the Internet community have judged it the best. Also, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in one search engine try others. They’re usually listed at the bottom of any page of search results.

Choose your words carefully: Before you search, take a moment to think beyond the first few words that come to mind. Try and consider how a word might be misinterpreted. “Paris” isn’t just a city in France, it’s also a town in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. And don’t forget that many search engines also have their listings categorized by topic, so if words aren’t working try drilling down through the category listings.

Learn how to use punctuation and “advanced search” features: The use of quotation marks or minus signs, for example, will dramatically affect the quality of your searches. So will the use of the “advanced search” feature that allows you to do such things as search by phrases and decide how many results to list. In the end, both of these methods help you specify what you’re looking for and will reduce the number of irrelevant links produced. To learn more about these features and how to use them try visiting Google’s section about search basics. Keep in mind that the tips found there also apply to many other search engines.

Lastly, remember that searching is not an exact science. No search engine has every available Web page indexed, so look around and discover which ones work best for you.

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