I admit that sometimes I cringe a little bit when I watch [some] other people search.
Not all people, mind you. Not professional (and natural-born) researchers. I actually love seeing how they search differently than me – the terms they use and how they use search engines and deep-web sources. I always learn something. It’s fun to share techniques and watch them get from point A to point B efficiently.
No, it’s the amateurs that get me. The meanderers on the path. The ones where…well, you just can’t help yourself. You’ve just watched them type in a 15 word sentence in natural language (something like “what is the quickest way to get from the airport to downtown Beaumont-sur-Mer?”) – so you steal the mouse from them and say, “Look at this! You can get the answer to your question in a quarter of the time if you just …type…it…in…like…this! <Enter> See? Cool, hunh?”
…aaannnd then they give you a look and go back to doing it the same old way they have been all along. Because, really, they just don’t need to get there in a quarter of the time. They like the slow lane. Reddit is their best friend. They’ve gotten lost for hours in YouTube. (okay, I’ve gotten lost for hours in YouTube, but I was watching TED Talks. Mostly.)
But for those of us short on time who need to do a bit of serious searching (whether for quick look-ups or as a career), beginning next week I’m going to do a series here on the blog about the latest search techniques. We’ll start with some tips and tricks, move on to Boolean searching (sounds scary…but isn’t), and then take a tour through some non-traditional places to get information.
Fun, right? Whether you’re a research newbie or a seasoned professional, you’ll find some great pointers and reminders for how to get the information you’re looking for…faster.
Tip #1 to start things off…
Did you know that when you type in a search query in a search engine you’re not actually searching the live web? Search engines are just immense databases of previously found-and-saved pages. That’s why sometimes when you do a search and click on the link to go to the live page, you may not find the search term you entered. What happened is that the web page was updated since the search engine cataloged it.
There is a remedy, though. Go back to the original search and find the hotlink you clicked on. Often there will be a little toggle arrow next to it that will allow you to go to the ‘cached’ version. There you should find your search word or phrase.
See you next week! (In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite searching tips here!)