Two Steps to Better Search Results

As I mentioned in a previous article, people are often confused as to what is and is not “searching”. But even when they know they’re searching, they often give up in frustration when they don’t find what they want.

Searching effectively is the key to unlocking the vast amount of information available to us on the internet. Unfortunately, searching well is a bit of mystical art.

While advanced stuff you can do with most search engines (like Google or Bing or others) is pretty impressive, you don’t need to be a “search engine jockey” to get better search results.

I want to share the two mistakes I see people making most often. I’ll also share a two-step approach to getting better search results that I’m convinced will get you what you’re looking for well over 80% of the time (assuming what you’re looking for exists, of course ūüôā ).

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Where Do You Get Your Answers?

Where do you get your answers?

Unlike search engines such as Google or Bing, Ask Leo! is a real person: me, Leo Notenboom. That means when I get a question (and I get lots of questions), there are various steps I take to come up with the answers I post here.

Did I mention I get lots of questions? Unfortunately, that means I¬†can’t answer every single one. However, I can outline some of the resources I¬†use when I need them.

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How Do I Search a Site That Has No Search Box?

Leo, the search box on your site disappeared. How do I search?

The search box in the upper right of each page depends on two things: Google being accessible from your location, and Javascript being enabled. If either of those conditions aren’t met, there’s no search box. (Firefox’s NoScript extension is the most common cause for the latter – just make sure gets an exception, and all should be well.)

But that got me to thinking …

As long as you can reach Google, you can still search my site. In fact, you can search any site that is searchable.

It’s a handy trick to know.

Read moreHow Do I Search a Site That Has No Search Box?

How do I find out when a web page was written?

How do I find out what date a website or any thing on Google is written. Many times I look at Google to find websites but can never find out when a particular website is written.

In an absolute sense: you don’t. Surprising as it might seem, that kind of¬†information actually doesn’t exist. There’s no place, no standard, no way to¬†absolutely, positively say that this web page was written on this or that¬†date.

The date that much of the information on the internet was written often doesn’t¬†factor in to its value. But there are also times when knowing whether a page is a month, a year or a decade old can have a dramatic impact on its relevance.

While not absolute, and not 100% reliable, there are often clues we can use to determine just how old a page might be.

Let’s look at what some of those are.

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Searching precisely

In a previous article I discussed my two-step approach to search: start broad, and then narrow your results.

In this article I’m going to talk about a different approach, and remind you of an important search operator, to help you find sometimes the most precise and yet most obscure stuff on the internet.

And it all starts with my wife and me watching TV.

Read moreSearching precisely

The Most Searched-for Term on the Internet

What’s the most searched-for term or word on the internet?

I want you to think about that, because it’s not what you think, and it shows that many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how search engines, and the internet itself, work.

I want to make search work better for you, and that means finding what you’re looking for.

But before we get to that we need to understand what is, and is not a search engine. Based on what people are actually searching for, there’s a lot of confusion.

Read moreThe Most Searched-for Term on the Internet