Class 5.02: How to Use a Search Engine

Before doing a search, think about what information you are trying to find. Are you looking for the weather report? A specific article? A book? Directions to a place?

Let’s start with the question:

Another person would understand that sort of question perfectly, but computers and search engines work a bit differently. Search engines look for keywords.

A Keyword is a word or phrase related to the information we’re looking for. It’s the important parts of our question, the ones that are vital to finding the right information.

Let’s look at our question again. What parts are most important? Is there anything we should add to our search?

Let’s use the following keywords:

Capitalization and word order don’t matter in a search. Click on the search image to search these terms on Google. Are the results what we were looking for?

Some tips for using a search engine:

  • Remove question words (what, where, how, etc.) and filler words.
  • Articles (a, an, the) and pronouns (I, you, we, etc.) are not needed
  • Use modifiers and adjectives when they help to define the object more precisely.
    • For example “cat,” includes information on all breeds of cat. “Siamese cat” refines the search to information on just that one breed.
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