Traditional search methods don’t always work effectively. When you’re disappointed with the results you’re getting, Barbara G. Friedman, author of Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005), 60, suggests trying some of the alternative approaches in her checklist of Tips for Smart Searchers.
- Use your knowledge of domain names to narrow a search or to go straight to an organization’s site.
- Trace a site back to its source whenever possible.
- Use syntax searches to narrow a search and filter out unwanted sites.
- Use specialty searches for image and audio files.
- When searching for information in a foreign language, take advantage of native language search engines and directories.
- When your search is for a range of sites on a particular topic, a guided search such as the kind offered by About.com, will save time.
- Search by file type.
Meta searchers get better all the time, allowing you to search across many engines and directories. If you opt for a meta search, choose one that allows you to control what engines and directories it queries, and how to display results.
Use your browser’s bookmarking function to save sites you may want to return to later. If the content of the site is critical, save it onto a disk, or to your computer’s hard drive. Take advantage of archive projects like the Wayback Machine to find sites that have changed, moved, or been removed from the Web.
Know the Web’s limits and use the library when appropriate.