How to Use a Search Engine

by Ed Oswald

The World Wide Web is a big place, filled with millions of websites on about as many topics. In order to find what you need, learning how to use a search engine is key. This tool will allow you to quickly find the information you need with very little effort.


Figure out what you want to search for. Search engines are not people, so think of the topic in the form of a phrase rather than a question. For example, if you want to answer the question "What is the best way to paint my house?" a good search engine phrase would be "house painting tips."


Narrow your search term, but keep it sufficiently broad. The phrase "house painting tips" will likely be too broad, and will likely return too many results. Narrow it down some, like this: "Victorian house painting tips." This will give you results more specialized to your needs. Beware of going too narrow, such as "19th century Victorian house painting tips." Those may return no results at all.


Select a search engine. Doing so may be a matter of personal preference, as essentially all search engines carry essentially the same index of sites. For novice searchers, it may be best to search on several different sites until you find which one best matches your search style and returns the best results.


Enter the search query into the provided text box. Keep the search term as brief as possible, and remove non-essential words. Do not use punctuation. Click the search button, typically to the right of the search box.


Peruse through the results. Keep in mind search engines typically place sponsored results at the beginning of searches, so actual responses to your query may fall further down the page. It is usually a good idea to look through the first several pages of results before clicking on a link to save time in visiting websites that may not provide the results you are looking for.


Click the link of the result you would like to view. If the result answer your question, then you do not need to proceed further. If it does not, hit the back button in your browser and try another result.


If after several results you are not finding the information you need, there are several options. Try another search engine is one solution, while you can also try a modified query. For example, instead of searching for "Victorian house painting tips," you could change up the query slightly to "how to paint Victorian houses" or the like. Sometimes this will result in a completely new set of sites that may have not appeared in your previous query.


  • close Beware of sponsored results. Advertisers pay for premium placement in certain keywords. While sometimes these may provide you with information close to what you may need, often they will not.

About the Author

Ed Oswald is a freelance writer whose work appears on several technology sites as well as on Demand Studios. He has been writing since 2004 and graduated with a degree in Journalism from Temple University.