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Billions of searches are performed using search engines each day. But hey that’s what search engines are for. It’s estimated that more than 17 billion searches are made each month. The chart below shows the number of searches performed in July 2012 ( U.S. only) by the five largest pure search engines.
How We Search
In order to begin a search you have to type something into the search engine box. You can type in as many words as you like, you can be general and type in one word or you can type in a multi-word phrase, containing as many words as you need.
Once you have typed in your search phrase, you simply hit the enter key or click the search button and you receive a series of results. In most cases a search engine will usually return your results, ten per page, with the 10 most relevant results on the first pages. The results are returned based upon what is referred to as algorithms, which are just conditions and factors that have been programmed into the search engine.
In the next section I will talk about the types of searches people perform and will provide two tips, showing how to perform better searches.
Broad Phrase Searches
Let’s say you are searching for information on sleep deprivation or lack of sleep, something many of us can relate to and you are curious as to how many hours of sleep should a person get, on average. You open up your browser and navigate to your favorite search engine, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.
You then type in the phrase: how much sleep do I need. This is known as a broad search, which is the most common search that is performed in search engines.
Example of Broad Phrase Search: how much sleep do I need
Believe it or not, this is the most inefficient search you can do. You might be wondering why… That’s because in this type of search the search engines is trying to find search engine result pages (A.K.A SERPs) that includes all of the words included in the search phrase you just typed in, but not necessarily in the same order.
The problem is that your search results will contain pages that are probably not relevant to what you are searching for, thus forcing you to have to spend more time searching for the information you really need.
Learning How to Search Better
Here are two tips that will help you perform better searches and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend searching for the the answer to your question or solution to your problem.
Search Engine Tip #1 Exact Phrase Search, a Better Way
This type of search involves searches in which all of the words from the search phrase are used, in the same order, but the phrase could possibly appear with additional words before or after. This is the type of result returned by a search engine when a searcher enters a search phrase in between quotation marks “phrase”, also known as quotes.
Example of Exact Phrase Search: “how much sleep do I need“
Search Engine Tip #2 Exact Match Search, Being More Specific
This type of search involves searches where the searcher entered the phrase exactly as it appears, entered the our phrase in between two square brackets [phrase]. In this type of search, there will be no other words before or after the phrase that you have typed in.
Example of Exact Match Search: [how much sleep do I need]
Note: This type of search tends to have odd behavior in all the search engines but, it is a search I like to use when I am trying to get an idea what I like to call real-world (traffic) search results. This is the type of search you use when using the Google AdWord Keyword Tool. It is a better indicator of what the traffic will be like for a given phrase (see below).
Using these two tips will make anyone’s search engine efforts a little simpler. Give them a try and let me know what you think.
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