The Internet, one of man’s greatest inventions, the great liberator of information, the equal opportunist offering everyone a stage for their voice. The biggest information rubbish tip ever perceived.
Millions of pages of information stored across the world, with thousands more pages added everyday. It’s far too easy to feel overwhelmed and disheartened when trying to find the stuff you’re looking for on the World Wide Web. Forever confronted with pages that don’t actually tell you anything or just link to other sites. The feeling of going round in circles becomes all too familiar! It’s at this point most people usually give up and go back to more traditional non-internet offline methods, and who can blame them? We’ll, me actually!
In these guides, you’re going to learn that the Internet IS the greatest invention ever! An information source so rich, you’ll learn things you never thought you could. A resource so valuable, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to get by without it. Best of all turning the Internet into this amazing tool is easy to learn. In straight forward plain English I’ll show you how. By the time you have read through these short guides, you’ll be able to go straight online and find the stuff you’re looking for. So let’s get going with Part One: “Where to Begin?”
Where to begin?Like all tasks, the first key question you ask yourself is where to begin, and this is also true when searching online. Many people instinctively head for a search engine such as “Google”. This indeed can be, and often is, a great place to start, but it can also be the worst. Why? Because search engines are going to give you far too many non specific results. From the word go, you’re going to be overwhelmed by too many choices, many of which don’t even relate that well to your subject. So what do we do? Where do we start?
Well before you even touch the keyboard, have a little think about what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a specific product or a range of them? Maybe you’re looking for advice and support for something that’s happening in your life. You could be looking for training or step by step how-to guides to build or fix something. It might even be that your’re researching for some course work. The point being there are many types of searches you can perform and what type of search you are carrying out decides the best place for you to start.
By defining what type of search your doing, you can work out which of three search styles will be the best place is to start your search. So what are these “Search Styles” I’m talking about?
Search StylesThere are three main areas on the Internet which provide the best results for getting information out of the Internet: Search Engines, Reference Sites and User Knowledge. br>So let’s have a rundown of each of these:
Search Engines: Everyone knows about these. “Google” has become so famous the term “to Google someone” is even in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are many other search engines out there though, Yahoo, Msn, Ask.com to name a few. Search Engines are the grand librarians of the internet and spend 24 hours a day trawling the internet collating every page they find. This is undoubtedly their greatest strength but unfortunately is also their biggest weakness. All will be explained a little later on in the guide.
Reference Sites: These are the great encyclopaedias online, such as Microsoft’s Encarta. They are very much just electronic versions of the printed material, but with the added bonus of powerful search options to extract out the information more quickly. There is another type of encyclopaedia though which truly harnesses the power of the internet and these are known as “wiki” sites. The “wiki” names comes from honouring the first of these sites http://www.wikipedia.org. What makes the “wiki” sites so special is that they are free; they are created and updated by users of the internet and can be edited by anyone who visits the site. If you are an expert in your field, you can submit information to be added into the encyclopaedia. This would of course be verified before publishing. The upshot of this is that you have sites with up-to-date information on every possible imaginable topic.
User Knowledge: There are two areas which fall into “User Knowledge”, the more widely known Forums, and News Groups (“Usenet”). Both offer a great source of information which is usually specific to what you’re looking for. Forums are websites where like-minded people are talking and sharing information which is the same interest as yours. There are key areas to find help, advice and even reviews about topics you’re searching for. News Groups is an area of the internet many users are unfamiliar with, as you used to have to use “News Reader” software to view them. Fortunately though, Google provide the ability to look at News Groups through your standard web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). News Groups work in a similar way to Forums, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of them covering every topic known to man.
Which Search Style to use?Ok so you now know the three main information sources to help you find what you’re looking for, but which one is best for each type of search? Obviously you can use any of the three search styles for any topic you’re looking for, but choosing the right one will improve your results and you finding what you’re looking for drastically. The best way to highlight this is to look at some scenarios:
Looking for a specific product or a range of them: Let’s say you’re looking for a new pair of running shoes and you know the brand and item name of shoes you’re looking for. Knowing this makes searching the internet a simple task.
You could either go straight to a shopping site which you know are likely to sell the shoes, or you could browse to a price comparison site, which will show you where to buy the shoes and for the best price. Alternatively you could enter the brand and item name into a Google search and it will actually list a series of price comparison sites for you to check. Searching for a specific product which you know about is the easiest search you can do. But let’s complicate things up a little.
You’re still looking for running shoes, but you’ve got no idea which ones to get, which ones are best and what the best prices would be. Where do you begin?
To make sure you get the best running shoes that suit your needs, you have to do a little bit of research. Find out which shoes are regarded best for each price range and how people have found using them. The best way to achieve this is to use the “User Knowledge” search style. This means visit the forums and news groups and read all the information you can gather from people who are already using running shoes.
Doing a simple search in Google for “running shoes forum” will return dozens of quality forums, where you can spend time reading through the thoughts, opinions and reviews of people who have experience in that field. You’ll also be likely to be recommended the best places to buy the shoes and for what price and provide you with direct links.
This is only one brief example of using the Search Styles to find what you’re looking for on the internet. In the following Parts to this guide, we will look at each of the Search Styles in more depth, and provide you with a few hidden gems about successfully searching on the internet. The days of you trawling through the internet with no real direction will be at an end. You will be able to amaze people at how easy you can find the right information that they’ve spent hours trying to find and eventually had to give up. You’ll be surprised at how simple this all really is, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when you locate any bit of information you require.
In Part two, we’re taking an in-depth look at search engines. We’ll show you their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll learn how to make the search engines work for you and not the scam sites. We’ll even show you a few hidden tricks; you would never believe they would do.