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Web Smart Search Words

Find what you are looking for on the web by using the right words.

Hit Your Online Target With the Right Words

Sometimes it’s hard to find what you are looking for online. It can be difficult to find enough information or to find information that is as detailed or as specialized as you need. It may be out there but if you can't nail down the right descriptive words then you may miss your target. Here are some tips for breaking down the barriers and finding the right words for the job.

Where to Begin

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  • Wikipedia can be a helpful place to start. Look at articles that include your search words and see if those lead you to other descriptive words that you can try.
  • Find a website that specializes in the general subject area that you are researching and search their website. They might also have a glossary of terms that could help.
  • Search through the full-text online books on your topic that are available online through Google Books or HathiTrust Digital Library and see if any of these sources can give you some new ideas.

Naturally Speaking

Using natural language searches to find what you want on the web.

Search engines try very hard to match results with the way that we naturally speak. It’s called “natural language searching”. Use this to your advantage. Instead of asking a question, phrase your question as if someone is giving you the answer, as in the example below. This is a good technique when you are on a fact finding mission.

Google search example of a trivia question about the Beatles.

Nouns are Your Friends

Websmartboomer: stick-boy-and-girl

Gravitate toward nouns when you are loading up the search box. Nouns are the subjects in our sentences and are the best words to use to describe something to the search engine. If needed, add an adjective or two to be more specific.

Yahoo search example.