The goal of your web search should be to find the info you seek in one search. Yes, ONE. Is that possible? YES!
Step one: THINK
A) Figure out EXACTLY what you are looking for. Don’t be general [“I want to know about rivers nearby”], be as specific as you can [“I want to know the average depth of the rivers near Macon, Georgia.]
B) Phrase that in the form of a question, THEN underline the important words. The underlined words become your search terms
For example “I want to know the average depth of the rivers near Macon, Georgia” would become “average depth rivers near Macon Georgia” . THAT is what you type in.
Step two: SEARCH and LOOK AT THE RESULTS
A) Check the results. DO NOT just stick with the first page – often the results you seek are on page two or three of the results.
B) LOOK AT THE RESULT – do not just click on the first link. The results will have the web address listed – take a look at the first bit of the address. Is it actually a legit source you can trust? ALSO look at the text after the address – that will give clues on how useful the info ill be.
- www.federalpay.org will probably not be much help!
- The National Weather service indeed keeps up with river levels, so that might be a good link.
- go-georgia.com – looking at the description, that is going to give me a list of river tours companies. Also not much help.
- Wikipedia? Sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Sometime accurate, sometimes not. In this case it would probably be faster to look elsewhere.
- epd.georgia.gov – the “.gov” tells you it is an official site with the state of Georgia. The description tells us that the link is to a PDF file will all sorts of stream and river data for Georgia. That might be useful.
Step Three: I can’t find what I am looking for!
Here are some additional things to try:
- Make certain you have followed the tips above. DO NOT use complete sentences, unless you really like wasting time.
- Think of synonyms for your search terms. For example “stream” instead of “river”.
- Think of related terms – for example, I could look for “river statistics “instead of just “depth”, since the depth figures are likely to be included with all sorts of river stats.
- Guess what words might be on the page that would contain the info you seek. For example, a page with information on the depth of rivers near Macon might also have statistics, boating, watersports, middle Georgia [instead of JUST Macon], etc.
- Use a different search engine – Google does NOT cover the entire web.
Step Four: REALLY learn how to search.
That is going to be the next article in this series. Watch for it – or go ahead and add your email to the list [it’s the Subscribe or “Email me!” box on either side up top.]