How to find information on the Internet

Updated: 05/02/2021 by Computer Hope
Finding information

Most information is found on the Internet by utilizing search engines. A search engine is a web service that uses web robots to query millions of pages on the Internet and creates an index of those web pages. Internet users can then use these services to find information on the Internet. Search engines are especially helpful when you don't know the URL of a website, but need to find it. When searching for information on the Internet, keep the tips below in mind to improve your searches.

Surround searches in quotes

If you are searching for a specific phrase, such as computer help, place quotes around the phrase to get results for that exact combination of words. For example, type "computer help" as your search criteria to match pages where those two words appear together.

This trick can also be used in parts of your search query. For example, Microsoft "computer help" would search for anything containing Microsoft and computer help together.

You can include multiple quoted phrases in your search. For example, searching for "Microsoft Windows" "computer help" would give results for pages that contain both of those exact phrases.

Be aware of stop words

Many search engines will strip out common words they refer to as stop words for each search that is performed. For example, instead of searching for why does my computer not boot, the search engine would search for computer and boot. To help prevent these stop words from being stripped out, surround the search with quotes.

Tip

If stop words are not important, don't enter them into your search.

Familiarize yourself with Booleans

Many search engines allow Boolean logic operators to help filter out bad results. Although common Booleans include "and", "or", and "not," most search engines have replaced these keywords with symbols. For example, to find computer help without results containing Linux, you would type computer help -linux. The "-linux" tells the search engine to exclude any results containing the word Linux.

Know what features are available

Many search engines allow for additional syntax to help limit your search strings. For example, Google enables users to search for links to a particular page by typing "link:" and other keywords at the beginning of the search query. For example, to see who is linked to Computer Hope, you'd type: link:https://www.computerhope.com in the search box.

  • See the Google tips section for further tips and features.

Try alternative search engines

Finally, if you continue not to find what you are looking for, try a different search engine. For a list of search engines, see our Internet search engine article.