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Advanced Web Search Tips

by Alexandra Andrews, Bob Gill, Larry Hengl and Michael McMillan
Power Searches
Focused Internet Searches

Power Searches
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So you have been on the internet for about 3 months and are starting to reach the limits of search engines.

What you really want to do now is find something really specific. You want to not just find information about camping. What you really want is to find out very spcific information, instead of general information. Like "campsites in the Sierras" versus "campsites".

Enter the realm of Power Searching.

With power searching you can specify exactly what you want, and more importantly. You can specify what you Don't want.

Power searches give you the ability to seek out and discover new civilizations -- instead of just stumbling upon them.

Enough babbling, how do I do power searching?

Usually the first search that you do is a general search to get a feeling on how many results will be returned. For all of our examples we will be using Alta Vista. There are other search engines out there which may be better or different. Alta Vista is a good example because it is consistant. There are several ideas that apply to most searches that are indespensable, plus several that are more search engine specific.

Every search engine has it's own features. has fuzzy search capability
You can choose to use the advanced search or on the front page there is a drop down menu under "all the words" Go to Boolean phrase
("small cell" and "lung cancer") and not ("non small cell")
This site has several searches listed at the bottom of the page
Try the power search
Has two types.

Be aware -- some of the search engines will not allow you to use parentheses or quotes in your query.

Focused Internet Searches
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You are looking for information on a particular topic. Many alluring sites will pop up and it is easy to lose focus. It is as though you have become lost in a jungle of web sites. Our suggestion is - bookmark the interesting sites as you search. Remember the phrase from Star Wars -- "Stay on target, Luke!"

CancerLynx bookmark graphic

After you have found the information you need, then investigate the bookmarked sites. The Bookmark QuickFile in Netscape is at the top of your screen next to the Location bar. Just click on the Add Bookmark and continue with your search. There is an Edit Bookmarks feature to delete unwanted bookmarks.

Remember! Every day new sites are coming on line. As we said in the How to Start Searching on the Net section, it is a good idea to do any search over a period of time.

For a world wide search - type in your words in the Google window.

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