'S' is for searching

You know it's out there U you just can't find it! People often describe Web-searching as looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The number, and to some extent, the complexity of Internet search engines, is daunting.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD

You know it's out there U you just can't find it! People often describe Web-searching as looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The number, and to some extent, the complexity of Internet search engines, is daunting. Search engines are locations on the Internet that will hunt through the hundreds of millions of Web pages or search the billions of postings in newsgroups to find a desired topic. Finding information out in cyberspace may be difficult, but it isn't impossible. Searching the Web is more an art than a science. A main rule of thumb to remember is "the more specific your search, the better your results."

Once you have logged onto a search engine site, you will find an area where a subject should be entered. Type your search words in lower case. Type proper names with a single capital letter. Never type any word in all capital letters.

To be effective with search engines, try the following tips:

Play favorites: Choose three or four search sites and try to familiarize yourself with these sites and their individualized search rules. The more you use these rules, the better will be your results. Most sites will have special sections on them that will tell you how to get the best search results.

Specify what you want: When you are researching, be specific with your query. Enter "Olympus 4040 reviews" instead of "Olympus 4040." Start with a few terms, then add or replace them one at a time to get better results.

Quotes: Putting quotation marks around a search phrase will often work magic. This instructs the engine to treat multiple words as a single term.

Brush up on your Boolean: Use the words "and," "or," and "not" often, along with other Boolean tips.

Make a date: If you want to relate to a particular date in time, be sure to include the date or year in your quotation marks.

Search by category: Some sites have directories that allow you to search by categories.

Think before you click: Look at your search results for context, the URL, and date before wasting time visiting irrelevant sites. The sites that more closely match your search criteria usually will be listed at the top of the results list.

Know when to quit: Stop searching or refine your search after spending a lot of time trying to find one item.

So where do you start? My top 10 list of search sites is listed in the box.

After you start using search engines, you will learn that there is more knowledge and information out there than you can possibly need. The Internet is a convenient place for you to start your search for answers to any questions you may have. Your practice will benefit from this. You personal life will benefit from this. The only problem you will encounter will be finding enough time to gain the full use of all that knowledge! Good luck!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at jeff@dfdasmiles.com, by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.


Jeff's Top Ten List of Search Sites

  • www.google.com
  • www.yahoo.com
  • www.altavista.com
  • www.vivisimo.com
  • www.metacrawler.com
  • www.search.com
  • www.lycos.com
  • www.dogpile.com
  • www.mamma.com
  • www.alltheweb.com

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