Free Web Search Techniques

There are lot of ways to search the free web….Google, Yahoo, Bing, USA.gov, Google Scholar, each providing you with a different kind of search giving you different kinds of results. Sometimes those results include advertisements, sponsored content, government documents, random sites, images, and more. What you are searching and how is often vague or not readily available.

Can you tell what search engine gave me which results?

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Sometimes when you search, you get so many results, it can be difficult to sort through, and you end up confusing rank (the order in which they appear) with reliability. Try a Google search for Martin Luther King, Jr. (warning: offensive content) for a stark example that the higher the result, does not equal the more credible the source.

A lot of things go into the order of results, including $money$, so when you choose the free web, be extra careful of CRAAP and use some of these Google tricks to filter your results:

  • site:.gov GMO
    if you only want to view sites that are commercial (.com), organizational (.org), educational (.edu) or governmental (.gov) use this strategy. In the above example I would only receive results about GMOs from government sites
  • “medical marijuana”
    when you search for a phrase put it inside “quotation marks.” In the above example, instead of searching for any sites that contain medical somewhere and marijuana somewhere, I will only find sites that include those words when they’re together, producing more relevant results
  • related:www.cocc.edu
    when you want to find other sites similar to the one you entered. In the above example, I would find sites similar to COCC’s website
  • link Google Scholar to the Barber Library
    Have you ever found The. Perfect. Article. but then it asked you to whip out your credit card and pay for it? You shouldn’t have to! If you link the Barber Library to Google Scholar, you can check the library collection for the free text instead of paying Google!
    Just go to Settings from the Google Scholar homepagescholar
    Click on “Library links” from the left menu
    links
    Type in “COCC” in the search bar, click “Full Text@COCC” and save!
    COCC

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