Google is one of those things that seem very simple to use, but actually there is something of an art to it. You can spend years searching for something very specific only to find that if you'd phrased your search correctly it would have been the first result. Here we will look at how you can go about improving your ability to search, and how to use Google effectively to get the content you want.

How Google Search Engine Works

First of all it's important to recognize how Google works. Essentially Google has a huge database that it refers to and which it builds automatically with the help of spiders and robots. These spiders are PHP scripts (programs running on the Google server) which surf the web as we do by following links from one page to another. When they find a page, they will then attempt to categorize it by looking for words that are repeated often (or just a couple of times) and by looking at what terms are associated with the page on other sites (in the links for instance). The order is dictated by which site is the most relevant, as well as which seems to be the best quality based on external references etc, and you will then be given a list based on these factors.

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Using Google Search Effectively for Better Results

In short then Google looks for matches in your text as well as similar themes on the page. It doesn't (yet) understand what you are asking it and so you shouldn't phrase your query as a question. Searching 'How do I go about fixing my PC?' isn't going to be very useful.

The other reason this isn't going to be very useful is that the language is too chatty (meaning that it will occur on fewer sites a that's not the way everyone speaks) and because it's too general meaning the results won't necessarily help you with your specific computer problem.

What you need to do then is to think of the short snippets of code that are likely to appear on a relevant page and then search for that. So in other words if your monitor won't turn on you should type in 'monitor won't turn on' or 'monitor not turning on' which is likely to match a lot of discussions on forums as well as a lot of other pages.

Better yet for something like that is to search for any specific error codes if they come up, as these will be reprinted by people on forums etc who are asking for advice.

Understanding the SERPs

'SERPs' are the pages that come up when you do a search – 'Search Engine Results Pages'. These include your results as well as some other things. The top few listings for instance will be adverts and these will have a very feint yellowish background behind them – look out for this to identify the ads.

Meanwhile you will see a little listing underneath each result. This snippet of text comes right from the page and this is your best tool for deciding whether that page is providing the right information before you go ahead and click it. Be discerning here and you can save yourself a lot of time.