Search Engine Tutorial
March 27, 2000

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Reaching Great Minds Online
March 27, 2000 Issue #37
Mike Valentine, Editor,


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=> Sponsor Ad: BigSmart
=> Feature article: Seek and Ye Shall Search
=> Our Guest Column: How to Use Search Engines
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I'd like to reprint an article this week that we've run before
to emphasize the answer to questions I am asked daily. Not just
any one question, but almost any question. Few of us use the
search engines to their full effect and value. This is a shame
as they are a literal gold mine of information. This week's
guest article also discusses search engine use. I'd like to
add two of my favorite search engines to the list given by Greg
Spence, below. &
Try them both! Fast, fast, fast and relevant results too!

Search for the Keys Online!

by Mike Banks Valentine

My wife often waits until she is late for an appointment to
start looking for her car keys. They are never in her purse
or on the kitchen table by the back door where she drops
everything else she had in her hands when she came in from
the car the last time she drove it. For some reason the keys
always end up in the bathroom, under a towel on the sink-
top, or under the recliner in the living room, where she
collapsed after a long rough workday the evening before.

I often suggest we look for the keys after dinner, so that
she can avoid the frantic search the next morning. She'll
ask me to drop what I'm doing in the a.m., whether I'm brush-
ing my teeth or dressing, to help her look for them. This is
probably normal for a lot of people. But she panics before
actually searching for the keys and asks me if I know where
they are!

The thing that always irks me beyond belief is that after
rousting ME out of bed on my day off to help her look for them,
SHE finds them just as I stumble to the kitchen and start
to look near the coffee pot, (so that I can sneak a quick
morning "wake-cup".) This has some parallels with business on
the web and searching the internet for keys to your problems.

I'm often fascinated with the call from a frantic, harried
client asking me to quickly find them some information on
the latest software for their business online, or the writer
asking how to find translators on the web . . . or my friend
looking for the perfect graphics online for their Powerpoint
presentation tomorrow. The key is . . . just search for it!

I'm a big proponent of search engines and search engine
optimization of business web sites. I study the latest news
on ranking well in the various engines and directories. I
find it fascinating that some webmasters won't bother with
this important task when I'm doing a web search for say . . .
financial humor, as I was last night. That search yielded the
same top result repeatedly in several search engines because
the owner of ONE site made it important enough to insert a
few "key" words, description and title metatags in his HTML.

This week I had a client call to ask me to search for MFCC
license information (Marriage, Family and Child Counselor).
I told them, "Hang on, I'm online now, I'll take a look."
In about 30 seconds I was on a state government licensure
listing site, where we confirmed that a therapist was NOT
licensed in California. In less time than it took him to call
me, we had "keyed in" on an answer to his question.

Now what confuses me is . . . why didn't he just log on and
do that web search himself? We have abundant information at
our fingertips and fail to use the incredible tools at hand.
Search engines really do a great job of turning up the infor-
mation you want and people are reluctant to use them. Just
don't wake me up at 6am to help you look for
You've already got the keys and I haven't had my coffee yet!


Mike Banks Valentine operates several web businesses including a small business internet tutorial
teaching the basic techniques of growing your company online.
A free "Short Course" is available by autoresponder by sending
a request to He writes for
several online publications and can be contacted directly at:
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"How to research the subject of your next book or article"

by Greg Spence


If you have been online for any length of time you cannot
fail to have noticed the wealth of data that is available to
you on the Internet.

Websites, research companies, specialist search
engines, newsgroups, mailing lists, ezines, magazines,
newspapers are just some of the resources you can use
to help you come up with the next subject for your book,
article or ezine.

To newbies, the Internet is both a goldmine and a
bottomless pit of data that somehow needs to be turned
into information. It is very easy for someone new to the
Internet to become overwhelmed very rapidly and find
themselves getting lost.

For an author the Internet makes research easier, faster,
and more long as you know how to get to the
information you need.

This article gives you some pointers as to how you can
find and research your next topic without having to spend
days online.

Where do I start?

Before you can answer this question you need to know
what type of resources are available to help you in your

We shall take a look at search engines and briefly
mention other resources you can use.

Search Engines

This is where most people begin their journey. There are
hundreds of search engines one can use but my advice
to you would be to stick with the majors which are:








Northern Light

There are several disadvantages when using these
engines that you need to be aware of.

1. You need to visit each engine to make sure you find all
of the resources that cover your chosen subject area. Not
all websites are registered with all search engines. This
can take up a lot of time and depending on how narrow or
broad your search may be, you could find yourself wading
through millions of listings!

2. Not all of the websites returned will be relevant. When
website owners submit their sites to the search engines
they may use keywords that only partially reflect their site
content. You must manually filter out those that are not
relevant and you may only be able to do this by visiting
each site!

3. You will waste a great deal of time.

How to make your searching more effective

To make your surfing experience more productive I
suggest you start with this site .

This is a search engine which allows you to ask a
question in English and it will immediately tell you all the
possible resources that can answer that question for
you...including other search engines! In fact AltaVista
use the AskJeeves engine to perform some of their own

The other thing you can do, when using the engines listed
above, is to choose your keywords very carefully. Never
use single word searches because you will end up with
millions of websites. Instead use at least two or more
keywords together to narrow down your search.

For example, if you are writing a book about online golfing
sites and you want to find information about golf sites that
allow banner advertising, then you should enter

+"banner advertising" +golf

into the search box. The quote marks tell the search
engine to find sites that specified "banner advertising"
keywords in that order, the +golf tells the engine your only
interested in sites about golf. The "+" sign indicates that
you want these keywords to appear on the site in the
order you have entered them.

You may need to modify this search slightly for the
different engines, each search engine has help available to
you. Most of the top search engines will recognize this
type of query.

In part 2 we will look at using more specialist search
engines and provide details of other resources you can
use for your research.

Greg Spence
Author, "How to Search the Internet and Find the
Information You Need....Ten Times Faster"
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MORE MONEY THAN BRAINS Finance and Money Humor

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Financial Humor at Nobody's expense! Quotes Trivia Jokes


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Copyright 2000 Mike Valentine

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  June 9, 2001