How to search

How to search for the best information

How search engines provide the results

A Search Engine image

How to search. The local Northamptonshire Business Directory, like other business directories on the Internet, is a catalogue of businesses and websites sorted by categories. The Directory is organised by real people making contact with businesses. Ensuring the companies listed in the Directory create useful and relevant listings for all users. See the Q and A section for more search information.

On the other hand, Search Engines, use automated programs called Spiders, to look for information based on keywords entered by users. Common ones such as Google, which has 95% of the market, use many different methods to access their database to find exactly the right response to a request.

Searching the Northamptonshire Business Directory is easy. Simply browse the list of categories provided, and then drill down through the categories and businesses from there. Alternatively, users can type a query into the search function box and browse the results provided.

The results list websites by category and subcategory, based on the entire website rather than keywords or just one page of a site. Everything depends on the amount of information provided in the listing by the company. This is the Description section.

General Searching Techniques

Most people use Google, Yahoo or Bing. They enter keywords or phrases to try and find the information they seek. This works well but many results on the top pages are paid for or are sponsored results. However, research shows most users only view the top 40 results, paid or not.

Many companies employ webmasters and search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists to make sure their pages appear in the top two or three pages of results. There are many techniques to improve the accuracy and usefulness of a query while avoiding duplicate or paid results.

The search engines themselves use proprietary algorithms to determine the page rank of a website. Page rank is simply how high the page is listed in the results. Google tweaks their algorithms several times a month and changes its result layouts in tests to improve ad revenues and improved visitor experience.

This constant change makes it difficult for webmasters and SEO workers to keep websites up-to-date and in the proper format to perform well in the results.

search engine optimisation

Google uses items on the website including the page name, page title and headings in H1 through H6 format, amount of text, keywords, images, links, and frequency of updates to the page. The engine โ€œspidersโ€ or โ€œcrawlersโ€ that do the automated searches must incorporate these items into their search processes for every web page on the internet.

Users enter keywords or phrases, and the search engine retrieves pages corresponding to that enquiry. The pages may not always be relevant to the data entered. Search engines are not intuitive and as such, they cannot make inferences about what results from the user is seeking.

One key to getting the best results is learning to use speciality searches for a specific area of interest or region, and learning to become an expert. Most engines have advanced options and tools. These make searches much more relevant and specific to the information users truly want.

Start by entering the most specific criteria possible. Tell the search engine exactly what information is needed and try different ways to get the information. The Web is full of articles about basic searching terms, keyword information and search tips and tricks.

Speciality search engines including region or nation-specific engines are a boon to searchers seeking information specific to certain areas. Searching works well for the US and the world in general. However, if a searcher knows they are seeking a site based in the UK, for instance, the Northamptonshire Business Directory.

They are more likely to find the sites they want by searching for UK-specific results. Most engines have free translation services allowing web users to read documents or websites from around the world.

web searching

Another trick of experienced web searchers is the use of the so-called Invisible Web. The term โ€œInvisible Webโ€ refers to the vast amount of information that engines and web directories do not access directly, such as databases and institution-specific web directories.

This information is also known as the โ€œDeep Web.โ€ Many Internet users have created their own web directories and lists, which search engines do not access directly. Sites such as Deep Web Search, OCLC, and Library Spot specialise in accessing deep web databases, libraries and other resources.

Another important aspect of successful searching is learning how to expand or narrow the results effectively. For instance, change the wording to add different keywords. Try alternate spellings of words and ordering terms differently. Find synonyms for the terms.

Metasearch engines, such as retrieve results from many different engines at the same time. pulls results from major companies, including Google, Alta Vista, Yahoo and more.

Some Meta-search engines also track other internet users’ Web searches, what is trending on the Internet, and what other users are bookmarking or sharing on social networking sites. This can be very useful in helping searchers narrow or clarify their own searches.

Searching specific domains, such as .edu, .gov and .org can help limit results to those from the specified domain only. Use the command “site: .edu โ€œsearch termโ€ in the search box. This allows the user to search for the โ€œsearch termโ€ only on sites ending in .edu. Google cheat sheets list many handy tips and tricks, as well. Here are some of the more common and very handy search tips.

Use quotation marks around search terms when searching for a phrase. This tells the engine to show only pages that use those terms in the exact order typed by the user. Typing the same phrase without quotation marks will return sites that contain one or more of the terms, which could be a huge number of sites.

A URL syntax lets searchers look for words within the URL of a specific site. This is a good way to find sites that may not have been found by entering a search word or phrase. If the user wants to find only sites that contain the word โ€œFlowerโ€ in the site name, they would type in url:flower in the search box.

Similarly, it is easy to find terms and documents related to the original search term. Add a tilde (~) in front of a search term to tell the search engine to return related terms. Entering ~careers in the Google search box tells Google to return results with the word careers, as well as related terms like jobs, employment, professions and more.

Mathematical symbols are another common method to expand or contract search engine results. Placing the word AND between two search terms, ensures the results with both words are listed. The MINUS sign (-) tells a search engine to exclude words commonly attached to the search word.

Searchers can string excluded words together with a series of searchword1 searchword2 searchword3. The plus sign (+) before a search term ensures that the word will be returned in all the search results. These can be strung together in the same way as the (-) sign terms.


Boolean search terms operate on a similar concept as mathematical terms when creating limited and relevant search strings. The word AND operates much like the (+) sign by telling the search engine to return results that contain all the words separated by the word.

Separating terms with the word OR broadens the search by allowing the search engine to return results that contain any of the listed terms. Narrow searches by using NOT before an unwanted word, similar to how the (-) sign is used in the mathematical method of searching.

Why are some companies always at the top of search results?

Achieving the top position on the results page for a certain term or group of keywords takes knowledge, experience and time. If you would like to know how we prepare our pages for UK search engine optimisation there is a free SEO book which explains everything you need to know, then if you don’t have the time, call us, we are here to help with your business website.

There are also other techniques we use, but we have to keep some secrets.

Final Thoughts

All the search engines are clever and know a lot more about you than you might think. If you use Google and always search for the same type of brand or similar products, it filters the results and supplies what it knows will interest you.

If you always do a search for your company brand, over time you will see your website higher in the page rankings, but nobody else does. To get an unbiased view of where your site is really listed, try using StartPage, or DuckDuckGo they have your privacy in mind.

ยฉ Copyright Northamptonshire Business Directory 2014-2023