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     Dr. Strangesearch: How I Learned To Stop Worrying


"Perhaps what you're looking for just doesn't exist yet." As Sherry said that, she swungher chair around, smiling benignly.  "Ha!" I snorted, "This darn search ENGINE is no good...just no darn good, I tell ya!" Sherry chuckled, "Rubbish! You just have to know how to go about searching properly." Well, OK…she has a point. But I'd been searching for a fly-fishing resort...and the darned search engines just kept spitting out so much junk!
THE INTERNET'S ROAD MAP

Sherry interrupted my thoughts, "Well, what are you looking for, anyway?" I said, "Just testing search terms, is all." By this time, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed had rolled her chair over to my desk, "Exactly which search TERMS have you been using, dear?" elbowing me out of the way. I got the point and went for coffee! 
ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS

Suddenly, she gave a cackle, "What's this -- you call this a search term?" I came over and looked at the quivering mouse-pointer: 'Where can I fly-fish' was in the search box. Seemed a reasonable question at the time. Sherry raised one eyebrow, "Well, you got a big fat zero from that, right? And what about this?" Sherry brought up an earlier search I'd made, 'What is the best area for fly-fishing' sat there, accusingly in the search box. And, with the same result.  Sherry brings up another failed attempt: 'best fly-fishing areas' which actually brought back results, of sorts, but mostly UNRELATED, and very little about fly-fishing!
A SHIFT IN YOUR PROCESS

Sherry looked at me witheringly, and asked, “How on earth do you expect to find anything if you keep on treating a search engine like an adult...?” She picked up an article on search engines from my desk. “Here, listen to this: 'the search engines can only present a RESULT for a keyword search based on what's available to them from their own DATABASE...' -- now that's a quote from Bob Massa, in his Portal Partner Press, few weeks back, let's see...January 29th." Now, Bob's the best when it comes to search engines, so I had to sit up and take notice.  "Okay, soooo??" 
LEARNING HOW TO TALK TO A MACHINE

Sherry punched 'fly-fishing' into the search box while I watched, "There, you've got many results for that -- a ton TOO MANY in fact." At 163,000 pages, I had to agree. I ain't gonna look past the third page anyway -- takes too much time. "So...that's no good, huh!" I said, keeping a straight face.  Sherry sniffed her displeasure and entered: "best fly-fishing". Hmmmm, 1151 pages came back, much better I thought. “We can do better than that -- we just need the right KEYWORDS,” Sherry exclaimed. Next, she punched in 'best fly-fishing rivers', her face like a Cheshire cat as 25 results appeared on the screen.  "So, there you are, dear, just tell the “child” what you want, and you'll get it -- if it exists in the data base." She looked at me intently, "Doesn't that make sense, hmmm?"
SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF

I had to agree with her assessment. Any resort worth its salt, so to speak, should have the same words Sherry entered in the advertising copy on its site, in the META keywords, the TITLE etc. -- all specifically designed to attract people like me and my interest in fly-fishing. Anything else is just not worth bothering about...
HONING IN

"So, my queries in search engines are really STATEMENTS, right?" Sherry pats my hand, "Now you've got it -- just remember to make sure that your search statement is an accurate REFLECTION of what you really want to find?"
IT'S ALL WHAT YOU PUT IN

"So, getting a good result has a lot to do with GIGO, huh...garbage-in, garbage-out?” Sherry smiles and rolls her chair back to her desk. The click of her mouse and keyboard are once again music to my ears as I surreptitiously scroll through the 25 fly-fishing results...the trout iceman cometh! Hey, this search engine ain't so bad after all...yippee, here's a spot!

 

Roger Burke has been involved with computers since 1967, and has managed to break quite a few, over the years. He, and his wife Sherry, are now actively engaged in online self-publishing. Visit his website at online-wealth.com. You may contact him at .


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