A New Direction for Search

As online content proliferates, searching for something becomes harder, yet easier at the same time. The hard part is figuring out what exactly you’re looking for and the best place to look for it. The easy part is typing in the words to find it. For example, I’ve been reading articles about how popular Tik Tok is becoming as a top site for searching. People search it for everything from restaurant reviews to fashion tips and recipes. I even read some people use it for more professional searches such as how to write a cover letter or a resume.

It seems that more people are going to a specific site to search rather than using a broader search engine, such as Google. For example, if I wanted to find a tutorial video on how to do something, I would probably go straight to YouTube rather than searching on Google or DuckDuckGo. Although search engines typically separate results by content type such as news, images, videos, etc. sometimes it’s easier to go straight to the source. Or the perceived source. The danger is the results could be restrictively narrow, biased, or poor quality. Mainstream search engines, however, may not be much better. Secret algorithms rank results, but at least it’s providing options from different resources.

In the early days of internet searching, to be good at it required knowing a whole bunch of commands. Using “” meant a keeping words together as a phrase in the search results. Using the “+” meant combining words together. What I’ve noticed in the past decade is that most search engines will combine search terms with an “and” by default. This limits search results, though the searcher may not realize that about this default feature. All of the terms must appear in the result for it to appear. Whereas using the word “or” in a search broadens the results. Using “or” means the results can contain any of the search terms, but not all of them.

Now, search is great at interpreting natural language. Some search engines will even correct spellings, or assumed mistakes and offer results based on the correction. For example, searching for “aple” will pull up results for “apple.” From that point, the results are a little less successful because without more details it’s impossible to know if the term meant the fruit, the technology company, or something else.

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