3 Ways to Find Anything Online

posted in: Digital Skills | 0

Friends and colleagues have given me a lot of praise for seemingly knowing about everything web-related. And while I can answer a good number of “How can I…”, “What are the…”, and “What’s the best…” questions off the top of my head, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about providing value to others is that it’s not about knowing everything, it’s about knowing how to find almost anything. Below are my top 3 resources for being able to find almost anything.

1) Delicious Bookmarks

The “biggest collection of bookmarks in the universe” is searchable & tag-browsable, making it an invaluable tool for taking the simplest phrasing of what you’re looking for and getting great results. One of the particularly nice tricks I’ve discovered is that when browsing tags, you can chain them to find items marked with multiple tags. (e.g. http://delicious.com/tag/marketing+tips+basics). Being able to view tags and users who’ve bookmarked items is great for turning on good result into several more by finding people/tags covering similar items.

2) Specialized Directories

Sometimes I just want a nice, long list. Directories are anytime I’m looking for something containing keywords that are ambiguous, or used in many different contexts. Anytime someone asks me for a web service that does X, if I don’t know offhand of one, I Go to Web 2.0. Other directories I use often are:

3) Specialized Search Engines

You can be okay at everything or you can be great at a few things. The jack of all trades rule applies to search engines as much as it does people, which is why Google has spent so much time creating specialized search engines (Blog Search, News, Scholar, Books, etc.). AltSearchEngines is a good source for every specialization under the sun, but the five I find myself using the most often are:

  • BoardReader – This forum search engine lets me choose if I’m searching for individual posts, whole threads/topics, or entire forums about a keyword.
  • Twitter Search – Anytime I want to find out about something happening now, Twitter search is the place to go. Links in people’s tweets help me find content faster than Google can index it.
  • SearchYC – Search engine for startup incubator YCombinator’s Hacker News community.
  • Yahoo! Site Explorer – Entering a URL in this tool allows me to find every site linking to it. SEOMoz’s LinkScape tool is similar, and includes anchor text information.
  • Google’s Keyword Tool – Allows me to enter keywords and find out how often they are searched for. Extremely useful not only for market research, but for finding out which phrasings of similar keyword sets are more common.

I hope these resources help you. Let me know your favorites!