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Internet Chemistry – More than Just the Sum of its Parts

August 13, 2006

Were you good at high school chemistry? Whether you were or not, you probably remember the Periodic Table of the Elements. You may also remember that sometimes if you combined two or more of those elements, you might explode yourself right into the principal’s office.

The same thing is true of Internet search. Its explosive power comes from combining two or more timesaving tips. It won’t send you to the principal’s office, but it might just explode your business to the next level.

Let’s look first at two very quiet and seemingly everyday types of tips for searching the Internet. The first is Google Preferences; the second is called “Find on this Page.”

Google allows you to set your own search preferences. “Preferences” is just to the right of the Google search box, right there on the main page. Go look for it – now!

What can you do with “Preferences?” You can “filter” your results to reduce objectionable material. Or, you can choose the “unfiltered” brand (hey, never let it be said that you don’t learn anything here). You can change Google to be Spanish Google or French Google (or even Elmer Fudd Google). This is great if you are trying to learn a new language (don’t try to learn Elmer Fudd, OK?!) You can even search for only those web pages written in a certain language – say, only those written in French, Danish or Romanian. And, pretty cool – you can tell Google to open all results pages in a new window – so you don’t have to wait on the “back button” each time you go back to your search page.

But, the “Preference” we like the most – and the one we are going to use for our chemistry experiment today – is the preference to show more than 10 results per page. You can choose up to 100, which is what we suggest. These days, with faster Internet connections, it’s fine to set your Google preference to 100 results. What are you waiting for? Yes, kids, you can do this at home. Now, please.

Why is it better to have 100 results? Because searching the Internet is usually a “hit and run” proposition and no one has the time to look through 300 results, 10 on a page at a time. Instead, we tend to search in “scan and scat” mode. It’s more efficient to “scan and scat” 100 results quickly, without having to keep clicking on the next page of 10 results. Taken alone, this tip will save you time and help you find information you might have missed in the past.

But we need another element from the Periodic Table of Internet Tips to achieve a truly explosive brew. Let’s use “Find on this Page.” Whenever looking at an Internet page, you don’t have to read through the entire text of that page to find what you are looking for. Just go to “Edit” on the “Menu Bar” (I’d like to go to a bar right now) and choose “Find (on This Page)…” (or, for you keyboard shortcut people, CTR + F). Then, type the word or name you are looking for – and your word will be magically “selected,” or highlighted in color. This comes in very handy on those long web pages of people’s names – or just on any page that is very text intensive. And, on its own, it’s another time saving tip. It makes the searching process much quicker, almost tolerable.

If you’ve never tried “Find on This Page…” – try it now. Go to www.refdesk.com (probably one of the greatest information starting points on the web) and use Find on This Page for the word “Chemical.” Then, watch how that term is “selected,” – highlighted in colored text. (Now, click on the link, “ChemicalElements.com.” Clever, huh?)

Now it’s time to combine these two tips – let Google return 100 results and Find on This Page – to allow you to harness the truly explosive power of Internet search.

With your preference set to 100 results, Find on This Page becomes almost a weapon. In a second you can quickly scan for any corollary or qualifying term in 100 results. If you’re willing to do a page or two more, you could be precisely scanning 300 results in seconds – far beyond what most Google searchers ever have the patience for, and far faster.

Let’s test it. Go to Google and then do a search for “periodic table” – just like that, putting the phrase in quotes. You’ll be looking at the first 100 results out of some 24 million. Now, we want to do a Find on This Page for the word, “kids” – (so, go ahead, do it). The first instance of the word “kids” is at least 30 results down the page, but you got to it instantly. By the way, it also happens to be a pretty neat chemistry site for kids.

You can also use Find on This Page for symbols like @, $, & – which can save you time when you are hunting through pages for an e-mail address or financial information.

Think of it. By just combining two relatively common Internet tips – to let Google return 100 results and Find on This Page – you can quickly get to information you never thought possible. And, this is just one example. There are scores of other ways you can combine search tips and skills to put Internet chemistry to work for you and your company.

Beyond that, consider the breakout power you can realize by providing Internet search skill training for your employees. Teaching Internet skills is like dropping a pebble in a pond. The ripples boost your employees’ creative thinking. By learning just a few time saving tips and Internet search resources people begin to think in new ways – and, before you know it, come up with ideas and solutions they would never have thought of before.

Think about it. When even one of your employees finds critical competitive information by applying their own ingenuity to the search, you’ll have something a lot more valuable than just time savings and more accurate results. You’ll have an explosion of creative power, motivation and job satisfaction. You’ll have liftoff.

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