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Wired Wednesday: Internet search tools can help you save time and money

Beyond Google: Specialized Search Tools Save Time and Money

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Google Search has changed the world. While the Internet might be one of the most impactful advances in human history, it would be worthless if that information was not indexed and searchable. Google has become not just the leading search engine, but for many people, the only search engine. It has even made the jump to becoming a verb. You don’t just search it; you Google it. Yet despite becoming one of the most useful tools on the planet, it has a few drawbacks.

First, out of the millions of possible results for any given search, the only ones the vast majority of users will see are the top ten that Google presents on the first page. There is a lot that goes into determining what shows up on the page. Today’s Google is less a search giant and more an advertising company. Once money becomes a part of the equation, you can’t trust the purity of the results.

This handful of search results will cause a lot of people to pick the wrong service or product because they believe that the ones that showed up on the first page or two are the main choices, or even the only choices. That can have the net effect of driving your business to the wrong business, thus, costing you money.

Another drawback is the time commitment required to actually find the product or service that is right for you. It might be on page 31 of 10,000 pages of results. At a certain point, a needle in a haystack is easier to find than the one result you need. Don’t get me wrong; Google Search is great for some things. But when it comes to specialized products and services, a specialized search tool is what you need to save the day. Here are three examples:

Searching for Local Services

When you want to order a pizza, you do not want to wade through 10,000,000 options of pizza places that do not deliver to you. More to the point, you are certainly not interested in a bunch of random facts about pepperoni. What you want is a list of only pizza places, and only those that deliver to your zipped. More information than that will cost you time, and possibly dinner.

This applies to matters of more consequence. Searches for local services can be frustrating. Queries about counselors, doctors, attorneys, and the like, can be rather unproductive when you need to sort through your local options and find the best one for you. Services like Yelp and Foursquare do a good job at surfacing local businesses, but may not be specialized enough. The better way to find a doctor is to use a local search tool for doctors in your area.

The same is true for storage facilities. You can search Google for the four million results that do not even include all of the options in your neighborhood, let alone in your city. Or, you could use a local storage search tool that helps you narrow it down to the facilities in your area that have the exact amenities you are looking for. By using the right tool, you can save time and money, as well as your heirlooms and memories.

The Search for Knowledge

It seems a shame that the most comprehensive collection of information in the world is so often used to find the latest gossip about Britney Spears. When you really want to know something specific, the last thing you want is several million possibilities. 

For statistical data, you want to skip Google and go straight to wolframalpha.com. Google may be search, but Wolfram Alpha is the answer. Use it the next time you need population data. It even does complex math. Not only will it give you the answer, but show you the process. 

Search Tools for Kids

Not all specialized search tools are designed to save money. They exist to save something rather more valuable: the innocence and emotional wellbeing of your children. If you do not have the proper settings selected, your kids can stumble into some pretty dark corners of the Web without even trying.

If you do not want to have to log into Google and figure out all the settings while Google tracks your every keystroke and mouse click, you will want to look into a specialized search tool for kids

When you are looking for generalized web pages, nothing beats Google Search. But when your search means business, or something even more important, use a specialized search tool.

 

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