Did you mean through?

There is no true universal mastery to perfect the skill of searching. Google, the model and leader of search engines, cannot be pigeonholed. There is no way of giving clear cut definitive directions on how to search, sift, browse, filter, and find. For any number of Google searches there can be a googol ways to phrase it. A hierarchy of proper efficient phrasing is practically unattainable. But there are always pointers.

The elementary or introductory pointers include when to use quotation marks (specific phrase needed verbatim), when and why to exclude prepositions and/or indefinite articles (on, an, in, etc.), and how to shorten search phrases while trying to be as specific as possible. These are all great pointers. But they only give a basic guideline. How should someone approach a broad topic? How about a very specific obscure topic?

I have no definitive answer. I think the only way to develop a thorough technique is to mature one’s personal instinct – what type of words for you should be avoided and what to click on amidst millions of results. The best way, I find, to hone your personal method is to embrace your survival instinct.

What is the difference between searching out of curiosity and searching out of necessity? The answer is drive, determination, and patience. When you need results you are determined to find them. In order to develop a method you need to gain loads of personal experience. No one can teach you a full proof method to searching Google’s massive brain. When I need to find an obscure tidbit of information I stare at the screen, constantly refining the words and structure of my search, utilizing multiple tabs in my browser, sifting through endless pages, opening results in new windows, and cluttering my screen until I find that needle in the haystack. When I want to find or know something I am more likely to give up trying within minutes.

I sharpened my googling technique one year ago. I was interning at the music-publishing agency SONGs. One task I was frequently given was to find pirated music of their artists. Some artists were well-known, even Top 40 pop artists, and others more obscure. What made this difficult was that my assignment was to find songs that were just released, hence newly pirated. This was the company can distort the illegal copies and slow down the unlawful sharing of their music or if really necessary file for an injunction. I remember searching for an hour and a half, using peer-to-peer software and torrent files, to find all the copies I could of a new song by Relient K. I ended up with multiple searches, spanning 50+ Google pages, and downloading many strange files (often viruses, good thing the computer had strong protection). But because of my determination my googling was a success. In that occasion I found three illegal copies of that song.

During that four month long internship I gain my googling instinct. I cannot see any better way to become a Google-Fu master than born out of a dire need for results.