It's not an overstatement to say that Google and the other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing, have changed the way we search for information. Many of us use Google search multiple times every day to find just about everything from the latest on national breaking news to show times for a movie at a local theater to find out what “LMAO” means. It’s fast, easy and just a little bit freaky how it “learns” what I’m interested in and returns relevant searches.
It’s made the old way of searching for contact information for product and service providers obsolete. Anyone use a phone book anymore? Me either. Now, every time they deliver a new phone book to my house, it goes straight to the recycle bin.
But when it comes to searching for truck parts, our old reliable and trusted go-to Google is downright terrible. If you have tried to find a part using Google (or any of the other search engines... I’m not just picking on Google, but the biggest do tend to take the most arrows), your experience might go something like this: You enter a truck part number and you get your list of results. One might be a reference to the part number in a repair manual,
or you may see it mentioned as part of a kit, or, if you are lucky, you’ll get a website that actually sells the part. But that company might be in China. (Not very convenient if your intention is to get your truck back on the road anytime soon...) Or, jumbled in among those results, you might have to dig through one for a zip code or another for a serial number for a toaster. I for one am glad searches are free or I would be broke by now.
A Google search is fantastic when it comes to text searches, but it’s not very smart when it comes to “structured” searches. Google looks for keywords and the context of those keywords. So, for instance, when you enter the word “toast” you will get links to more information than you ever wanted to know about toasted bread. But if you enter “I’m toast,” you will get very different results, including links to slang dictionaries describing being tired or in deep trouble, and links to some truly unique photos. If you enter “toast of the town” results will be different still, and include links to some wine clubs and even an Ed Sullivan reference or two. But if you enter a part number for a D2 governor, 275491, you will get all kinds of results about what a D2 governor is, a listing for a house for sale in Morningside, MI, and the fact (I bet you didn’t know this one), that 275491 is a prime number. All fascinating information. But you won’t be any closer to finding the part you need to get your truck repaired.
But you’ve probably already experienced this for yourself. So how do you improve your search experience on the web? Part numbers are usually searched as standalone in standard search engines, and don’t often have “context” associated with them. So the Googles of the world don’t “know” that you’re looking for a replacement part and where to buy it, and not just general information on that part.
So, to find a part you are looking for, your search needs to be done in a specific parts database of some sort, not the whole world wide web of information that Google searches. And there are several good places to start. One source is a supplier or manufacturer website. They are great for delivering information for parts that they sell or make, but won’t be much help with other parts.
But if you need a heavy duty truck part in a hurry, you will need to widen your search beyond that, but still stay within a structured parts data base. Also, keep in mind if you don’t know the whole part number, you will need to use a search engine that can handle partial part numbers, or perhaps just a description and/or a manufacturer name. And, you may want to know alternate part numbers for the same part, since different suppliers use different part numbers. That’ll give you more options when you go to locate suppliers and negotiate price.
So if you are looking online for heavy duty truck parts, don’t eliminate a Google search or searching the other search engines altogether, but make sure to find and use search sites that are part specific. Are there any that you use regularly or have great features you’ve come to rely on? I want to hear about them in the comment box below.