Microdoc News recently commissioned a one-week study of 545 university students who were, relatively speaking, experts in information retrieval (they all had received some kind of training in information seeking and said they used Google more than 3 hours/week).
The results? The survey showed that the most successful (and prolific) users of Google take an “experimental” approach to searching, first trying simple one-word or multi-word queries, then trying other, more complicated queries until they find what they’re looking for. This group also tends to use Google as a navigational tool: Even if they know a domain name, they prefer to type it into the Google search field rather than the address box on their browser. That’s not as silly as it sounds: This can be an effective way to correct misremembered URLs.