Searching Smarter with Google tricks

After spending the last two weeks talking about Google, I figure I’d dedicate another week or two and discuss some other features of Google.  As everyone knows, Google is a search engine that allows you to find information on the Internet.  Most people simply go to Google, type in a few terms, hit the Search button and start examining the millions of sites that Google provides.  Google is a really complex tool and with some simple searching tricks, it will give you more refined results and you won’t have to wade through a million different sites to find the one you want.  This week I’m going to feature five simple Google tips that can help you find information online easier.  Modeled with students, these tricks can help them be better consumers of the Internet.

1.  Phrase search.  This one is simple and really useful.  Use quotation marks in your search to find words linked together.  For instance, let’s say I was searching for sites on the phenomenologist Max van Manen. By using quotation marks around the name, I’d find sites specific to Max van Manen on not sites that happen to have the words Max, van, and Manen on it.  Without quotation marks, a site that had a sentence like “Max drove his van to the Hotel Manen” might come up in my search.

2.  Searching a specific site. I spend a lot of time on the Internet and I don’t always bookmark sites like I should.  But I tend to remember where I read things, which can be a real advantage coupled with this search trick.  Say, I remember reading a great article about high stakes testing on the New York Times website.  I can use site: to search the New York Times website only.  If I only want to search government websites, I can type in site: .gov and it will limit my search to sites from the US government.

Site search with Google

3. Exclude terms. Sometimes, I want to search for sites that don’t include certain information.  For instance, say I wanted to search for sites about identity development but didn’t include Erik Erikson’s stage theory.  By including a negative sign before “Erik Erikson,” Google will exclude all of the identity development sites that contain Erik Erikson on them.

Exclude terms4. Specific document type. Say, I don’t want to find just a website on some information but a Powerpoint presentation related to it as well.  Using filetype: allows me to search for specific types of files (doc, ppt, pdf, etc).

Google filetype search

5.  Synonym searching. Let’s say I want to search for something, but I want to broaden my search to include similar terms.  For instance, say I want to look for sites for web-based journals but wanted to expand the search to include blogs or other synonyms.  By including a ~, Google will broaden the search.


2 thoughts on “Searching Smarter with Google tricks

  1. Great tips Ollie and just in the nick of time. I think you mean quotation marks and not parentheses though. You show quotation marks but write parentheses.

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