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Google Smarter!

Welcome to the Google Smarter research guide.

Top Google Search Tips


Google is so easy to use.  You don’t have to be an expert to get great search results, but here are some tips that will help get rid of the stuff you don’t want: 

    Use quotes around any set of words sought as a phrase (these words in this order). This is especially useful when searching for proper names so you don’t get results where the two words are on the page but unrelated.  
    Example: Compare Gerald Ford to "Gerald Ford"
  2. Exclude
    - can be used to exclude terms,
    Example: Compare Matisse to Matisse –network.
  3. Synonyms & OR
    Use synonyms--try to think of several different ways that your search term or concept could be stated. Combine the terms with or. Or must be in caps or it is ignored.
    Example: Compare multicultural to multicultural OR cultural diversity.
  4. Search Within Results
    A little known or used feature is Google’s Search Within Results. When you get millions of hits from a search and you want to narrow it down, just go to the bottom of your results page, select Search Within Results, type in an additional word or phrase to make your results more specific and voilà, now you have fewer results to look through!
    Example: Compare Hawaii to results within: big island.
  5. Site Search
    Did you know that you can restrict your search to just one specific site? This kind of search comes in handy when you are pretty sure the information exists on a site, but you can’t find it. To use it, enter your search tem(s) and site:sitedomain. Example: Compare "mla style" to "mla style"
  6. Specialized Searches
    Use the specialized searches. Most of them are right there above the search box and they can really save you time: Images, Video, News, Maps, and more. Selecting any of these will narrow down your search to just images, videos, etc. For more specialized searches and other features, go to More Google Products.
  7. Use the Search Tools
    Search Tools will appear on your results page after you've searched. With them you can narrow down your search to maps, videos, books, social and much more. It's a great time saver.  

    How Search Works

    Search skills a little rusty?


    • Start simple.


    No matter what you're looking for, our motto is "keep it simple." Start by entering a basic name or word. If you're looking for a place or product in a specific location, enter the name along with the town or zip code.


    • Less is more.


    Simple, one or two word search terms will usually give you the broadest results. Start with short search terms, then refine your results by adding more words.


    • Don't worry about punctuation.


    Google ignores punctuation. This includes @#%^*()=[]\ and other special characters.


    • Ignore spelling.


    Google's spell checker automatically defaults to the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly.


    • Use web friendly words.


    A search engine works by matching the words you enter to pages on the web. So using words that are most likely to appear on pages will yield the best results. For example, instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that's the term a medical website would use.


    • Search with an exact phrase.


    Put quotation marks around words "[any word]" to search for an exact phrase in an exact order. Keep in mind that searching with quotes might exclude relevant results. For instance, a search for "Alexander Bell" will miss pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.


    • Use descriptive words.


    The more unique the word, the more likely you are to get relevant results. So [celebrity ringtones] is probably better than [celebrity sounds]. Keep in mind though, that even if the word has the correct meaning, if it's not the one most people use, it may not match the pages you need.


    • Don't worry about cases.


    Google isn't case sensitive. A search for new york times is the same as a search for New York Times.


    • Include or ignore words and characters in your search.


    Highlight common words and characters such as the and & if they are essential to your search (as in a movie or book title) by putting quotation marks "the" around them. You can also use the minus - sign to specify particular items you don't want in your results, like ingredients in a recipe.

    Try it here!