How Can I Search Better on Google?

Tekspert-BetsyLooking for computer help? Every week, our Tekspert answers one question about digital technology. Computers, tablets, phones, cameras…

Gone are the days of going to the library and searching for information in encyclopedias. If you need to find a fact, a recent news story or a computer class, you can take your search to Google. Finding the answer is as simple as typing it into the search bar, right?

Well, not always. With its millions upon millions of webpages, the Internet can be overwhelming, and your Google search can yield a result with several thousands of pages.

So, how can you find what you’re looking for quickly?

There are a few tricks you can use to narrow your Google search so that you receive more specific and relevant results. Using these tricks can significantly reduce the time you spend searching for information and get you closer to actually finding it!

A few quick tips for searching on Google

  • Google searches are not case sensitive, so don’t worry about proper capitalization.
  • Google is a smart speller, so don’t worry if you misspell a word. Google will suggest the proper spelling. Just remember that no machine is perfect, so make sure to verify that you want to search for what Google suggests.
  • Since so many websites contain common words like a, the, it, and, I, Google overlooks these words – and so can you.

How to Conduct an Effective Search on Google

Try these more advanced search methods to narrow down the results that Google gives you.

Use quotation marks to find a specific phrase, a proper name or words in a specific order 

If you put quotes around a search term, Google will search for those exact words in the exact same order. Without the quotes, Google will provide a much broader selection of search results that include all webpages on which any of those words appear. Here are two examples:

Finding general information/resources on Google I would like to find out how to get discounts on theater tickets in New York. In the first example, without quotes, I received 68,900,000 results. Most of these results simply lead me to various theater websites in New York. Pretty much every theater advertises discounts, but once I get to their site, I have a hard time finding where those discounts are.

1aQuotes-copy

When I tried searching for “theater discounts in New York,” I received 382 results – a much more manageable number than 68,900,000. And, as I scroll through the results, I find very helpful tips on how to find discounts on New York theater tickets. That is because these are articles and blog posts that contain the exact phrase “theater discounts in New York.” This is much more along the lines of what I was looking for.

1bQuotes-copy

 

Finding a person (like your long-lost friend) on Google Using quotes can be particularly helpful if you are looking to find information about a person. Typing in John Smith will likely give you results featuring people who have the first name John and people who have the last name Smith who happen to be named in the same article – for example, John Brown and Frank Smith. But if you type in “John Smith,” you will only receive results featuring “John Smith.”

Say you want to find your old friend John who used to live in Lake Worth, FL. Type in “john smith” lake worth, and you’ll get a result with all the people by that name in Lake Worth, or who lived there when that webpage was created. (With any luck, the person won’t have such a common name as John Smith and you’ll get fewer search results!)

 

Use a minus sign to eliminate a word from your search

If you put a minus sign in the search bar, Google will completely eliminate all pages that contain that word. Perhaps you’re looking for a banana bread recipe, but you want a healthier recipe that does not contain oil. All you have to do is “subtract” oil from your search, and you’ll receive oil-free recipe results.

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You can also use a plus sign to search for websites that contain a particular word. Maybe you love walnuts and wouldn’t have your banana bread any other way! In that case try a search like this:

Banana-Bread-Plus-Walnuts

Find news articles in Google News

Has a friend ever asked you “Did you hear the news about such-and-such?” and you feel like you missed out? You can easily find news articles up to 30 days old on Google News, which is a search engine specifically for articles, reports and other news. On Google.com, look for the “News” tab at the very top and click on it. Your search will be directed at all major news sites.

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Finding recent news articles within the past 30 days Perhaps you are particularly interested in the Met Gala 2013 Red Carpet. Find all the articles written about who wore what, starting with the most recent, by typing it into the Google News bar.

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Finding older news articles If you’re looking for an article more than 30 days old, you can use the Google News Archive, which you can access by clicking here. You’ll see more specific fields to fill out that can help narrow down what particular article you are looking for. You can also include a date range if you know it.

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I hope these tips will make it easier to find things with Google search. Stay tuned for more search tips soon!

Got a question? Ask it in the comments box below, or email it to editor@seniorplanet.com 

7 comments
  • james v rescigna
    REPLY

    my sister-in-law recommended your site because she knows that I’m not knowlegeable abot computers. She was right. You are very helpful. I have more confidence after this very first time. Thank you.
    Looks like I owe her big time, huh?

  • Lisa
    REPLY

    This is a wonderful website and much needed service. How are you funded and will other states follow soon? I saw you on the today show. Thanks,

  • DigitalLady
    REPLY

    These are all really good tricks to searching better on Google. I couldn’t agree more. One thing that also comes to mind is that as our population ages and they are using more portable technology like the iPad, we often experience site, dexterity and memory concerns. I have seen this in my own parents and grandparents. It gets frustrating not to be able to search as easily and the navigation can be very small and not so touch sensitive. This wasn’t such a requirement in our younger years. I’m helping spread the word about a great browser for the iPad that enables easier searching and also deals with these issues I mention above – LifeSaver Browser.

    • Betsym
      REPLY

      Thanks for your comment! I had never heard of the Life Saver Browser and am going to check it out.

      I have some more Google Tekspert tips planned that might be helpful for your iPad class.

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