Google Search Tips

1. Every word you put in the search box counts.

  • Don’t use too many.
  • Don’t ask a natural language question that a human would understand.
  • The search algorithm understands only terms you give it, so express your search in the terms it might appear on the page(s) you are looking for.
  • Stop words (the, and, a, for) are generally ignored, so don’t put them unless they form a definitive role in the term you are searching.  For example, searching on the term [bangles] will find references to the 80’s band along with lots of references to bracelets and other body ornaments.  Searching on [the bangles] will move hit results for the band to the top page of search results.

2. Terms in the search box are ALWAYS case insensitive at Google.

3. Punctuation is ignored, except in the case of special operators (like – + “ “ or _) which can be used to modify the way search behaves.  (See below for information on special operators).

4. The simpler your search terms, the more likely they will yield what you are looking for.  Instead of typing: [where is Phil’s barbeque restaurant in san marcos California], type, [phils bbq san marcos].  Instead of, [what is the weather like in Canton, Ohio], type [weather canton].

The Search Results Page

Google Search Results Page

1) You can refine your search by adding terms to the search box and search again.

2) Advanced search contains various very sophisticated filters to narrow your search.

3) The blue headers listed down the page are links to search results.

4) Search other specific types of media results for the same terms: images, videos, news, and so on.  Clicking the More button under these sets of search tools and filters will reveal many other specialized searches, like books, blogs, patents, and so on.

5) Change the location base of the search.  Google knows where you are from your IP address.  Search results are provided for location relevance.  For instance, if you were to type pizza, without any other qualifiers, you would be presented with hits for pizza restaurants near you based on location.

6) Related searches is just what the term indicates, applying Google’s system on categories to your basic search term.

7) More search tools allows very specialized expansion of the search, based on whether the site has images, where it fits in a historical timeline, a dictionary search, how the resulting pages rate in terms of reading level, and so on.

8) Actual URL of site and time since it was cached with a brief summary of the page.

9) Social networking tool where you can rate a page.

10) Preview the page by clicking the small magnifying glass icon.

More Advanced Searching

1. Placing a search phrase within double quotes (“”) will search for exact words.  For example, searching on [old yellowstain] in and out of double quotes will return somewhat different search results.  When the phrase is in double quotes, the results refer specifically to the phrase as it is used in The Caine Mutiny and related.  Out of quotes it will contain hits to removal of yellow stains from materials.

2. Placing a minus sign (-) directly in front of a search term (without an intervening space) will EXCLUDE that term from the results.  For example, [abraham –lincoln] will return hits on the patriarch, and other related Abrahams, but not the sixteenth president.

3. Placing an asterisk (*) within a set of search terms will serve as a wildcard term, that is, any/all terms will be substituted for the asterisk.  For example, a search on [powerpoint * effects] will return results on various types of PowrPoint effects.  The asterisk will be replaced only with whole words, not parts of words.

4. Placing a plus sign immediately before a search term (+) will suppress Google’s use of synonyms and cause Google to search on that term as is.  By default Google uses synonyms in search results.  Placing the term in double quotes (“”) will have the same effect.

5. By default Google searches on all search terms, as if they had an AND between each term.  If you want to search one term or another, place the word OR (in all caps) between them.  For example, a search on [abraham OR lincoln] will get results on the patriarch, the president, the car, the city, and so on.

6. Placing the dollar sign ($) before a number will cause Google to search on price, rather than on the number.

Using Filters/Views and Advanced Search Options

Filter Tools

By default Google searches on Everything.  You will see the word “Everything” highlighted on the upper left of the search results page (1).  To search on images only, click the Image filter.  To search for videos only click the Videos filter. And so on.  To see more available filters and tools, click the More link.
Here are the More tools/filters.  The default tools/filters you see after an initial Everything search will vary depending on what you searched for.

More Tools

To shrink the list again, click “Fewer.”

You should be aware that the Advanced search options will change depending on the filter that is in effect.  Doing an “Everything” search, and then clicking Advanced search will display a different set of advanced options than doing an image search, for instance.  The advanced search filters for an Everything search will let us filter in many different ways, as illustrated below:

advanced filters
The above search will find results about the Elizabethan essayist (1) (not the modern painter (2)) that are at an advanced reading level (3), in English (4), that are PDF documents (5), from .edu domains (6), published in the last year (7).  Many other possibilities can be created using the advanced filters.

The advanced tools for images, videos, news, and so on vary with the search.

Search Tips

Did you know…

That the Google search box can be used as a dictionary?  Just type the term define: and follow it directly with the term you want defined, like this:


That you can filter filetype right in the search box, rather than having to use advanced search?  Just type the term filetype:, indicate the filetype, and then type your search term(s), like this:


That you can filter specific domain or domain type right in the search box?  Just type the term site: and follow it with the domain or domain type you want, followed by the search term, like this:


That you can use the Google search box as a calculator?  Just enter your numeric terms using standard operators, like this:


For more on calculator functions, visit the GoogleGuide at this URL:

For other search box functionality, see:

To practice searching and have fun, see: