How to Search Using Google: Advanced Guide

Date2February 07, 2019 categoryTools and Tech

How to Search Using Google? It can be difficult to find the result you need due to the vast volume of pages Google can access, that’s why advanced techniques can help cut through to the information you need.

Let’s explore Google search…

 

How Does Google Searching Work?

Most search engines build an index based on crawling, which is the process through which engines like Google, Yahoo and others find new pages to index. Mechanisms known as bots or spiders crawl the Web looking for new pages. The bots typically start with a list of website URLs determined from previous crawls.

When they detect new links on these pages they add these to the list of sites to index. Then, search engines use their algorithms to provide you with a ranked list from their index of what pages you should be most interested in based on the search terms you used.

How? The engine will return a list of web results ranked using its specific algorithm. On Google, other elements like personalised (such as local) and universal results may also change your page ranking. In personalised results, the search engine utilises additional information it knows about the user to return results that are directly catered to their interests.

 

How to Search on Google?

How can you search more effectively on Google? Here are eight tips that can help you find what you’re looking for while returning fewer irrelevant results:

1. Use More Information

You search Google by constructing a query composed of one or more keywords. The keywords you enter are compared to Google’s index of web documents; the more keywords found on a web page, the better the match.

It goes without saying that you should include keywords that best describe what you’re looking for. That means you should use as many keywords as you need—the more the better, in fact.

One of the most common mistakes made by casual searchers is to use too few keywords. These searchers don’t enter enough information to adequately describe what they’re searching for.

You’ll get better, more targeted results by using multiple keywords. The more words you use, the better idea Google has of what you’re looking for. Think of it as describing something to a friend—the more descriptive you are (that is, the more words you use), the better the picture your friend has of what you’re talking about.

It’s the same way when you “talk” to the Google search engine. Describe what you’re looking for as precisely as possible, using as much detail as necessary. Don’t just say you’re looking for a car; say you’re looking for a red 1960 corvette convertible. The more information in the query, the easier it will be for Google to find the best match for your search.

2. Choose Carefully

You might have realised this, but it’s important to know that Google automatically assumes the word “and” between all the words in your query. That is, if you enter two words, Google assumes you’re looking for pages that include both those words—word one and word two. It doesn’t return pages that include only one of the words.

You can expand your search by looking for web pages that include either one word or another, but not necessarily both. To do this, you need to alter the default Google query by using the OR operator between the two words.

For example, if you’re searching for pages about both dogs and cats, you enter the standard query dogs cats (no “and” required). But if you want to search for pages that include information about either dogs or cats (but not necessarily dogs and cats together), use the query dogs OR cats. And when you use ‘or’ be sure to type it in all uppercase, or Google will ignore it as a stop word, which we’ll discuss next.

3. Include Stop Words

Our earlier advice doesn’t include small common words, such as “and,” “the,” “where,” “how,” “what,” and “or” (in all lowercase). These are called stop words, and Google automatically ignores them when you include them in a query. (For that matter, Google also ignores single digits and single letters, such as the letter “a”.)

When you include a stop word in a query, it does nothing but slow down the search, which is why Google removes them. As an example, Google takes the query how a transmission works, removes the words “how” and “a,” and creates the new, shorter query transmission works.

If it’s important to include a particular stop word in a query, you can override the stop word exclusion by telling Google that it must include specific words. You do this with the + sign, in front of the otherwise excluded word. For example, to include the word “how” in your query, you’d enter +how. Be sure to include a space before the + sign, but not after it.

4. Exclude Irrelevant Words

Just as you may want to search for pages that include a stop word that Google normally ignores, you might also want to refine your results by excluding all pages that include a specific word. This lets you skip those pages that include a misleading or irrelevant word that might otherwise be common to your search.

This is particularly problematic when it comes to homonyms (words with multiple meanings). For example, the word “bass” can refer to a fish, a male singer, a stringed instrument, a brand of beer, and a brand of footwear. If you search only for bass, you get results that include all of these variations.

Fortunately, Google lets you exclude words from your search by using the – sign; any word in your query preceded by – is automatically excluded from the search results. (Remember to always include a space before the -, and none after.)

You can use the – operator to exclude pages that include words related to those meanings of your main keyword that are irrelevant to your search. In the case of the word “bass,” if you’re only interested in pages about bass singers, you would enter a query that looks like this: bass -fish -guitar -beer -shoes. You’ll get much more focused results than a bass-only search.

5. Similar Words

Sometimes you’re not completely sure you’re thinking of the right word to describe what you’re looking for. Maybe somebody else describes this item using different words than you would; maybe there are lots of different ways to describe the item.

In this instance, it helps to search not only for a single keyword, but for words that are similar to that keyword. To this end, Google lets you search for similar words by using the ~ operator. Just include the ~ character before the word in question, and Google searches for all pages that include that word and all appropriate synonyms.

For example, to search for words that are like the word “elderly,” enter the query ~elderly. This finds pages that include not just the word “elderly,” but also the words “seniour,” “aged,” “nursing homes,” and so on. This really expands your search results, giving you a lot more options to choose from.

6. Similar Pages

Along the same lines, sometimes you find a web page that includes some of the information you’re looking for but not all of it. The best way to proceed in this instance is to look for other web pages similar to this one, which you can do with Google’s related: function.

The related: option displays web pages that are in some way similar to the specified page. For example, if you’ve found good information about wildlife on the National Geographic website, you can find similar sites by enter the query related:http://www.nationalgeographic.com.

7. How do you do a specific search on Google?

Sometimes what you’re searching for isn’t described by list keywords; instead, it’s an exact phrase. And when you’re searching for an exact phrase, you don’t get the best results simply by entering all the words in the phrase as your query. Google might return results including the phrase, but it will also return results that include all those words—but not necessarily in that exact order.

So when you want to search for an exact phrase, you need to enclose the phrase in quotation marks. This tells Google to search for the precise keywords in the prescribed order.

For example, if you’re searching for anything related to the movie Star Wars, you could enter star wars as your query. You’d probably get acceptable results, but know that these results will include all pages that include both the words “star” and “wars,” even if they don’t appear adjacent to one another. In other words, your results will include a lot of pages that aren’t about the movie.

To limit the results just to pages about the sci-fi epic, include the two words in that precise order as a phrase. So you should enter the query “star wars”—making sure to surround the phrase with quotation marks. This way, if the word “star” occurs at the top of a page and the word “wars” occurs at the bottom, that page won’t be listed in the search results.

8. Search Within Your Search Results

What do you do if your query generates more results than you can easily deal with—and you know that somewhere in those results is the exact page you’re looking for? In this instance, you can conduct a further search within your original results.

All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of the first search results page and click the Search Within Results link. This displays a new page with a new search box; enter a new query into the search box and click the Search Within Results button. Google now searches within the original search results to generate a smaller, more focused list of matching pages.

You use the search within results feature to fine-tune your search results. Make sure to create a new query that is more specific than your original query, and you should find what you’re looking for.

 

How Do You Do An Advanced Search on Google

Sometimes, using advanced search techniques in Google will help you find information. This is particularly true when doing private company or emerging/niche market research.

Below are some strategies you can use to more effectively use Google to find specific information.

1. Search for specific file types

You can limit Google searches to particular files such as PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. This can be helpful when looking for reports, particularly by professional associations, organizations, and governments.

Type in Google your search terms + filetype:ppt. Example search: nanotechnology market filetype:pdf

2. Search for specific domains

You can also limit results to sites with specific domains, such as .org, .edu, .mil, or .gov.

Type in Google your search terms + site:.edu. Example search: nanotechnology market site:.gov

3. Search for another country’s versions of Google

When you search Google.com, you are searching the U.S.’s version of Google. If you know the top-level country code domain for other countries, you can search their version of Google.com. Keep in mind that this will not necessarily change the language of the results you see, but will show you results Google thinks are more relevant to those in that country. This can be helpful when doing international research.

4. Make Use of Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to search for primarily scholarly or academic articles. It pulls results from various sources, including open access (freely available) online journals, journal publishers, and institutional repositories (where faculty, staff, and students can place their academic work online).

Edit your settings in Google Scholar to add the University of Pittsburgh as your library. This way, if Google Scholar recognises that the results are available to you through Pitt, it will give you a handy Full-Text @ Pitt link you can use to access the full-text via our resources. For more information, check out these Google Scholar Search Tips.

 

How to Search on Google by Image?

Image Search is the ability to search on a term and find images related to what you typed. Most search engines offer it, and it’s great. But what if you have an image and want to know its origin? Or find similar photos? That’s a reverse image search.

Google’s reverse image search is a breeze on a desktop computer. Go to images.google.com, click the camera icon (), and either paste in the URL for an image you’ve seen online, upload an image from your hard drive, or drag an image from another window.

On Mobile?

Google built a reverse-image search function into phones and tablets, albeit on a very limited basis.

First, you cannot do a traditional reverse-image search with the standard Google app or via images.google.com on mobile browsers like Safari or Chrome. The camera icon won’t show up in the search bar, so there is no way to upload an image for a reverse search on Google’s mobile search.

But the Chrome browser app for iOS and Android does support a reverse-image search workaround. When you have the image you want to search, hold your finger on it until a pop-up menu appears; pick “Search Google for This Image” at the bottom. Note: This will NOT work in the Google app or other browsers (not even in Safari).

If for some reason this doesn’t work, you can also select Open Image. Then copy the URL, go back to images.google.com, and paste in the URL—but that’s adding extra steps.

With either method, the results of a reverse-image search then appear; you may have to click on a “More sizes” option at top to see just the images. Then you’ll get options to narrow your query, such as finding animated GIFs, clip-art equivalents, or looking by the color scheme used in the original image.

Another workaround is to use the site Search By Image at reverse. It’s a simple page with scripts to make a reverse image search work on Google, and even the Upload Picture button works on smartphones.

Reverse Image Search Apps

If you prefer apps over the browser, go directly to a reverse image search tool you can keep on your smartphone at all times.

Veracity

Grabbing images from the Photo Library or storage options is a breeze, or cut and paste from the clipboard. Veracity says it will find the source image on the web even if it’s been changed. Remove ads from the interface with an in-app purchase.

Search by Image

You can manipulate an image all you want before uploading via this app to get results from Google, TinEye, and Yandex (the latter two being more third-party search services, rated among the best for reverse image search with Google and Bing).

Reversee

This app sends your pics directly into the Google Images database to search for similar images, but upgrade to the pro version and get results from Bing and Yandex as well.

Search by Image Extension

This one isn’t an app you go into, but rather an app that adds an extension to other apps. It will put one of those extension buttons inside Photos and Facebook and other apps, so along with Copy or Send to iCloud, you’ll have an option to Search Image. Results appear in your mobile browser, and come from Google, TinEye, and Yandex.

 

Some Extra Google Search Shortcuts

Knowing how to search on Google more effectively not only makes your results more reliable, but also faster. Knowing the proper utilities of Google search can help you with small mundane tasks in an instant.

Translations

Want to translate a simple word or phrase from one language to another? No need to go to a translation website. Just search translate [word] to [language].

Phone Listing

Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number, and you don’t know who it is. If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.

Area Code Lookup

If all you need to do is to look up the area code for a phone number, just enter the three-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from.

Numeric Ranges

This is a rarely used but highly useful tip. Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers. You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods). This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices, or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.

Stock (Ticker Symbol)

Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term, and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumbnail chart for the stock.

Calculator

The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression into Google.

Tip Calculator

Along with a normal calculator, Google has a built-in tip calculator. Just search tip calculator and you can adjust the bill, tip %, and number of people splitting it.

Timer

Don’t have a timer handy? Google has you covered. Just type in an amount of time + the word “timer,” and the countdown will begin automatically

Stopwatch

Search “stopwatch” and it’ll bring up a stopwatch for you to start when you’re ready.

Weather

Next time you’re looking for quick weather stats or a forecast for a certain area, search for weather followed by a location. Google will give you both before the first search results.

Sunrise & Sunset Times

If you’re curious when the sun will rise and set that day at a specific location, do a simple Google search with the word sunrise or sunset along with the location name.

Flight Status

If you type in the airline and aircraft number into Google, it will tell you the flight information, status, and other helpful information.

Sports Scores & Schedules

Want to know the latest sports scores and future schedules of your favourite teams or match-ups? Search a single team name or two team names and Google will use Google Sports to spit out scores and schedules before the first search results.

Comparing Food

Believe it or not, if you’re ever curious how two types of (fairly generic) foods compare with one another, you can do a quick Google search to see how they differ in calories, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, and other nutrients.

Definitions

Streamline the dictionary process by using, for example, “DEFINE:” For words that appear in the dictionary, you’ll be able to see etymology and a graph of its use over time alongside the definition. Google will even sift the web to define slang words or acronyms.

Play Atari Breakout

The legendary brick breaker game is available for easy access on Google. Just search “Atari Breakout” (without quotes) on Google Images and enjoy.

Flip a Coin

Press the mic icon on Google’s search bar, and say “flip a coin” or “heads or tails.”

 

Summary: Unlock the Full Potential of Google Search

Millions of people use Google search every day for a variety of reasons. Students use it for school, business people use it for research, and millions more use it for entertainment. But most people may not be using Google search to its full potential.

Learning the proper way to search for things more effectively may require some effort at first, but as soon as you get used to it, it becomes second nature.

Good luck!

 

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