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Quick Tip: Use words likely to appear on the pages you want.
Avoid using a question as a query. For example, the query,
do I apply for a passport in New Zealand ], instructs Google to
find pages containing all the terms. Such a query won't
necessarily find pages answering your question. A better
query might be [ passport
apply New Zealand ].
Quick Tip: Use words likely to appear on the pages you want.
Avoid using words that you might associate with your topic, but
you wouldn't expect to find on the designated page(s). For example,
queries that include "articles about," "discussion
of," "documentation on," and "pages about"
are likely to return fewer results since information on the web is
rarely labeled with such terms.
Quick Tip: Be specific: Use more query terms to narrow your results.
It's better to use a more precise, less ambiguous term than a common
one to "flesh out the topic by including facets that interest you,"
notes Ned Fielden in his book Internet Research, Second Edition
(McFarland & Company, 2001).
Quick Tip: You don't have to correct your spelling. There's a good chance that Google will recognize your mistakes and suggest an alternative more common spelling, usually faster than you can look up the term in an online dictionary.
Quick Tip: Be brief.
For best results, use a few precise words. For example, a program on quitting smoking is more likely to include the terms "quit smoking program" than the words "program on quitting tobacco cigarette smoking addiction."
Quick Tip: Google returns only pages that match all your search
terms. A search for [ compact
fold-up bicycle ] finds pages
containing the words "compact"
and "bicycle." Because you don't need to
include the word AND between your terms, this notation is
called an implicit AND.
Quick Tip: Google returns pages that match your search terms
exactly. In his book Internet Research, Second Edition (McFarland &
Company, 2001), Ned Fielden notes
"Google simply matches strings of characters together and doesn't
currently base inferences on uses of the language. Although this
searching method has some drawbacks, it harnesses one of the fabulous
powers of computers, [the ability] to sift through enormous heaps of
data quickly and accurately."
Google returns pages that match variants of your search terms.
The query [ child
bicycle helmet ] finds pages that contain words that are
similar to some or all of your search terms, e.g., "child,"
"children," or "children's," "bicycle"
"bicycles," "bicycle's," "bicycling," or "bicyclists," and
"helmet" or "helmets."
Google calls this feature word variations or automatic
stemming. Stemming is a technique to search on the stem or root of
a word that can have multiple endings.
Google ignores some common words called "stop words," e.g., the, on, where, how, de, la, as well as certain single digits and single letters.
Stop words tend to slow down your search without improving the results. Google will indicate if a stop word has been excluded on the results page below the search box.
Google favors results that have your search terms near each other.
Google considers the proximity of
your search terms within a page. So the query [ snake grass ] finds pages about a plant of that name,
while [ snake in the grass ] tends to emphasize pages about
sneaky people. Although Google ignores the words
"in" and "the," (these are stop words),
Google gives higher priority to pages in which
"snake" and "grass" are separated by
Google gives higher priority to pages that have the terms in the same
order as in your query.
Consequently, you should enter search terms in the order
in which you would expect to find them on the pages you're
seeking. A search for [ New
York library ] gives priority to pages about New
York's libraries. While the query [ new
library of York ] gives priority to pages about
the new libraries in York.
Google is NOT case sensitive; it assumes all search terms are
Ignoring case distinctions increases the number of results Google
finds. A search for [ Red
Cross ] finds pages containing "Red
Cross," "red cross," or "RED
Quick Tip: Because some people spell hyphenated words with a hyphen and others with a space, Google searches for variations on any hyphenated terms.
When Google encounters a hyphen (-) in a query term, e.g., [ part-time ], it searches for:
A query with terms in quotes finds pages containing the
exact phrase phrase, proper name, or set of words in a specific order. For example, [ "Larry Page" ] finds pages
containing exactly the phrase "Larry Page." So
this query would find pages mentioning Google's co-founder
Larry Page, but not pages containing "Larry has a home
page" or "Congressional page Larry
Smith." The query [ Larry Page ] (without quotes) would find pages containing
any of "Larry Page," "Larry has a home
page," or "Congressional page Larry Smith."
Quick Tip: Google will search for common words (stop words) included in quotes, which it would otherwise ignore.
Quick Tip: Having trouble creating a query to find the information you seek? Don't have time to research the topic yourself? Consider asking Google Answers, which, for a fee of your choosing, provides assistance from researchers with expertise in online searching.
If your query returns few results or none, there may be a link to Google Answers on the results page. Otherwise, visit answers.google.com.
Reluctant to use Google Answers? Think you can find the information
you want if you search a bit longer? If you feel that way, you're not
alone. Nevertheless, many people who have asked questions of Google
Answers are now fans of the service. Not only does it save them time,
but the answers they get are packed with useful information and links.
It's a wonderful service that's well worth your checking out, whether
you're a novice or an experienced searcher.
Quick Tip: Some teachers use quoted phrases to detect plagiarism. They copy a few unique and specific phrases into the Google search box, surround them with quotes, and see if any results are too similar to their student's supposedly original work. Find ways to detect and prevent plagiarism.
To force Google to search for a particular term, put a + sign in front of the word in the
query. Note that you should not put a space between the + and the word, i.e. [ +The Beatles ], not [ + The Beatles ].
The + operator is typically used
in front of stop words that Google would otherwise ignore
or when you want Google to return only those pages that match
your search terms exactly. However, the + operator can be used on any term.
stemming, i.e., searching for pages that match
variants of your search term(s), by preceding each term
that you want to be matched exactly with the + operator. For example, if you
want to see only pages mentioning one favorite book
rather than lists of favorite books, precede the word
"book" by a + sign, [ favorite +book ].
To find pages without a particular term,
put a - sign in front of the
word in the query.
The - sign indicates that you
want to subtract or exclude pages that contain a specific term.
Do not put a space between the - and the word, i.e. [ dolphins -football ] not
Find synonyms by preceding the term with a ~, which is known as the tilde or synonym
The tilde (~) operator takes the
word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word
and for the word's synonyms. It also searches for the term with
alternative endings. The tilde operator works best when applied to
general terms and terms with many synonyms. As with the + and -
operators, put the ~ (tilde) next to the
word, with no spaces between the ~ and its
associated word, i.e.,
[ ~lightweight laptop ]
[ ~ lightweight laptop ].
Specify synonyms or alternative forms with an uppercase
OR or | (vertical bar).
The OR operator, which you may
abbreviate with | (vertical bar),
applies to the search terms immediately adjacent to it. Find
pages that include either "Tahiti" or
"Hawaii" or both terms, but not pages that contain neither
"Tahiti" nor "Hawaii."
[Tahiti OR Hawaii ] or
[Tahiti | Hawaii ].
Note: If you write OR with a lowercase "o" or a
lowercase "r," Google interprets the word as a search term
instead of an operator.
Specify that results contain numbers in a range by specifying two
numbers, separated by two periods, with no spaces.
For example, specify that you are searching for a recumbant bicycle
in the price range $250 to $1000 by using
bicycle $250..$1000 ].
When you don't find what you're seeking, consider
specifying more precisely what you want by using Google's Advanced
Don't be frightened by the name "Advanced
Search"; it's easy to use, and it allows you to select or exclude
pages with more precision than Google's standard search box.
Click on the
link, which is located to the right of Google's search box
or visit www.google.com/advanced_search
and fill in the form. The Advanced Search form is
automatically filled in with appropriate information from your
previous query — if you entered a query just before you
clicked on the Advanced Search link.
Filling in the top portion of the Advanced Search form is an easy way
to write restricted queries without having to use the
" ," +, -, OR notation discussed in the section
Crafting Your Query.
Want a definition for your search terms? It's just a
Google looks for dictionary definitions for your search terms. If
it finds any definitions, it shows those words as underlined
links or includes a definition link in the statistics bar section of the
results page (located below the search box showing your
Click on the underlined terms or the definition link in the statistics bar to link to their
dictionary definition, which also may include information on
pronunciation, part of speech, etymology, and usage.
Quick Tip: Practically every search result includes a Cached link. Clicking on that link takes you to the Google cached version of that web page, instead of the current version of the page. This is useful if the original page is unavailable because of:
Many people publish pages to get you to buy something or accept a
point of view. Google makes no effort to discover or eliminate
unreliable and erroneous material. It's up to you to cultivate the
habit of healthy skepticism.
However, Google's web-page-ranking system, PageRank, tends to give
priority to better respected and trusted information. Well-respected
sites link to other well-respected sites. This linking boosts the
PageRank of high-quality sites. Consequently, more accurate pages are
typically listed before sites that include unreliable and erroneous
Nevertheless, evaluate carefully whatever you find on the web
since anyone can create pages, exchange ideas,
copy, falsify, or omit information intentionally or accidentally.
Quick Tip: You can use Google even if the www.google.com page isn't currently in your browser provided you're currently connected to the Internet by using one or more of the following tools and features.
Google provides shortcuts for finding commonly sought utilities
and information, which you may have previously found offline or on
specialized sites, including phone numbers and addresses, street
maps, stock quotes, definitions, travel conditions, area code
maps, package tracking information, flight tracking information,
vehicle information, patent search, UPC codes, FCC equipment IDs,
and a calculator.
Want to add up a list of numbers, convert from miles to kilometers, or
evaluate some other mathematical expression? Instead of using a piece
of paper, your calculator, or a computer math software program, you
can now solve mathematical problems with Google's built-in calculator
Simply enter the expression you'd
like evaluated in Google's web search box and hit the
ENTER key or click the "Google Search"
Quick Tip: Use Google if you want to look up a phonebook listing for someone who lives in the United States. Just enter a person's name and a city, state, or zip code in the standard web search box. Then hit the ENTER key or click the "Google Search" button.
When you want a US business white-page phonebook listing, enter a
business name and location or phone number.
Want info on a publicly traded stock or mutual fund?
Enter one or more NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, or mutual fund ticker
symbols and Google will return a link to stock and mutual fund
[ yhoo ]
When you include "define," "what is," or
"what are" in your query in front of a word, phrase,
or acronym, Google displays one Glossary definition above your
search results. Google Glossary provides definitions for
words, phrases, and acronyms that Google finds on web pages.
The Glossary is good for finding definitions for terms that
aren't in some dictionaries, e.g., slang words, technical
terms, ethnic words and other specialized terms.
Google provides a shortcut for learning about delays and
weather conditions at an airport. Just enter a US airport's
three-letter code followed by the word "airport" into Google's search
box, e.g., [ hnl airport ].
If Google returns a link to a page that appears to have little
to do with your query, or if you can't find the information
you're seeking on the current version of the page, click
Cached link to view Google's cached version of
the page with the query terms highlighted.
This page was last modified on Monday January 02, 2006.
|[Home] [Intro] [Contents] [Print] [Favorites] [Query Input] [Understanding Results] [Special Tools] [Developing a Website] [Appendix]|
For Google tips, tricks, & how Google works, visit
Google Guide at www.GoogleGuide.com.|
By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy
& create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.