Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search…. Far From Basic!

This is a continuing article in my series “The Googal In Google” This posting will focus on the art of searching using the basic Google search engine. I have tried to include the obvious and the not so obvious techniques. As you look through, I am almost certain you will learn something new.  Please share this article with other educators and students. Just understanding these ten concepts will assist anyone into being a more productive researcher.  As always, please feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans), I will do the same.  Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by email or RSS. I am always finding useful information to share! Let’s begin our search. – Mike

The Basic Search – The Google Basic Search is usually the first place most people begin a search and it is also the last place they end. Many times students just type in some words and get lost in millions of results trying to find an answer. Impressed by the number of hits they get, many times they forget that the art of searching is getting fewer results with relevant answers. I would like to share with you ten important concepts to think about in getting optimal searches from the Google  basic search engine.  Print this off and hand out to others. It really is the very basic in using Google. Please note that the last item includes over twenty basic commands that will really help you and your students be more productive.

Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search…. Far From Basic… The Googal In Google!

1. The word And is assumed… Example: red and white and blue is a search for  red white blue

2. Compound Words, Phrases, and Names; use a String (in other words put the words in quotes  “  “…   Example: “George Washington”“Fort Wayne” “to be or not to be” “United States of America” “Star Wars” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

3. Want to eliminate a word: use the Not Command which is a – (minus sign)… Example:  Looking for the country Turkey, but not the bird…  Turkey -bird

4. Capital Letters and articles of speech are ignored unless put  in quotes…  Example: United States of America is treated as united states america but “United States of America” is treated as United States of America

5. The root form of a word looks for all forms of the word… Example: walk = walks, walker, walking, walked

6. Use a tilde (~) to search with other word of similar meaning… Example ~happy searches for happy and synonyms of happy ~large planet (large could be: big, vast, giant, enormous

7. Putting a plus (+) in front of word to keep it exactly as is. This dismisses adding other options to root word… Example:  +walk (only walk: does not inlude walker, walks, walking, walked)

8. Wild Card (*) allows for missing words in a phrase (not missing letters). Forget a word in a title or quote, try a wildcard… Example: “Obama voted on the * on the * bill” Note this is mixed with the string concept.

9. The word OR (in caps) allows two ideas to be reported together… Example: “Indianapolis Colts” 2010 OR 2009

10. Get to know the Google Command Lines. These are useful for quick references in a Basic Google Search. Give them a try and experience the power in narrowing down a search. The list of over twenty starts with some real power suggestions and ends with some everyday useful ideas.

INTITLE – To narrow search by finding web sites that have key word in title you may type the words intitle: followed by word you are searching for (Note no spaces) … Example: intitle:ipad …  Return example

INTEXT – Same as above only it narrows search to only keywords found in text (Note no spaces)… Example intext:ipad … Return example

LINK – This command determines who is linking to a site. Great command to determine credibility and popularity of a site. To use the link command there are no spaces. Type word link: and follow with complete URL (Note if you remember to put no space after the colon you will get true account of active hyper-links, if you use a space you will get hyper-links and text mentions which will be a higher number)…Example link:www.apple.com … Return example

SITE – Found a great site, but you want to then just search in that site.  Perhaps you just want to search government sites or you want to see the Race For The Moon in perspective from Russia. Type in site and with no space follow with web address, domain, or country code. After the address, domain, or country code put in a space and the key word. Perhaps you want iPad information only from apple… Site Example: site:www.apple.com ipad … Return example … Domain Example: site:gov earthquake … Return Example …  County Example: site:ru “moon race… Return Example

FILETYPE – Looking for a great power point, pdf, or word doc. Perhaps a spreadsheet would be helpful. You may need to look up some suffixes to use. Type in the word filetype: and with no spaces put the suffix (in my example I used xls for excel), put in  space and follow with a search term. I have a list for suffixes linked here… Example: filetype:xls h1n1 … Return example

RELATED – Ever find a great site and you want to see if there is more like it. Just type in the word related: and follow with no space and then the web address. You will find an assortment of related pages… Example: related:www.apple.com … Return Example

INFO – Want more information about a site that you like. Interested in cached versions, links to the site, links from the site, other web pages that are simular to, and other places the web site is mentioned on the internet. A great tool for evaluating a web site. All you do is type in the word info: and then follow it with no space, and the web address of the site you wish to know more about… Example: info:www.ted.org … Return Example

CALCULATOR – To use Google’s built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box. It even follows the order of operation… Example: 10+9*10 (It multiplies first the adds) … Return Example

SYNONYMS – As mentioned earlier, if you want to search  for your search term and  also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term (no space)… Example: ~city … Return example

DEFINITIONS – To see a definition for a word or phrase,  type the word “define” then a space, then the word(s) you want defined. To see a list of different definitions from various online sources, you can type “define:” followed by a word or phrase. Note that the results will define the entire phrase… Example: define: computer … Return example

SPELL – Google’s spell checking software automatically checks whether your submission uses the most common spelling of a given word. If Google  thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”. Click the suggested spelling to launch a Google search for that term. Example: pikture … Return example

MEASUREMENT – To use measurement converter put in the measurement you want to convert followed by word to, and then enter desired unit… Example: convert 5280 ft to mi … Return example.

WEATHER – To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country… Example: weather “fort wayne” in or weather 46814 or weather “fort wayne” usa … Return Example

STOCKS – To see current market data for a given company or fund, type the ticker symbol into the search box. On the results page, you can click the link to see more data from Google Finance… Example: aapl … Return Example

TIME – To see the time in many cities around the world, type in “time” and the name of the city(Note also sunrise/sunset)… Example:  time “fort wayne” …  Return Example

SPORTS – To see scores and schedules for sports teams type the team name or league name into the search box. This is enabled for many leagues including the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball… Example: national basketball association … Return Example

LOCAL – When  looking for a store, restaurant, or other local business search for the category of business and the location and Google will  return results right on that page, along with a map, reviews, and contact information. You may have to scroll down to find the local listings in the search returns… Example walmart … Return example

MOVIES – To find reviews and showtimes for movies playing near you, type “movies” or the name of a current film into the Google search box. If you’ve already saved your location on previous search, the top search result will display showtimes for nearby theaters for the movie you’ve chosen, if not enter new location… Example: movie: “diary of a wimpy kid” … Return example

DISEASE  – To see information about a common disease or symptom, enter it into the search box and Google will return the beginning of an expert summary. Click through and read the entire article in Google Health… Example: measles … Return example

FLIGHTS – To see flight status for arriving and departing U.S. flights, type in the name of the airline (abrv work) and the flight number into the search box. You can also see delays at a specific airport by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code followed by the word “airport”… Example: austin airport … Return example

PATENTS To get information on patents – enter the word “patent” followed by the patent number into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example: patent 1773980 … Return example

AREA CODE LOCATION – to see the geographical location for any U.S. telephone area code, just type the three-digit area code into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example 260 … Return example

In the future I will provide information you may want to know more about when using the advanced search. Please share with others and as always take a moment to reply, subscribe by email, or RSS. You are always welcome to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Thanks for taking a moment to learn more about “The Googal in Google”!  Have a great week. – Mike


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31 responses to “Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search…. Far From Basic!

  1. Great tips; especially the + sign. Thanks for posting.

    • I am so glad that it helped you out in some way. We really do have to help people be more efficient using pre-search strategies and effective searching skills. You are correct that the + can be very helpful when used correctly. Thanks for the reply and please share with others. Remember to come back and have an outstanding week.- Mike

  2. I am so excited by this! I was taught a couple of these two days ago by Julian Ridden (aka @moodleman) but this list is fantastic!
    I’m looking forward to teaching these search tips to my colleagues and students 🙂


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  4. Great tips – thanks. I have spent the afternoon making them into posters to display around the computer pods at my school

    • Louisa,

      A reply like yours make writing a Blog worth it. I am so glad that the Google Tips helped you out. Please come back because I will be sharing more. If you get a chance please send a link or attachment of your poster, I would love to see it. My email is mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us. Again, thanks for sharing and even better sharing with others, including your students! You have a wonderful day filled with a googal of great happenings! – Mike

  5. I liked it so much, I turned it into a lesson plan! As you already know, I made it an entry on my blog, and turned your data points into a slide show. Hope that was helpful, and thank you for the tips. You made a difference to a lot of students and faculty this week.

    • Andrew,
      You are doing an outstanding job with that Blog. I visited and especially enjoyed the slide show. Thanks for finding a way to share with other teachers and I am honored that you found an effective way to share with students. You are correct that often we assume that today’s student already knows how to do it all. Reality is, they are great at using technology but still need educators to help them utilize it even better! Keep up the great work and please continue to return! Enjoy your week! – Mike

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  7. Really proficient post. Theoretically I could write something like this too, but taking the time and effort to make a good article is a lot of effort…but what can I say….I’m a procrastinater. Good read though.

  8. Mizgibson

    Thanks for this! I am familiar with several, but learned a few things too! This would be excellent in poster form to display for students.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I have had so many people mention the poster idea that I really do have to get to work on it. I also think a easy to use hand out , and a presentation would be good. Be on the look out for an upcoming posting in regards to using the Google Advanced Search. Thanks for your comments and please continue to return. If you ever find a Google Trick, or a free resource that could help others, please let me know! Have a wonderful week! – Mike

  9. Laura

    Hello Mike,
    Your tips are great. I teach my library users how to find relevant evidence to support their clinical practice within the NHS in the UK. I use authenticated search 2.0 sites, but inevitably they will resort to Google, so they may as well use it properly. My question is this, do your tips relate only to Google.com as some of the functions do not operate as stated in google.co.uk, for example, the root form of a word does not search for all forms of the word (I tried it with child and it did not find children or childhood). This is what the wildcard does in search 2.0, but Google wildcard seems to do something different entirely, or am I just missing something obvious? It’s been a long week! Anyway, thanks for the tips, really useful

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for the wonderful reply and I am so glad you find the posting useful! Working on an advanced Google posting for the near future! I do not believe the root function works as it does in other search tools. I believe Google assumes the root and its related modification. I think that the wildcard (*) is used to allow Google to search for words that are close to what user inputs; such as (th*n) could be then or than. Sorry I was slow on my reply but wanted to be sure to take the time to think about your question. Please continue to return and once again thanks so much for taking the time to comment! – Have a great week! – Mike

  10. thanks for information. articles nice

    • I am so happy that my Google Top Ten Search helped you out! Coming by the end of summer is the Google Advance Top Ten! Please return! Thanks – Mike

  11. Amy Musone

    Thank you for such a thorough list with examples. I referenced your collection in a professional development session I’m conducting!

    • Amy,
      I am honored that you were able to share this work with others. I really do hope it helps make a difference! I do plan on sending out my advanced ideas for Google searching in a later post! Please continue to return, learn, and contribute! I also appreciate any passing along of the blog and wiki to others! It is my goal to have a chance to make a contribution with as many educators as possible! Again thanks – Mike

  12. Jenifer

    Very useful. Especially to some that is new to google.

  13. Thanks. I learned some new strategies worth sharing here!

  14. Pingback: Part 1… The Google Advanced Search.. Basic Student Skills And Learning « 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning

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  17. Michael Kory Woods

    Yup ‘+’ was just what the doctor ordered (and my ignorant search for “google basic search” [sans quotes] turned it up early), thanks!

    It’d also be cool if you’d discuss techniques that rid searches of personalization (ie, don’t let Google “improve” one’s search results with location, history or activities taken into account, like “old school” or generic results), if you haven’t done so already (and if you have, link please?).

    Thanks again!

    • Michael,

      Thanks for a great suggestion. I think the personalization idea is so important because it is an actual filter we need to be aware of. I will start to reflect and I hope to come up with an article. Stay tuned! – Mike

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