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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Become a Pro at Using Google: Part Deuce (II)

Using Advanced Google Search Operators:
Did you know that you could tell Google to only return results from websites with a .edu domain (thus cutting out results from .com, .gov, etc.)?

Part II of becoming a pro at using Google will explore advanced search functions that will lead you to better, more relevant information and online resources, whether for research projects, personal information, or anything else.

Before you continue reading, you should refer to Part I of Becoming a Pro at Using Google, which details some basic guidelines and tips to using Google that you may not know about.

Understanding this Guide:
The examples below show exactly what you would type into Google’s search box by being presented in bold font inside of brackets, like this: [ Google search example ] (thus, to state the obvious, don’t actually use these brackets when you are Googling!). 

These advanced techniques enable you to easily fine-tune your query from Google’s search box.
Let's get started!

1. Search Within a Specific Web Site (site:)
This one is my favorite. Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website, and only that website or website domain. This can be used in one of two ways: 
  1. Searching a specific website (e.g.,, etc.)
  2. Searching a specific domain (e.g. .gov, .edu, .org, etc., returning results only from the domain you give)

  • Consider a few more examples:
    • Search Ohio University's website for information on a speaker coming to campus
      [ Jesse Jackson ]
    • Search the Microsoft website for information on Windows Security
      [ windows security ]
    • Search CNN for news on Fukushima power plant
      [ Fukushima ]
    • Search only Government websites for tax forms:
      [ site:gov tax forms ]
2. Fill in the blanks (*)
The asterisk *, or what Google calls the “wildcard, is a little-known feature that can be very powerful.” Using the asterisk within a query tells Google to try and treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches for them.
  • Consider these examples:
    • Find articles and results on bills that Obama has voted on
      [ Obama voted * on the * bill ]
    • Find the average pay for specific degrees
      [ sociology careers pay * ]
    • Find out who the Cleveland Browns are playing this November
      [ Cleveland Browns play * during November 2011 ]
3. Include and Exclude Words (+) (-) (AND) (OR)
You can force Google to omit words from your search results, which can be especially useful for getting more specific about context. 
  • [ - ] Simply put a minus sign directly (without a space) before the word you want omitted
  • [ + ] Returns results that only include BOTH words (there IS a space between + and the word).

The [ AND ] and [ OR ] operators MUST be typed in all capitalized letters
  • AND ] Tells Google that terms on either side of it should be included in the search results (same as +). 
  • [ OR ] Tells Google to match any of the terms connected by the OR operator, which means it can return results for one and not the other, or for both.
  • Consider these Examples:
    • To search for information on a virus but NOT in relation to computers:
      [ virus -computer ]
    • Find pages that contain the words computer AND virus:
      [ computer + virus ] or [ computer AND virus ]
    • To search for information on the Java program language, rather than the coffee:
      [ java -coffee ]
    • To search for information on poverty related to either the study of economics or sociology:
      [ poverty economics OR sociology ]

Want to Learn More?
For more tips beyond those discussed above, refer to either of the two following links:

Pro Tip: Print off the Cheat Sheet above, or make your own, and keep it in a folder for easy referencing (or save them into your Favorites in your browser of choice). Practice these on a regular basis, and you’ll become a “Boss” at using Google in no time.