Thursday, January 15, 2009

Google Search Tips

If you want to know something, just google it! But as our information rich environment continually expands, it becomes not only a question of search for something, but searching effectively to locate relevant information efficiently. Many search engines work in similar ways but Google is obviously an industry leader in search right now. Here are some tips to help you make the most of Google. Many of these same tips apply to other search engines as well.

When you enter words into a Google search, it will look for all the words entered. However, it will prioritize them from first to last. It will ignore common words like a, an, the, etc. A normal Google search will also look for stems of the same word (so don't worry too much about plurals or suffixes on words).

If you want to search for one term OR another, just enter it like that (*word* OR *word2*). It will look for results with either word represented.

Search engines often prioritize pages that others link to for information higher in their results pages.

Quotes around the search mean the specific word or phrase is being searched for. If you are searching for a line out of poem or a phrase with common words in it, this may be useful. It may also be useful in checking a piece of student work for academic integrity.

If you want only a specific word (without plurals or related stems), just add a + in front of the word. (Example: +word) This is very similar to adding quotes.

If you want to know what a word means, just enter "define: *word*" and you will get a definition.

If you need to do some math, just put in the numbers into your Google search and it will act like a calculator.

So what is that "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on the Google search. If you click this button, you will be directed to the first result of whatever you are searching for without viewing a results page. So, if you think your search is good and the first hit is that, you can go directly there.

Google Search Cheat Sheet will help you easily reference some of these tricks.

You can also check out Google's help on advanced search for more tips.

If you are more of a visual learner and are a beginner, perhaps this Common Craft video would be helpful to you.

1 comment:

  1. If you haven't checked out the Free Technology for Teachers blog, which recently won an Edublog Award for 2008, you should really do so. It has some really good resources on it.

    In relation to a recent post on searching, I found an entry entitled Teaching Internet Search Strategies. This post also had links to the Boolify Project and the Boolean Machine as possibles tools to teach students. Check it out.