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Google Searching - Did you know?

  • May 3, 2016
  • Written by Meridian Admin

Ten years ago using a search engine like Google seemed simple. Type in a word, several words, or a phrase, and like magic one of the four or five first items listed was what you were looking for. These days’ type in just about any phrase and you will be wading through millions of results, many of which will be several years’ old and/or not relevant to you.

If you’re often frustrated that you can’t find what you are looking for when using Google, here are some tips to help you discover the true power of Google. This is the first of two articles on improving your searching using Google; watch for more advanced search tips in a future issue.

What’s no longer in use

In this article we can only touch the surface of what Google is capable of in terms of allowing you to refine your search parameters. One thing to be aware of is that Google often changes the way you can search; many people for instance still use the + symbol (actually called operators) before a word to ensure it is included – this no longer works as Google uses the symbol for other purposes such as Google+ or for searching blood types as A+.

Another operator no longer used is the tilde (~) this used to make Google include an expanded list of synonyms for your word(s). So, if you had a string of three words and wanted the search to show synonyms for only one of the words you could add the tilde before just that word. To do the same thing today, you will need to put any words for which you don’t want synonyms in the search between quote marks and let Google automatically supply synonyms for the other words.

The home page basics

If you’ve entered your search words and have the results, you can now do several refinements. Immediately under the search box, you’ll find the following terms: All; News; Images; Videos; Maps; More; and Search tools. These will all help you refine your search; most are self explanatory such as click “News” and you’ll get current news items relating to your search terms. Click “Images” and you’ll see images related to the terms. And so on.

It gets a little more interesting when you click on “Search Tools” – this will allow you to search by country, by time (i.e. in the past month, past year etc.) and also by either “All Results” or “Verbatim.” The latter search criterion appears to be almost unknown by regular uses of Google, but is nonetheless very useful. When you do a normal (All Results) search Google ‘improves’ your search terms by including synonyms and ignoring some words. If you switch to “Verbatim” searching you will get closer matches to your search words, or phrases. Try it and see if it works for you. Some people think that it has the same effect as enclosing a phrase in quote marks, but that is a misconception as it doesn’t provide results for the exact phrase, just the exact terms. Oh, and as a bonus, it reduces advertisements.

Advanced Search Criteria

Google allows you set up your base search criteria by visiting the following page https://www.google.com/advanced_search.

This page will allow you to refine your search to a far greater degree than by choosing your preferences using the home page menu.

In a future article we’ll provide you with the shortcuts to many of these search criteria refinements.

Happy researching!