Speaking of Searching, just what can a simple Google search do?

Filed in How-to, Interesting Technologies, Miscellaneous by on November 24, 2009

Last week, the TTL blog talked about new and interesting search engines that provide information in a wealth of ways! But how can you make your simple Google searches more effective and efficient?

Patrick Crispin, Instructional Technology Coordinator at California State University, Long Beach has done some research into Google and provides some hints as a result, including the following.

  • Google is not case sensitive.
  • Google will only show you 1000 search return items. Usually, the first 10 (first page) are the only ones that will help you. The further you go in the pages, the more likely you will run across unsuitable material.
  • Google used to have a 10 word limit in its search, now it’s up to 32. So if you use Google as a plagiarism search tool, remember that copying and pasting 32 words will do it.

Some General Rules of Searching:
1. Be Specific – Google conducts phrase searches, so using 4-5 words will make your searching more efficient
2. You don’t need quotes in Google (unless searching for more than one phrase)
3. You don’t need to use + or AND in Google – it does that automatically
4. Using a – (minus) sign can be very helpful, though.  (i.e. WPI -“Watson Pharmaceuticals”)

Query Modifiers:

  • If you would like to search for a certain type of file, enter the keywords, then a space, then filetype:pdf, :docx, :pptx, etc. (no spaces in latter part) (e.g. wpi filetype:pptx)
  • If you are searching for a phrase in the title of the webpage, enter intitle:keywords. This also works for the url – inurl:keywords. (e.g. intitle:WPI)
  • If you would like to search only in one type of site (education, organization, commercial, etc), enter keywords site:type (e.g. wpi site:edu)
  • If you are searching for information within a specific site, enter the keywords, then a space, then site:yoursitename.org. (eg: ttl site:wpi.edu)
  • These all work with a minus sign! So if you are sick of all those pdf documents that you get with a search, enter keywords –filetype:pdf (e.g. wpi –filetype:pptx)

Other cool things Google can do:

  • Dictionary! Define:word (with or without space) This also works in other languages!
  • Calculator! 2+2, 2*2, 2*2/pi
  • Conversion Calculator! Use Capital IN: 2 cups IN liters, 1 mile IN feet
  • Weather! Weather Zip Code, City or State (weather 43614)
  • Movies! Movie Zip Code (movie 43614)

Other tips for using Google and new features can be found at: http://googleblog.blogspot.com.

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Instructional Technology Specialist at WPI

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