Knowing how to use the Google search engine effectively can save you a lot of time searching! Not only that, but the information provided will more related to your needs if you ask the right questions. Sure, the new Google Hummingbird search algorithm can look at search terms in a more humanized way, but until we understand its capabilities there are things you can do to improve the way you use the search box.
Using Search Operators
Here are some tips on how to use Google search engine operators to avoid getting thousands of results that have nothing to do with the topic of your search. These are very effective operators that narrow down a broad search very effectively and save you a great deal of time.
Double Quotes (“search term”)
The Google search engine will look at your search term then remove any stop words and symbols present. For example, in the search term vacations in Scotland with golf and fishing the search algorithm will use only vacations, Scotland, golf, fishing in the search. Incidentally, This gives 748,000 results! We will show you how to narrow this down shortly.
[Note that your results will differ from mine, since they will depend upon your location, so take the following as an example for illustrative purposes only.]
Google will tend to list pages with the entire four words in the given order, and then in any order and finally any of them anywhere on the page – including variations of these words, such as ’fish’ and ‘golfing.’
The listing order will also be influenced by SEO and how relevant the ranking algorithm calculates the page to be to these four words. However, by using quotes thus: “vacations in Scotland with golf and fishing” Google will search for the four keywords in the exact order provided.
Using golf and fishing as an example, with the straight ‘as it comes’ form of: Golf and fishing You get results for both words in any order plus each individually – pages with only ‘golf’ and only ‘fishing’. A total of 201 million results – how do you work through that to find the page that best meets your needs? Use quotes: “Golf and fishing” We now have a more manageable 243,000 results which contain the exact term ‘golf and fishing’ on the page. You can u se quotes like this to be specific with your search term, rather than allow Google to return pages with every form of the individual words it finds.
The OR Operator
If you want to find golf or fishing, not necessarily both, you can use the OR operator. So: The OR must be in capital letters (upper case). Here we have 412 million results, since pages with either golf, or fishing or both will be returned. It important to understand that the operator applies only to the word preceding it and that immediately after it. Thus: Fly fishing rods OR fishing poles will return pages containing fly, fishing, rods and poles or fly, fishing, fishing and poles. So keep that in mind or you won’t get what you are looking for.
The ‘-’ operator
You can use the ‘-’ (minus) operator to indicate words not to be returned. For example, if you are looking for golf and fishing information, but don’t want details about golf clubs or fishing clubs, then use ‘-clubs’ in your search, thus;
The original 201,000 has now to 166,000 results. You can focus on the results without clubs becoming involved.
Using the Wildcard Asterisk
If you are hunting just for ‘golf vacations you will get just over 2 million results. However, let’s say you want something else to go with the golf. Not fishing, because you did that last year, but you want some ideas. Use the wildcard: * thus: As you can see we have now rocketed to 746 million results. However, if you scroll through the first 2-3 pages you are sure to get some good ideas about golf vacations that combine other activities. You can use the asterisk anywhere in your search as a separate word but you cannot use it as an individual wild letter.
Using the + Sign
It is possible to use + to force Google to use a specific word in the search rather than use quotes but it is not a very useful operator. If you want a stop word not be ignored in a search you could use the + to include it, but it is difficult to see any genuine uses. If you are getting results without an important word included, you could use it then.
Using Parenthesis in Grouping
Let’s say you are seeking any of several possible results, such as maybe you want to find golf and/or fishing vacations in Scotland or Ireland. You could search for each separately, but it would be more efficient to find the possible combinations on one search. You can do this using multiple grouped parentheses thus:
[(Golf vacations | fishing vacations | golf and fishing vacations) (Scotland | Ireland)]
Separate each variable element with spaces and the | symbol. Google will then provide results for each possible permutation. You can arrange this in any way you want with as many variables on each side as necessary.
This is a very powerful way of carrying out a search consisting of combinations of variables. You can use more than two sets – for example, preferred months could also be added as a third set of variables.
So far we have discussed the operators that can be used to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your search. Now let’s use this to find the information we want. Using what we have learned we use the term: “golf and fishing vacations Scotland”
From the original 748,000 results, we now have 202,000. We could add ‘club’ but on examining the results 9 of the 10 Page #1 results offer exactly what we want: vacations in Scotland offering both golf and fishing. We can now check each website and make our choice. If you want, you can also use Google to seek reviews or comments on each company.
Other Search Parameters
You can also use the Google search engine to find information about your competition or their websites. Here is just a sample of the information available using specific forms of Google search:
Allintitle: Using the search term allintitle: golf and fishing will list every web page or blog post with the words golf and fishing in the SEO title tag of the page. If you put the text in quotes (allintitle: “golf and fishing”) the listing will include only those pages with the words in that specific order.
Intitle: By using the term intitle:msn golf you will get a listing on the stated domain (in this case MSN) that contain the word ‘golf’ in the title.
Link: Used in the format link:domain.com you will get a list of indexed web pages that link back to the stated domain (in this case domain.com). you can also use a specific subdomain or folder on the target domain, such as Google images – link:google.com/images
File formats: If you are searching for a file in a specific format, PDF say, then you can use the term: name of file filetype:pdf or even photos: photoname filetype:jpg
How to Use Google Search Engine Effectively: Summary
That is fundamentally how to use Google effectively as a search engine. Many people find it hard going to quickly find the information they are looking for. That is mainly because they are unaware of how to effectively carry out a search using the correct parameters. Most will simply type in a search term and be faced with masses of results.
By learning how to filter and refine your search, you can significantly reduce the amount of work and time needed to access your information. The Google search engine is the best on the planet, and easy to use if you know how.