Efficient Google Search Techniques

Are your students getting the most out of Google search?  Probably not!  Here are some simple and efficient search techniques you could teach your students when searching/researching information on Google:

  • Phrase Search – by surrounding your search string with quotation marks (”Terry Fox Birthday”) you inform Google to search for the exact phrase in the exact order it appears between the quotation marks.
  • Wildcard (*) Search – using the wildcard (*) symbol in a search string allows Google to fill-in-blanks where it sees the wildcard symbol.  For example, the search, (Google *) will return results about many of Google’s products.
  • Exclude Search (-) – when searching, students may become inundated with results that are similar to the desired search result but are actually not useful.  For example, when searching for information on the big cat, jaguar, it is not useful for students to see search result relating to Jaguar motor-vehicles.  Use (-) directly before unwanted search string, (jaguar -cars)  Note: Multiple omissions can be made in the same string by using multiple minus signs, (bears -football -baseball -sports)
  • Search Specific Websites (site:) – Allows your students to search a specific website or group of websites for a phrase or string. For example, to search British Columbia’s government webpages on the environment use the following search string, (environment :.gov.bc.ca)
  • Definition (define:) – Uses Google to find the definition of unknown vocabulary words (define: unknown word)
  • The OR operator (OR) – Google’s default setting is to search for all words in a string. For example, the search string (Queen Elizabeth I II) will return results for both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II on the same page.  The search string, (Queen Elizabeth I OR II) will return results on one or the other.
  • Calculator – Google may be used as a calculator by typing in a number sentence such as, (2*8).  Google will return the result 16
  • Unit conversion – Google search is also able to compute unit conversion.  For example the search string, (10cl to l) returns the result 0.1 litres

Here’s a link to a selection of useful Google poster’s you could print out and display in your room/computer lab, all about solid search practices: Google Posters

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