It’s rare that it’s necessary to put anything more than a simple phrase into Google to get the results needed, but there are ways to refine searches.
Google does so much today — virtual assistants, phones, Doodles — that its tenure as merely a search engine now seems like a long time ago. Of course, Google remains the dominant search engine by a huge distance and it underpins many of the other products and services that Google offers. But how well do you actually know how to use Google Search?
When it launched in 1998, Google famously used links to a webpage to determine its own importance. Today, its bots continue to crawl the web and gather information from hundreds of billions of web pages, but the algorithms it now uses to index them are unrecognizable from those early days. So much information is now collected and it is organized in such sophisticated ways that it can be useful to know how to navigate it more effectively.
For most things we need to search for, a simple phrase, or search string, will suffice. For example, to find out what the weather’s like at the North Pole, a user could simply input ‘weather North Pole’. Some searches can be improved, though, by using additional symbols or words to tell Google what to look for and how to look for it.
One of the simplest ways to refine search results is to have Google search for an exact phrase rather than combinations of the words inputted. For example, searching for “When was Google launched?” without the quotation marks will just return information about its launch, whereas including the quotation marks will only return results with that exact wording. Similarly, it can be useful to eliminate search results containing certain words. Searching for ‘jaguar speed’, for example, will typically return results about both the animal and the brand of car, but using a minus sign to search for “jaguar speed -car” will eliminate all (or most) of the results referring to the car brand.
It’s possible to search within a specific website too by putting ‘site:’ in front of a URL and then adding any search terms you would like to return from that website. So, searching for ‘site:screenrant.com google’ will return all references to Google on Screen Rant. You can do similar things for social media using the @ and # symbols. The string ‘@twitter Christmas’ will search for different references to Christmas on Twitter, while ‘#catsoftwitter’ will return results containing that hashtag.
There are all sorts of other symbols and words that can be used to refine your Google Search results. They can make Google a lot more useful when used, so it’s worth having a look to see what might be of help.
Google Search, Search engine
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