Tips for using Google Search

As reliable as Google Search is, it's not perfect.  After all, it's a computer program, not a human, and so it can't read your mind as to what you're looking for when you type in your search terms.  It can also sometimes be tricked into giving you results based on how popular and easy-to-find they are, but not necessarily how relevant they are to you.  Therefore, you'll need to be specific with your search terms, and sometimes even use a couple of simple tricks, to find what you want.

  1. Try similar but more precise words -- If you aren't finding results that are relevant, try being more specific or using different but similar words.  For example, if car won't start doesn't give you what you need (perhaps instead offering a few tragic and/or humorous anecdotes of cars not starting), try something like car ignition troubleshooting instead.

  2. Use quotation marks to search for an exact match -- Try putting quotation marks (" ") around a group of words that you're searching for (e.g. instead of cheese and wine, try "cheese and wine").  This tells Google Search to look for that exact phrase, instead of searching for each of the words in the phrase individually.

  3. Try forcibly including or excluding related words -- Use plus (+) and minus (-) signs before words to make sure that your search results include some words and don't include others.  For example, "Python" is a type of snake, but it's also the name of a programming language.  Google Search may even think you're looking for Monty Python, the famous British comedy troupe.  Try python +snake, and all of your search results for "python" will only show up if they include the word "snake" as well.  Additionally, you can try python -programming -monty, and none of your search results for "python" that also include the words "programming" or "Monty" will show up.

  4. Use "OR" to search for more than one term at once -- Use the word OR (make sure it's in capital letters) between two words to make Google Search look for results that have one or the other, but not necessarily both.  For example, typing in motocross OR mountain bicycles basically tells Google Search to look for all results that have both the words "motocross" and "bicycles" in them, as well as all results that have both the words "mountain" and "bicycles" in them.  These results can have both of the words "motocross" and "mountain" in them, but they don't have to.

  5. Remember that Google Search is (mostly) not case-sensitive -- While there are certain words with special functions when they are capitalized (like the example with OR above), most of the time, Google Search won't care if you capitalize your search terms or not.  For example, typing in TOWER as opposed to tower will probably give you the same search results.  So don't sweat about things like capitalizing proper nouns; more likely than not, Google Search will still be able to find them.

  6. Look at all search results, not just the first few -- Remember, what Google Search considers "relevant" may not be exactly relevant to you.  Certain pieces of content may show up nearer to the top of Google Search because they're more popular or they have been set up to be more visible to Google Search.  Don't be afraid to go past the first few results, or even the first page or three of results, if they aren't exactly what you're looking for.

  7. If you're stuck or lost, try another information website -- If you're just looking for some general information on something and aren't necessarily looking for anything specific about it, try searching for it on a general reference website such as Wikipedia or instead of Google Search.

Go to Google

More Google Search Tutorials

See all 8 Google Search tutorials

Did you learn what you wanted to?

Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!