Google Power Searching – helping students search the web

When searching for something on Google, it can generate millions of results either relevant or irrelevant to the specific information you need, but when only 6% of people look past the first results page, how can students effectively search the web?

Understanding how Google works is key; when you search a term it not only generates pages relevant to your search but also synonyms of the typed term. The words you search appear in bold, however phrases can sometimes be separated or the results for single word search terms may be related to a different topic – to resolve this problem, Google Operators can be used to get more specific results when searching Google.

site: Get results from certain sites or domains.
Examples: olympics site:nbc.com and olympics site:.gov
related: Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know.
Example: related:time.com
OR Find pages that might use one of several words.
Example: marathon OR race
info: Get information about a web address, including similar pages, and linked pages.
Example: info:google.com
cache: See what a page looks like the last time Google visited the site.
Example: cache:washington.edu

Aside from Google Operators, there are more simple methods of Google Power Searching.

  • Keywords
    The words you type in to the search bar are the words which Google generates in the results page. For example, searching terms such as “pet food”, “cat food”, “cat” would generate results for popular brands such as Whiskas. Longtail keywords are longer phrases such as “best food for a senior cat” which will generate more specific results. When searching, you need to be careful not to include words such as “and” “in” “a” as Google will include these in its search and it may generate irrelevant pages.
  • Google Suggest
    When you begin to type a word or phrase, Google makes suggestions on the most common searches related to what you have written. This is useful when you are searching for something common as it is more likely that it will provide the results you wanted. Google also provides spelling suggestions if it doesn’t recognise a word or phrase, which is useful as it generates the most relevant information with the correct spelling.
  • Transactional Searches
    These are refined searches which generate search results relating to the action you want to take.

    • Do – transactional queries used when you want to perform an action such as buying a plane ticket.
    • Know – informational queries used when you want to find an answer to a question or find information on a certain topic, such as the author of a book.
    • Go – navigation queries for when you seek a particular online destination such as the homepage of an organisation, used when you don’t know the website URL.
  • Word Order
    The order in which you type in a phrase is important, as one order may provide different results to another order. It is important to use the correct order, however it may take a couple of searches to find the right search phrase.

Using, or at the least having knowledge of, all these Google Power Search methods will benefit a student when searching the web. Not only will it save time as the student wont have to scroll through pages of results, but it will also provide them with a wider range of sources, especially when using Google Operators.

For more hints to Google Power Searching, please watch this video:

 

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