As the best-known and most widely used powerhouse of online search engines, there is a fair chance that most people use Google on a daily basis.
However, it seems that very few people actually know how to use it properly in order to unlock it’s full potential. I rarely use it on my own machine, as I find it far too restrictive for certain types of research and specialised searching, but in Libraries and where other public access machines are available, it usually happens that your choice is limited to the Mountain View behemoth and very little else.
So if you have to use it, it may prove useful to know your way around it.
BASIC GOOGLE SEARCHING
Use quotation marks ” “ to find an entire search string.
eg. “love of Cheese” will only return results with that exact search term or ‘string‘.
Mark important words with a ” ” + (Plus)
If a search term must contain certain words or phrases, mark it with a + symbol. eg: +”William Shatner” book signing, will return all the results containing “William Shatner” but not necessarily those pertaining to a book signing.
Remove unwanted words with a – (Minus)
You may wish to search for the term “Sopranos” the TV Series, which will also return a generalised list of music related links as well.
In order to slim this search down and get a faster result, type: “sopranos” -music. This will then give you all search results with “sopranos” and NOT any related to ‘music’.
SPECIFIC WEBSITE SEARCHING
You can of course just type the full Uniform Resource Locator (URL or web address) if it’s known, but there also ways to discover more about that particular site if you so wish.
For example: “link:www.outlawjimmy.com”
This will display a list of all pages which Google has located which link to this site (or yours) or a favourite site. I should imagine that many website owners use this facility to gauge how popular their site is – (although they would never admit to it.)
A Web Cache is a mechanism for the temporary storage (caching) of Internet documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load, and lag. Google’s cache link in its search results, provides a way of retrieving information from websites that have recently gone down and is a way of retrieving data more quickly than by clicking the direct link.
An example of cache searching could be: “cache:www.outlawjimmy.com web” which will show the cached content of the site with the word “web” highlighted.
Another method is to use the query term ‘info:’, which will present information that Google has stored about that particular web page.
Eg: “info:www.outlawjimmy.com” will show information about the Outlaw’s homepage.
Always ensure that there is no space between the “info:” and the web page address.
If you want to search for a specific file type within a website, (.mp3, .avi, .doc, .odt, .jpeg, mpg, .ogg, .mov, .mp4) or omit a file type being returned, use the + (plus) or – (minus) signs in front as for a regular search.
If you begin a search using ‘allinurl:’ Google will restrict the search to only those words which follow that exact search query.
Eg: “allinurl:dogging hangouts” will only show documents which contain both ‘dogging‘ and ‘hangouts‘ in the results.
Note: You would be surprised to see how often that particular search term is ‘Googled’.
This also works in a less precise manner by using ‘inurl:’ which will still restrict the search to documents containing those words, but not always together.
As an example, “inurl:dogging hangouts” will return pages that contain the word ‘dogging‘ and the word ‘hangouts‘ which may be elsewhere in the document.
If you want to search certain words in the title of a website, ‘allintitle:’ can be used.
For example, “allintitle:truth matters” will search only for documents that have both ‘truth‘ and ‘matters‘ in the title.
Other useful search queries, are ‘allinlinks:’ which searches links only, not in the title or contained text, and “allintext:” which searches only with the contained text, not the links or title of the page.
However, no matter how good you perceive online searches to be as a resource, there is still no real virtual substitute for actually getting your hands dirty and searching actual places, scouring dusty documents and reading otherwise unobtainable books and papers.
Alternative Search Engines