The vast majority of us* use Google to search online but many do not realise there are ways to tailor your search expressions to improve the results that you need. Here are a few tips that may be of help when searching online. In the information that follows the actual search term typed into Google will be shown in red.
(*Latest figures show 88% in the UK use Google to search)
Using the + and – symbols:
By using the + and – symbols in a search we can pin down a search to the content that we want far more accurately. Here’s an example:
A search for Bourne reveals over 42 million hits and a mix of all sorts of references to Bourne including the movies.
So let’s pin this down a bit. Let’s enter the search term using the – operator so enter Bourne –movie
We now get a result that focuses primarily around the town of Bourne and removes any references relating to the movies.
The opposite is true too. If we do the search using the following Bourne +movie
We now have the opposite effect with results focused around the word Bourne and the movie industry.
Using the Quotation “” marks to search
Another neat little feature is to use quotation marks around words. So for example if we type a search for walking football we get a return of 121 million results!
So let’s narrow that down a bit. We are only searching for items relating to the exact phrase “walking football” so let’s tell Google that. Enter “walking football” including the speech marks. Our results drop to 172,000.
We can even combine the two methods that we’ve looked at here to get even better results. Type in “walking football” +Stamford. Google now knows what we want even closer and returns just 28 hits.
These are some of the more generally useful options but you can see a list of others on the Google Support site at https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en