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Improve your Google Search Techniques (or: Google-Foo Training)

Everybody knows how to search Google, right?

Apparently not. 

The sarcastic will point you to lmgtfy.com, a joke website that will show you step by step how to type the query into the search box and click the search button.

The difficult part in searching Google successfully is writing a concise query.

In this post I will go over some basic Google-Foo techniques that will make you better Googlers.

The secret for a good Google search is: Imagine the Perfect Result.

The page that has all the answers for your questions. It is focused on the exact topic you are researching on.
That's the page we want. And we will find it using the techniques in this post.

Avoid the following in Google search queries:

  • don't bother punctuating
  • don't bother capitalizing
  • don't search for a single word
  • don't bother using too common words (on, at, the...)

Searching for an Exact sequence, searching for a few variations using OR, and blocking certain words using the "-" operator

  • When you want to search Google for an exact sequence of words, wrap the sequence in " ".
  • If you want to drop a word from a Google search, put a "-" before the word to drop. i.e. "Swiss -cheese".
  • In order to search in Google a few variations of a word, use OR in capital letters. i.e. ‎"cat nip toys OR accessories". A best practice regarding apostrophes is to search "july's OR Julys" - with the apostrophe OR without. We don't want to lose useful results because of an apostrophe.. Same with singular and plural forms: "old cars OR car for sale"

Using wildcards in Google search

  • If you forget a word, or want to let google do show-up it's dictionary magic, use the * wildcard. Replace it with the word you want to let Google think-out. "designer * for sale" will result in designer bags and designer clothes and designer shoes for sale..
  • If we're searching for numbers, we can give a range using ".." between the numbers. i.e. "google history 1999..2001"

Word switching in Google search queries

Google search is smart. Google knows their vocabulary. Sometimes Google switches words.

  • When you're searching for "music contribution service", google will give results also for variations of the stem of "contribution": contributor, contribute, etc.. If you want to disable word-switching, put a "+" before the word to keep: "music +contribution service".
  • On the other side are synonyms - words that are similar to the word you wrote. If we want to broaden our search of "italian chair design", we add a tilde "~" before the word to find synonyms for: "italian ~chair design". This query will also search for "italian furniture design" and such..

In summary, Google search is an amazing tool. It is easy to find easy results using these easy tips for enhancing your Google-foo