Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How Can I Improve My Google Searches?

     Most people agree that Google is an amazing search engine.  However, most of us just enter a word or two and look for quick results on the first page.  Most people don’t understand how truly sophisticated a Google Search can be.  By using a few simple techniques in your searches, you can have even better and more significant results from Google. 

     All of the really cool Google search tips and ideas listed below can be used on a Google Custom Search Engine, such as https://www.Infotopia.info or https://www.Kidtopia.info.  In addition to accessing resources that are age-appropriate and pre-approved by teachers and librarians, all of the search techniques below work as well. Make your searches more powerful by trying some of these amazing search tips!

·      Search for an exact word or phrase
One of the easiest ways to improve a Google search is to use quotation marks to search for an exact word or a set of words.  This works well if you are looking for a line from a book or poem, song lyrics, and if you are looking for an exact word or phrase.  Example: “For whom the bell tolls”

·      Exclude a Word or Website
One of the easiest ways for students to make a mistake when searching via Google is to use an ambiguous words or a word with several connotations.  To exclude a word, type the keyword and a space, and then type a minus or dash sign plus the word you want to exclude.  If you want to exclude a website in the results, use the same technique, but use -site: followed by the website to be excluded.  Examples:  mercury -planet or climate -site:wikipedia.org

·      Use a Wildcard
If you want to fill in the blank for a quotation or a phrase you are looking for, use an asterisk (*). Be sure to enclose the phrase in quotation marks. This is sometimes called a “wildcard.”  Example:  “A rose by any other*”

·      Use OR
To include several related words in a keyword search, use OR in all capital letters.  Example:  teenager OR adolescent

·      Find Definitions
Just type define: followed by the word for which you are seeking a definition.  The results will be displayed at the top of the page.  Google will offer the definition, the part of speech, the pronunciation of the word, similar and related words, the word’s origins, and translations into many other languages. Example: define:psychology
·      Correct Spelling
Just type spell: followed by the closest spelling that you know for the word.  Google will suggest a word and follow with the all the information given under “Definitions” above. Example: spell:psychologie  (Google will correct the spelling.

·      Use a Unit Convertor
Google will convert area, length, mass, pressure, temperature (Celsius vs. Fahrenheit), time, volume, currency, and more, after you type your entry into the search box.  Example: 40 euros or 32 degrees F

·      Use a Stopwatch or Timer
Just type in stopwatch, and both a stopwatch and timer will appear at the top of the results, ready for you to use.

·      Use a Calculator
Enter a math problem directly into the search box and Google will solve the problem, at the top of the results. 

·      Find the Weather
If you type weather into the search box, a box immediately pops up that shows your local seven day forecast, including temperature, precipitation, wind velocity, etc.  You can also add a different city if you are looking for the weather somewhere else in the world.

·      Do a Site Search
If you want to find an article on climate change on a specific website,  just type in site: followed immediately by the website you want to use.  Then, skip a space and type in the search keywords.   Here’s an example: site:nasa.gov climate change. You’ll find an article on climate change on the nasa.gov website.  You can try this with almost any website.

·      Find Related Sites
To search for related sites, just type Related: followed by the website for which you are looking for a similar site.  Example: Related:webmd.com or Related:cnn.com  

·      Search Social Media
Search social media by typing the social media site followed by a colon and the person or business you are looking for.  Example: facebook:keto or instagram:keto

·      Explore Sports
Simply type in the name of a team or player into the Google Search Box and Google will immediately display all pertinent information: the latest game, scores, news articles, standings, and the names of players.

·      Get Stock Quotes
Just type the symbol of a stock, or type stock quote and the name of the stock and you’ll get a graph of the stock prices, with detailed financial information.  You can also click on “Follow” to keep track of changes for particular stocks. Example: aapl or amz

·      Find Nutritional Information
Just type nutrition: followed by the name of the food for which you are searching. A large chart will pop up with the full nutritional information, such as total calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, protein, vitamin information, etc. Example: nutrition:potato

·      Search for a Hashtag
Just type in a hashtag (#) and a word and you will see articles about that topic as well as Twitter links to that topic.  Try it with #winter.

·      Use Google Tabs
Whenever you perform a Google search, you will notice that a set of tabs is displayed at the top of the page.  These tabs might include images, videos, news, books, maps, shopping, or others.  If you are only searching for an image, just click on the image tab and only images will be displayed.  Tabs are an excellent way to improve your search results.

·      Search by File Type
Many Google users are not aware of this search technique.  It can be a very useful search, especially for teachers.  If you are looking for a presentation (PPT) or a document (PDF) for a certain topic, just type the keyword and a space followed by filetype:PDF or filetype:PPT.  Examples:  biomes filetype:PDF or biomes filetype:PPT.    Google will locate all the PDFs and PPTs on your chosen topic.

Other Really Cool Google Ideas

·      Use Drag and Drop Features in Google Image Search
Are you trying to identify a certain image or photograph by location or by name?  A unique feature of Google Search allows you to drag and drop the image into a Google Image Search box.  Just type in Google Images in the Google search box, click on the link, and then drag and drop the image into the Google Images search box.  Google will display and identify the image or identify similar images.

·      Translate with Google
If you type Google Translate into the search box, a free Google Translator will appear, allowing you to translate words and phrases from one language to another, with several hundred languages available.  Google Translate is also available as an app for your smart device.

·      Explore Travel Information
Type Google Flights into a Google search box and click on the link to Google Flights.  Then type the names of two airports (or their airport codes) and the dates into the search boxes.  Google will then display all the flights and the pricing available, from multiple airlines. Often, there is a link to the airlines’ websites for booking the flight directly.

·      Create a Google Alert
Are you watching for news on a certain topic?  You can set a Google Alert to send pertinent notifications to you.  An example might be to keep informed about a certain diet or a certain politician.  Type in google.com/alerts in the Google search box. Click on the link to Google Alerts and enter the search term you for which are seeking alerts.  You can select how often you want your alerts to be sent to you, as well as the language, region, and the email to receive the alerts.

·      Employ Google Advanced Image Search
This an amazing feature offered by Google if you looking for a specific image to be used in a presentation or web page.  First, type in Google Advanced Image Search in the search box and click on the result. You can then search for an image by keyword or phrase, image size, aspect ratio, color, type of image, region, file type, and usage rights.  The usage rights will tell you if the image is free to use, share, or modify, even for commercial purposes. 

Share your comments:

·      What is your favorite Google search tip in this article? 

·      Which Google Search tip was the most surprising to you?

·      Share a unique Google Search tip that you have discovered.

·      Why is it advantageous for students to use a Google custom search engine such as Infotopia or Kidtopia rather than the full version of Google?

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