How to Speak Google

Who ever looks on the second page of Google Search? Most often, the answers you’re looking for can be found on the first one, or even in the top three hits. Google’s page-crawling spiders are highly efficient at finding pages within their index that match your keywords. But here’s the problem: sometimes commands get lost in translation, as Google’s first language is Google-speak, not colloquial English. You can help Google find what you want faster by using the best and most appropriate Google syntax. Here are some examples:

  1. How would you search for an exact word or phrase?
    • We’ve probably all had this one: you’re looking for, say, the song you just heard on the radio, but you can only remember one line. If you type in that line, Google will find a whole bunch of pages about those words, but not the song you’re looking for. To tell Google “look for this specific phrase”, enclose the exact word or phrase in double quotes. Example: “tell the tale of Passchendaele” will get you to the Iron Maiden song faster than typing it without quotes, which first brings up a Wikipedia page on the famous battle (Russel).
  2. How would you search for something on a specific site?
    • If you’re looking for information about pandas, but only want information from National Geographic’s website, add an Operator – the “site” operator – MAKE SURE there is no space between “site” and the colon. So, your panda search would look like: pandas (Russel).
  3. How would you correctly search for a definition?
    • Easier than telling Google to find you a dictionary. First, put the word “Define”, followed by a space, then your search word. If using a phrase, the entire phrase will be defined. For example, “Define Raining cats and dogs” would define that expression, not provide separate definitions for “raining”, “cat”, and “dog” (Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  4. How would you search for a specific product available within a specific price range?
    • State the product, then a space, then a dollar sign with the lower price, followed by two dots, then a dollar sign and the highest price. For example, if looking for a new 17-inch computer monitor between $40 and 100$, type in the query ‘17-inch monitor $40..$100′ (Alford).
  5. How would you search for a specific filetype?
    • This would come in handy if, for example, you need a pdf of something for downloading. Once again, it makes use of an operator. The operator is filetype:type. For example, “pandas filetype:pdf” (Russell).
  6. How would you include or ignore words in your search?
    • Let’s say you’re looking for information on the mythology of the Greek goddess “Nike”, but nothing about the athletic company. You can tell Google to ignore selected words by placing a -, with no space, in front of the term or terms you don’t want. So, your search for Nike might look like “Greek Nike –sports” (Russell).
    • You can include other related search terms by having the term OR (always in capitols) between the terms. For example, if you wanted to also get information about the Roman equivalent of Nike, but chiefly wanted information about the Greeks, your search might look like “Greek Nike OR Roman” (Russell; Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  7. How would you find related pages?
    • If you’ve found a site on something fascinating, and want other sites like it so you have more information, there is another handy operator you can use. Type in “related:”, followed by the site name. For example, “” for more sites about pandas (Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).
  8. How would you find pages containing one of several words you are interested in, though not all of them?
    • If you are trying to get information on a subject, with a bunch of related words but one really important one, you can have your search terms as normal but also use the Operator intext:, which searches ONLY websites that ALSO have that SPECIFIC WORD on them somewhere. For example, if looking for information on plate tectonics, and specifically how it relates to the Andes mountain range, you might search “plate tectonics intext:Andes” (Russell).
  9. How would you find the time in another country?
    • Google itself has many handy quick-search functions, including calculations, definitions, and conversions. One of these is timezones. Just type “time (space) place-name” (not in quotes) and the answer will appear at the top of the page, like, “time Brussels” to get the current time in Brussels, Belgium (Russell).
  10. How would you find out how many Egyptian pounds you get for $20 Canadian dollars?
    • This is a simple one. Google has an automatic conversion/calculation machine. Type in (number – units in units), like, ’20 Canadian dollars in Egyptian pounds’. This function can also be used for converting between measurements, making it particularly useful for adjusting recipes or finding how many centimeters something measured in inches is (Russell, Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience).

References used:

Alford, Latisha. “How To Product Search For A Specific Price Range On Google Search Engine”. Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 1 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

Russell, Daniel. Power Searching with Google. Google Inside Search, Sept. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

“Search Features: Improve Your Search Experience”. Google. Google, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.



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