Google it: Five Tips to Search like a Pro

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Just “Google it”— often friendly disputes about factual matters will end up with that phrase. We have grown so familiar with the search engine, and the way it resolves our everyday questions. Yet we have forgotten the amazing features up its sleeve.

Here is a brief overview of the most useful Google search tips:

1. Search within a website

The search engines of most websites are poor. Instead, use Google’s site or domain limiter to search within a single website. For example, searching with site:cbc.ca followed by a search term. In other words, site:example.com text goes here

2. Find influential papers

Some papers are of central importance to a research topic, often because they report a major breakthrough, or theories that have an accepted validity among the scholarly community.  At some point in your student life, you will be required to find influential or seminal papers. Fortunately, Google offers a database devoted only to scholarly papers, called Google Scholar, which allows you to track how often and how recently a paper is cited in other scholarly literature.  Simply look for “Cited by”.

3. Find similar websites

Quality research demands synthesis—combining ideas from a number of sources to form a coherent whole. For this reason, if you found something you really like online, try your best to find similar websites. Simply type in “related:” in front of a web address, you already know. For example, related:adidas.ca., without a space between words. This Google search technique is especially useful when conducting market research.

4. The Power of the Asterisk

Like the blank tile in Scrabble, the asterisk * works as a placeholder within searches. Use it when your cunning memory prevents you from recalling a word, or parts of a word. For example, a search for child* will search for child, but also childhood, children, and any other word which starts with child.

5. Exact Phrase

This is the simplest way to specify that you only want websites—where the visible body text—exactly matches the sequence of words enclosed in quotation marks. For example, “Access to Information Act, RSC 1985, c A-1”. Use this search technique to find fragments from texts, or exact titles.

Remember…

All these tips solely focus on discovering information, yet this is a tiny part of the research process. If you want to learn more about research, this guide is for you!

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Bibliography

Gibbs, Samuel. (2016, January 15). How to use search like a pro: 10 tips and tricks for Google and beyond. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.thegaurdian.com/technology/2016/jan/15/how-to-use-search-like-a-pro-10-tips-and-tricks-for-google-and-beyond

Google LLC. (2019). How to search on Google. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/134479?h1+en

Stetson University. (2018). Google Advanced Search & Google Shortcuts. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://guides.stetson.edu/c.php?g=431278&p=2942376

Published by

Adrian Castillo

Hello! I am the instruction librarian and business liaison of Vera Bracken Library. Feel free to contact me at dcastillo@mhc.ab.ca

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