Google is the go-to place for almost every single person with a working internet connection who wants to get some valid information quickly and without much of a hassle. However, what most people don’t know is that there are certain commands, called search operators, which can be used in Google’s search box that can help you in a number of ways.
These are either shortcuts to finding something a bit more particular, or tools you can use which help with finding academic-grade research sources. In the following, we’ll explore a few of these operators, along with talking a little bit about what they do and their potential uses.
Easier, More Accurate and Tailored Searches
To start off, we’ll take a look at the fundamental search operators, the ones which can make your life a lot easier if you’re using Google on a more regular basis, like at your job. The first being the “-“ and “+” signs. Say you want to search for a specific term, but want to avoid getting results for another term often associated with what you’re searching for.
An example of this would be searching for ‘presentation’, and not wanting to get any results pertaining to ‘presentation design’, you’d type in the search box ‘presentation -design’. Same goes with the “+”, where the reverse applies.
Another powerful and basic search operator is using double quotes with your search term. This will result in Google only offering web pages which contain the exact expression you searched for, so if you wanted to search for ‘social media usage statistics’, and wanted only websites where these exact words, in this exact order are found, you’d input: “social media usage statistics”.
For Research and Academic Purposes
In many instances, academic papers have high standards when it comes to the sources they can cite. To that end, you may already have a list of a few websites which are deemed as reliable sources, and you’re often forced to browse a long while through these websites in order to find the relevant bit of information you’re after. Using the search operator ‘site:reliablewebsite.com Your Search Term Here’, you’ll get all results of Your Search Term Here found by Google on reliablewebsite.com.
Want to check if a website is truly reliable? Google also offers a basic tool to do that – finding out how many exterior sources link to that. Since you’re not the webmaster of the site you want to check on, you can use the ‘link: http://example.com/’ search operator to see how many websites and online resources link back to this website, for example.
Keep in mind that for academic and research purposes, it’s always a good sign to see that some of these outside sources are .edu domains. If there are a few .edu domains linking back to your queried website, then it’s pretty likely that you’ll find valid info on that site – although it’s always a good idea to check what the sources have to say about who they link to as well.
Of course, you can mix and match most of these operators for even further fine-tuning of search results. But using them a couple of times will make them part of your search routine, so you’ll find soon enough that your Google searches are more accurate, tailored specifically to what you need to find and have less fluff in the results.