Home & Office

How to Google more effectively to get the results you need

If Google search isn't giving you the results you need, you might be able to work any of these tips into your queries to improve and specify what a Google search presents.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Image: Getty Images

Google search is as ubiquitous as it gets. In fact, according to Statcounter, Google search currently has an 87.71% stranglehold on the search engine market share (with the next being Bing at 6.72%). That means a vast majority of people use Google as their default way of googling.

Yeah, Google is so prevalent the name of the platform has been officially verbed. There's even an entry in Merriam Webster for google, which is: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (someone or something) on the World Wide Web.

You might have even come across this article about Google Search by way of googling it in Google Search. See how that works?

Okay, but chances are pretty good you're missing out on effectively googling with Google. Let's see if we can fix that with a few Google Search tips that anyone can use.

Ready? Let's get to it.

How to get exact results

Say you type Linux distribution in the Google search field. The results of that search will display any entry that includes either Linux or distribution. But what if you only want to see results that include the string exactly as you typed it (as in Linux distribution)? For that, you would surround the string in double-quotes, as in "Linux distribution".

How to search a specific website

This is a neat trick. Say you want to search ZDNet for Linux distributions. For that, you could use the site parameter, as in Linux distribution site:zdnet.com. That search would only display the results found on the site in question.

How to do an OR search

Let's say you want to do a search that tells Google to list any site that contains either Ubuntu or Fedora (instead of both). For that, issue the search string ubuntu | fedora. In this case, the | character is equivalent to ubuntu OR fedora.

How to search a number range

Let's say you want to search for hit songs between the dates 1981 and 1984. Instead of typing out the entire query, you could simply use two dots to denote a range, like this:

hit songs 1981..1984

The results would include any entry that mentions hit songs between those two dates.

How to search a location

Next, we'll use location. Say you want to find bookstores in San Francisco. For that, your search query would be book stores:sanfrancisco. The results would only display book stores in San Francisco.

How to search for a specific file type

Say you only want to view PDF files for a specific search query, such as PDF files about video games. That search string would be video games filetype:PDF. This will filter out all results that do not include a PDF file.

How to specify a search term

Let's say you want to search for Fedora, but you only want results that pertain to the Linux distribution and not the style of hat. For that, you could issue the search fedora-Linux. If you did want to search for the hat, the search would be fedora-hat.

How to search for synonyms

This one can be very handy. Say you're looking for a voice teacher, but just searching with that string isn't giving you the results you need. Widen the search, but keep it relevant with synonyms. For example, the search voice ~classes will include results not just for voice classes but voice lessons, voice coaching, voice teacher, and more.

And there you go, you've not only made googling easier but far more effective. Start putting these tips into play to take your Google searches to the next level.

Editorial standards