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Lost and Found: Google Search Tips that Improve Efficiency

Written by: Lorin Reicks, Project Manager

Google’s search engine technology has made it easy for pretty much anyone to access loads of information in just milliseconds. On average, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. That’s over 3.5 billion searches per day!

But, does a search always return the results you expect? Maybe not. The key is to focus this powerful search tool on the specific information you want to see.

Use these search engine tips to reduce search time and frustrating information overload.

Boolean Search Operators

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) in conjunction with search terms to focus your search and avoid wading through pages of non-relevant search results or starting over with new search terms. Type operators in all capitals to receive the most consistent results. You may also use the individual symbols interchangeably with the operators:

AND=+(plus symbol), OR=|(pipe symbol), and NOT=-(minus symbol).

You are not limited by how many operators you can use in a search string.

AND (+)

Use AND to narrow a search. AND means both phrases or words must be contained in the results page. By default, spaces between search terms are considered an AND.

  • Example: astronauts AND moon to search for astronauts with a moon connection. The Search Engine Results Pages(SERP) will return pages with the words astronauts and moon both on the page.

OR (|)

Use OR to broaden a search. OR means at least one of the phrases or words must be returned in the results and those with multiple matches of each term will typically be ranked higher.

  • Example: astronauts OR moon to search for pages with astronauts mentioned and also search for all pages containing moon. The SERP will contain results with astronauts as well as results containing moon, but not necessarily containing both terms.

NOT (-)

Use NOT to eliminate topics from search results. Using NOT will only return results from the first phrase or word that don’t contain the second word or phrase.

  • Example: astronauts NOT moon to search for all astronauts that haven’t been to the moon. The SERP will contain only results for astronauts that don’t include moon references on the same page.

Quotation Marks (“ ”)

Use quotation marks (symbols, not spelled out) to search for exact phrases using more than one word. Search terms surrounded by quotation marks will return results in the exact order together as you have typed them.

  • Example: second astronaut on the moon” to search exactly as phrased for the second astronaut on the moon (Buzz Aldrin). Without the parenthesis, it would search separately for each of the terms interpreting an AND operator between each word, resulting in different search results.

More Tips to Improve Google Search Efficiency

Quickly search social media content by putting @ or # in front of a term.

  • Example: @nasa returns results for social media platforms associated with NASA. It works the same way for personal social account names as well.
  • Example: #nasa returns Twitter results tagged with NASA’s hashtag.

If you are looking for a specific price or a price range on a particular item, use a dollar sign $ or two periods .. between the prices.

  • Example: $200 model rocket returns results for rockets priced at $200.
  • Example: $200..$400 model rocket returns results for rockets priced between $200 and $400.

If there are multiple words that could be used to describe the same item (synonyms), combine them into one search result using the tilde (~) symbol.

  • Example: ~large rocket returns all results for large rocket, big rocket, enormous rocket, gigantic rocket, huge rocket, monstrous rocket, etc., without having to conduct a unique search for each descriptive term.

Details that Don’t Affect Search Results

Punctuation

  • Example: Mr. Aldrin vs. Mr Aldrin will return the same results.

Spelling

  • Example: rocket scientst vs. rocket scientist will return the same results.

Capitalization

  • Example: nasa vs. NASA will return the same results.

 

So, the next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of unhelpful search results, use these Google search tips to improve search engine efficiency. Looking to bring your website to the forefront of search results? Leverage our search engine optimization experts.

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