I will use Google before asking dumb questions

Tips and Tricks for a Better Google Search

Google is the most used internet search engine today.  With an average of a billion search requests a day in 2009/2010, offices in more than 60 countries, and more than half of the search results serving people living outside the United States, Google is the primary global helper for our information needs.  I find it fascinating that most users of Google are mediocre at search.  Many (myself included before coming to library school) assumed a straight forward “type in what you think you want” into the search bar approach would get a “close enough”  result.  This may partly explain why Google researchers found that many do not use the search engine to its full advantage.  It is a shame because there are so many ways to make a search query more efficient, especially when taking advantage of the tools and features built into Google!

To remedy the situation, Google recently offered a Power Search class. While the class is over, you can still register to view the lectures on YouTube.  You will not find the videos by going directly to YouTube as they are unlisted.  The videos are short, and provide extremely straightforward useful advice.  If you have time, I highly suggest watching the videos or at least the ones on areas where your search skills are weak.  Here are five of my favorite tricks.

Find Similar in Image Search

When searching by image, several pictures come up in the results.  If you hover over any of the image results, information about the image will be displayed including an option to find similar.  This is a great trick to quickly eliminate unwanted images or limit the image results.





Search By Image

I think this features is really cool!  Did you know you can drag an image from your computer and insert it into the Google Image Search Bar?  Google will upload the image and search for similar images.  This is especially great if you do not have the slightest idea of what something in a picture is called and therefore cannot do a text-based search.  The downside is this only really works for pictures where the item in question is clear or in the forefront.   For example, when I searched using an image of my ball python crawling through grass, the image results consisted mostly  grass yards and jungles instead of pythons.

Search Text Within a Web Page

Google found that 90% of its users did not know about this extremely useful trick, so they made a point to include it in the lessons.  While not exclusive to Google, this is a great time saver when scanning information on the internet.  Hitting Ctrl+F together, brings up a search bar on the bottom of your web browser.  You can then search the text within a web page for a specific word of phrase.  This is extremely helpful if you have a webpage full of text or a long table of information, and do not want to wade through it.

Automatic Functions

Google built into its search bar a number of automatic features, in which it will automatically display the information or do the calculations you need at the top of the search results.  The ones I found the most useful are Weather, Currency conversation, dictionary, and movie times.  A complete list of search features available can be found here. 


Easter Eggs

Okay, so while this won’t improve your search, I like that the engineers of Google have a sense of humor.   Many of the Easter eggs are clever and certainly make the Google search engine more entertaining!   You can find a comprehensive list of Google Easter Eggs on Wikipedia.  Two of my favorite Easter eggs are typing into the search bar “do a barrel roll” and “Zerg Rush”.  Go on! Try it! I’m not going to tell you what happens.

View a complete list of tips and tricks from the experts themselves at http://www.google.com/insidesearch/tipstricks/current-events.html Also check out this great info graphic on how to improve your Google search. http://www.howtogeek.com/98698/improve-your-google-search-skills-infographic/  You can also play “A Google a Day” to improve your search and retrieval skills http://agoogleaday.com

Dorotea Szkolar

I am an alumna of the iSchool MLIS program and am mainly interested in writing about technology and libraries. Contact me at doroteaszkolar@gmail.com or @doroteaszkolar if you would like to chat.

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