Don’t let the simple, stark white, ad-free homepage of Internet search engines deceive you. They have the potential to convince a novice user that it’s a basic research service. The truth is, it is anything but basic. Google, along with Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, has the ability to turn millions of unwanted search results into a refined set of options. How? With some simple tricks and hacks included in this article.
Continue reading to unlock the magic and become an Internet search ninja! If you’re searching for information for a research paper, don’t forget to start citing sources (usually in MLA format or APA style). It’ll help you keep track of what you found and save you the headache of trying to remember and cite information later.
Hack #1: Use Boolean Operators
Boolean operators are words added into search strings to help narrow, broaden, or refine results. The three words used for this function are and, not, and or.
When to use Boolean operators:
- when you want two or more keywords included in the search results
- when you want to exclude certain words from the search results
- when you want to account for similar terms and broaden your search
To combine two search terms, place the conjunction AND in between both words or phrases. The results will show websites that include both terms in the page’s content.
Cell phones AND brain cancer
Chicken AND waffles
To exclude certain words from the search results, add the adverb NOT before the term you’d like to exclude. The results will show websites that do not include that term in the results.
Meatballs NOT pork
This search will display sites that include information about meatballs, but the word “pork” is not included anywhere on the page.
Note: Google does not recognize the term “NOT.” Instead, use a hyphen before the word you’d like to exclude.
To account for similar keywords and synonyms, place OR between words. The results will show websites that include one word or the other.
democracy OR commonwealth OR self-government
Hack #2: Related Websites
Ever feel as though you’ve found the perfect website and you’d love to see others like it? Try adding the word “related” into the Google search bar, follow it with a colon, and add the site you’d love to see a clone of.
Hack #3: Synonym Searching With ~
If your searches don’t seem to be producing what you were expecting, you no longer need to head back to the search bar to try out similar keywords. Take away the effort of substituting and modifying your keywords by inserting a tilde (~) before one of your search terms. This symbol, used before a word, prompts Google to search for synonyms.
Side effects of ~pain relievers
This search string will search for side effects of pain relievers, side effects of painkillers, side effects of pain medications, etc.
Hack #4: Search by Date Range
It’s possible to search for articles from a specific date range. This feature is especially handy if you’re looking for an article published on a particular date or you’re looking for updated or newly released articles.
Google provides the option to search for posts, articles, or websites published in the past hour, past 24 hours, past week, past month, past year, or, you can define a custom date range.
To use this feature, search as you normally would, and at the top of the results page, click “Tools.” Use the drop down menu under “Any time” to choose a date or date range.
Hack #5: Search for a specific word in the title
If you’re attempting to locate articles, posts, or websites that have a specific word or words in the title, it’s possible in Google with the intitle command. Type intitle, add a colon directly after it, and add your search term. Google will only display results that include that specific word in the title.
Back to the Future intitle:Michael J. Fox
This search will display articles about Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox’s name in the title.
Search results will display articles about diabetes, with the word candy in the title.
Now that you’ve learned some nifty Internet search hacks, try them out! Use these tricks and tips next time you have a big assignment or when you’re simply searching for fun. They’ll save you time and energy, which is always appreciated.
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