Do I really need tips on searching Google? I just type what i’m looking for in the search box and hit enter right?
This works for most searches, but it can be hit or miss when you’re making a more complicated search. This is where Boolean operators come in. The name comes from the Irish mathematician George Boole. George had five daughters but he still found time to invent Boolean logic and algebra!
Boolean operators are symbols and words that you can type in along with your search terms. These operators make use of the logical relationships between terms in the massive database called the internet. They’ll help you find what you’re looking for in record time, so don’t get stuck shooting in the dark with a bunch of frustrating searches. Find exactly what you’re looking for the first time.
Here are my top 5 smooth Boolean operators:
1. “Quotes”: Use double quotes around a search to find that specific name or phrase in its exact order. If you’re looking for the phrase day in the park, use quotes to avoid results that may just include day, park, etc. Keep in mind that Google might filter out some relevant results so if you search “Hunter Thompson” you’ll miss results that include Hunter S. Thompson.
2. -Minus Sign: Attach a minus sign right in front of the word that you want to exclude from a search. You could search for laptop computer reviews -dell and you’ll only see non-dell computer reviews.
3. + Plus Sign: Google automatically searches for synonyms so if you search for la nightclubs, you’ll also get results for los angeles nightclubs. Sometimes Google might be overly helpful in this regard so add a + in front of a word to only search for that exact term. You can also use quotes for the same effect or combine quotes with the + such as “+la nightclubs”.
4. OR: By default Google inserts an invisible and in between each word in a search. Insert an OR (all caps) to search for separate results such as San Francisco 49ers 2010 OR 2011. If you search San Francisco 49ers 2010 2011, you will see results that include both of these terms on the same web page.
5. *Wildcard: Use the star * as a placeholder for an unknown term. In a search such as Apple * you will get results for a variety of products and information related to Apple Inc. with Google filling in the best matches. Another example is Barack Obama * speech to see speeches on various subjects by President Obama.
Google is a powerful tool that helps most of us find what we need using a simple search. When we want to go beyond the basics though, Boolean operators can help us to focus our searches like a laser beam. To take Boolean searches a step further, try using these operators in some of Google’s specialty search areas such as Google News, Google Images or Google Scholar.
What tricks do you use to search Google? Which search engine do you use most, Google, Bing, Yahoo or others?