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Using Google Effectively

This guide provides tips and techniques for searching Google more effectively.

Purpose of This Guide

In this guide you will learn:

  • how to search Google more effectively
  • how to employ advanced Google search techniques to retrieve more accurate information
  • the details of Google search conventions
  • how Google ranks pages
  • when and how to use Google Scholar

Google Search Tips

Below are some helpful tips that will make your Google searches more effective.  

For your research:
climate change         - enclose terms in quotation marks so that the words you enter are searched as a phrase

bikes OR bicycles        - use OR to include either word.  Note: OR must be capitalized

dyslexia reading          - words are automatically "ANDed" together; no need to enter "and"

~intelligent                  - use ~ (tilde) before a term to learn synonyms for it 

MexicoNew               - use – (minus sign) to remove terms; include a space before

define: synopsis           - use define: to learn definitions for search terms   

For general information, personal use, and recreation:

weather:  Boston            - use weather: followed by a location to find weather conditions

time: Venice                 - use time: followed by a location to find local times around the world

stocks: goog                 - use stocks:  followed by a ticker symbol to find stock quotes   

movies: 03461              - use movies: + zip code or name of move and zip code to find out what's playing near you



  • You can use the Google search box as a calculator: for multiplication use *; for division use /; to find a percentage of a number use % (30% 365)
  • You should also explore the Google Advanced Search page found here 
    • One of the most important features of Google Advanced Search is the ability to limit your search to educational sites (.edu).  Open up the link above and explore the possibilities this tool provides.  
  • Finally, check out the Google Advanced Image Search page here

Google Search Conventions

Here are some important search conventions to remember:

  • Searches are not case sensitive.  It doesn't matter if you enter search terms in upper or lower case.
  • Google ignores common words such as "where" and "how."
  • Word order matters.  Google ranks the first word entered in your search slightly higher than the second, the second slightly higher than the third, etc.  Thus, entering the terms 'music math' will give you different results than 'math music'.  

How Does Google Rank Pages?

Have you ever wondered why certain sites come up first in your Google searches?

The sites that are linked to most often on other pages come up first in your search.  Google thus measures the popularity of the site.  

Often this means that the most important sites associated with your search appear first, but this is not always the case.  It's important that you do not simply choose to use the first sites that come up in your search.


Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be an important search tool to employ for your research.  It uses a search interface with which most students are familiar and sometimes will grant you access to the full-text of an article you need that is not found elsewhere.  

We recommend, however, that you begin your research by using the article databases found on the Franklin Pierce University Library web site.  To access these databases click here   One of the advantages of using these databases is that many are subject-specific.  In other words, if you are interested in finding articles on Physical Therapy, you can use the Medline database.  Google Scholar, on the other hand, is not subject specific.  Thus you might not find the best articles for your topic employing it.  Also, when you use Google Scholar you are not able to limit and sort results as effectively as you can using the databases found via the link above.  Finally, it also does not include useful features these databases do, such as the ability to email search results to yourself, or help you cite articles properly.

You can access Google Scholar here