As college students, we spend a fair amount of our time using Google to research for school or to simply satisfy our own curiosities. Surprisingly, despite our massive time investments, very few students know more than the most basic search techniques.
By applying these five expert search techniques, you can save time and learn more.
1. Search for phrases
I find this technique particularly useful when searching for an article or website that I had found earlier, but then forgotten. If I can just remember a few keywords in the proper order, the phrase search technique will help me uncover the correct result much more quickly.
For instance, if I am trying to recover an article I read about study groups, but I can’t remember the name or the website’s name, simply adding double quotation marks can make the task much easier.
Example: “puzzling over the difficulty”
2. Exclude certain words
Search results are constantly fine tuned by Google to provide the most accurate results to the largest number of searchers. Normally, this makes for excellent results, but, when your search is slightly unusual, it can lead to problems. By excluding certain words, though, you can easily solve that problem.
For instance, when researching for a paper on dolphins in the state of Florida, the Miami Dolphins sports team will clutter the results. Once I exclude the term “Miami”, however, my results become much more accurate.
Example: florida dolphins -miami
3. Search for a quick definition
In the modern world of instant results, looking words up in a dictionary can seem tediously slow – causing us to miss valuable opportunities to expand our vocabulary. By harnessing the power of Google, however, you can save time and expand your vocabulary.
Just search for the word “define” followed by the word you would like to learn.
Example: define scholar
4. Search for a weather forecast
Wondering how you should dress for the day? Curious about what to pack for the trip home? Using Google, you can find answers to both those questions in a matter of seconds.
Simply enter the word “weather”, and it will automatically provide the current temperature, weather, wind speed, and forecast for your computer’s location. To search for a different city, just search for that city’s name or zip code followed by the word “weather”.
5. Search for the correct spelling
We know how important it is to maintain the proper spelling of words, but, unfortunately, not all programs have spell checkers included.
Before the world collapses (or you email a misspelled word), try searching Google for a spelling correction. Just search for the closest phonetic spelling, and the built in search suggest will usually give you the corrected spelling… all in a matter of seconds!
Bonus: Recover missing websites
Ultimately, even the most expert searchers are foiled if the page they are searching for is temporarily offline… or are they?
Thanks to Google, problematic or offline websites can’t stop the best search manipulators. By using Google’s cache feature, you can pull up the latest version of the page directly from Google’s servers.
Just click the angle brackets next to the wanted search result to view the site preview; then click the link labeled “Cached”. While you will not be able to browse internal links on the site (unless you search for them in Google also), this cached page will let you see all text and some images from that particular article.
By learning a few of the most useful searching techniques, you can learn more (the goal of college) while saving time (a college student’s most precious commodity). What more could we ask for?
What are your favorite search tips?