HS Library So You Think You Know Google

How to search on Google

Learn a few tips and tricks to help you easily find information on Google.

Tip 1: Start with the basics
No matter what you’re looking for, start with a simple search like where’s the closest airport?. You can always add a few descriptive words if necessary.

If you’re looking for a place or product in a specific location, add the location. For example, bakery seattle.

Tip 2: Search using your voice
Tired of typing? Say “Ok Google” or choose the microphone icon to search using your voice. Learn more about “Ok Google” and voice search.

Tip 3: Choose words carefully
When you’re deciding what words to put in the search box, try to choose words that are likely to appear on the site you’re looking for. For example, instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that’s the word a medical site would use.

Tip 4: Don’t worry about the little things
Spelling. Google’s spell checker automatically uses the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly.
Capitalization. A search for New York Times is the same as a search for new york times.

Tip 5: Find quick answers
For many searches, Google will do the work for you and show an answer to your question in the search results. Some features, like information about sports teams, aren’t available in all regions.

Weather: Search weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name, like weather seattle, to find weather for a certain place.
Dictionary: Put define in front of any word to see its definition.
Calculations: Enter a math equation like 3*9123, or solve complex graphing equations.
Unit conversions: Enter any conversion, like 3 dollars in euros.
Sports: Search for the name of your team to see a schedule, game scores and more.
Quick facts: Search for the name of a celebrity, location, movie, or song to find related information.

Source: “How to Search on Google.” Search Help. Google, 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016. <https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/134479?hl=en&ref_topic=3081620>.

Search operators

You can use search operators and other punctuation to get more specific search results. Except for the examples below, Google Search usually ignores punctuation.

Punctuation & symbols

Even though you can use the punctuation marks below when you search, including them doesn’t always improve the results. If we don’t think the punctuation will give you better results, you’ll see suggested results for that search without punctuation.


Symbol How to use it
+ Search for Google+ pages or blood types
Examples: +Chrome or AB+
@ Find social tags
Example @agoogler
$ Find prices
Example: nikon $400
# Find popular hashtags for trending topics
Example: #thowbackthursday
When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that info from your results.  This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the care brand and jaguar the animal.
Examples: jaquar speed -car or pandas -site:wikipedia.org
When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes.  Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll excluse many helpful results by mistake.
Example: “imagine all the people”
* Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms.
Example: “a * save is a * earned”
. . Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range.
Example: camera $50..$100

Search Operators

Search operators are words that can be added to searches to help narrow down the results.  Don’t worry about memorizing every operator, because you can also use the Advanced Search page to create these searches.


Operator How to use it
site: Get results from certain sites or domains.
Examples: olympics site:nbc.com and olympics site:.gov
related: Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know.
Example: related:time.com
OR Find pages that might use one of several words.
Example: marathon or race
info: Get information about a web address, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.
Example: info:google.com
cache: See what a page looks like the last time Google visited the site.
Example: cache:washington.edu

Note: When you search using operators or punctuation marks, don’t add any spaces between the operator and your search terms.  A search for site:nytimes.com will work, but site: nytimes.com won’t.

Source. “Search Operators.” Search Help. Google, 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.