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How to Search Google Like a Pro

Google is estimated to process over 40,000 search queries a second, which adds up to over 3.5 billion searches every day (and over 1.2 trillion a year). It has, in its Index, hundreds of billions of web pages, an Index which is over 100,000,000GB in size.

So how do you wade through the billions to find the search results you need? You Google like a pro, that’s how!

Exact Search (“”)

Google will try to show you things that it thinks are relevant to your search query, but doesn’t always succeed in this. By adding quotation marks around a search term, Google will perform an exact search of the word or phrase you used, often returning more relevant results. E.g “motorbikes for sale UK”.

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Search for Social Media (@#)

There are two ways to search specifically for social media results: using @ and #. For example, if you want to find twitter accounts about motorbikes, try searching for “@motorbikes” or “#motorbikes” (with the quotation marks for an even more defined search).

Search Multiple Single Words (OR)

You can use the OR modifier to show search results which two different search terms at the same time. For example, you could search for “Blue sweaters OR Red sweaters”

Search at a Specific Price (£$)

If you are searching for a product, and want to see results for products in your budget, you can use £ or $ and a number to refine the results. For example “Sony camera $400” should show you cameras at about that price. You can also try searching within a range of prices “Sony camera £100..£400” (you need to include the two periods ..)

You can use this range modifier for other things too, including weights, years, etc. E.g. “dumbbells 5..15KG”.

Excluding Words (-)

You can exclude words from search results using – (minus). It may sound strange to tell Google not to search for words you are typing into the search box, but bear with us. Let’s say you want to search for information about the speed of a Jaguar (the cat, not the car), you could type “Jaguar speed -car” (without quotation marks) to see fewer results about the speed of the latest XR, and more about the feline hunter.

Search Only on a Single Website (site:)

If you want to find results only from a single website, you can use the site: modifier. For example, to search for Windows 10 tips on the Black Dog Media website, you could type “site:bdmpublications.com windows 10 tips” (there should be no space between site: and the URL). You can also use this to search only for certain domains, e.g. “site:.gov” or “site:.org”.


Using Advanced Search

Google features several tools for refining your searches after they have returned results, as well as an advanced search tool which lets you define things like the language of the results or when a page was last updated.

To modify a completed search, use the two drop-down menus “Any time” and “All results” below the category tabs on the search results page. These let you change results by their date and whether the term should be search verbatim.

To use Advanced Search, on the results page or on a new Google search page, click Settings and then choose “Advanced search”. A new page will open with several advanced search options on it you can use.

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Using Safe Search

Google features a Safe Search option which allows you to select the age rating of the search results. This applies to web search results, as well as images, videos and books and can help to remove sexually explicit content. No filter is 100 per cent accurate, but Safe Search should help you avoid most of this type of material.

Step 1 – Perform a search and check the results. If there are websites listed that you think are inappropriate, click the Setting link in the top right beneath the search bar and select Search Settings.

Step 2 – At the top of the search settings screen you should see a Safe Search on/off link. Click the turn on Safe Search link to activate it. You can lock Safe Search on by selecting this option too.

Step 3 – If you want the page to display all results, regardless of content, DO NOT activate Safe Search. If you have changed your mind you can deactivate via the Settings link at the top of the page.

Step 4 – Your browser should remember the setting when you next use Google search. If you want to make sure that the safe search setting is not changed, you will have to sign in to a Google account.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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