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Advanced Googling: Advanced Googling

How to use Google most effectively (we know you are going to use it, so learn to use it well!)

Google Search Tips

All words matter, generally everything you put into the search bar will be used for your search.


  • Words that are commonly used, like 'the,' 'a,' and 'for,' are usually ignored (these are called stop words). But there are even exceptions to this exception. The search "the who" likely refers to the band; the query "who" probably refers to the World Health Organization -- Google will not ignore the word 'the' in the first query.
  • Synonyms might replace some words in your original query. (Adding + before a word disables synonyms.)  See Advanced Googling Tab.
  • A particular word might not appear on a page in your results if there is sufficient other evidence that the page is relevant. The evidence might come from language analysis that Google has done or many other sources. For example, the query "overhead view of Edinburgh castle" will give you overhead pictures from pages that do not include the word 'overhead.'

Search is always case insensitive ex. "Chicago White Sox" is the same as "chicago white sox."

Think how what you are looking for will be expressed. ex. Instead of using "my head hurts," use "headache," the term for your condition.

Choose descriptive words. ex. Use "baseball ringtones" instead of "baseball sounds"

Why Advanced Googling?

Advanced searches in Google allow you to be more specific about for what you are looking.  Considering that Google does index a great deal of information, you may need to narrow your searches to retrieve quality information.  Advanced Search is the way to do this!

Scroll down for many different Advanced Googling search strategies!

Searches are indiciated by [...].

Advanced Googling: Phrase Search

Putting double quotes around a set of words, tells Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change.

Ex. ["death penalty"] or ["No Child Left Behind"]

This same concept works in the library's databases and SOUTHcat.

Advanced Googling: Search Within a Specific Website

Google allows you to specify that your search results come from a specific website.  To do this, include your search term(s) in the search bar along with your specification of what website you want to search ex. []


Google also allows you to specify a whole class of sites, for example [iraq]  will return results only from a .gov domain (U.S. government sites).

Advanced Googling: Search with Terms Excluded

Google allows for you to limit your search by excluding certain words or phrases by including a minus sign (-) in your search; this functions much like the NOT Boolean operator.

Attaching a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. The minus sign should appear immediately before the word and should be preceded with a space. Ex. [domestic animals -dogs] would return results about domestic animals, but exclude references to dogs.

Advanced Googling: Using the Wildcard Symbol

Google's wildcard symbol is an *.  If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches.

The query [U.S. senate voted * on * bill]  will give you results about different senate votes on different bills.

Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.

Advanced Googling: Search Exactly As Is

Google automatically searches for synonyms of your entered search terms (ex. Google will search for both "ebooks" and "e-books" when you entered only (e-books).  But sometimes you do not want to include synonyms in your search; Google allows you to exclude synonyms and search only as is.

Attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don't add a space after the +), tells Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing.

Advanced Googling: The OR Boolean Operator Search

Google's default search is an AND Boolean search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator. Ex. searching ["dropout rates" 2007 OR 2008] will give results about either one of these years; searching ["dropout rates" 2007 2008] will show pages that include both years on the same page.

Note: OR must be in all caps.

Advanced Googling: The Advanced Search Screen

Sometimes when searching, you may want to combine several advanced search techniques.  The easiest place to do this in the Advanced Search Screen.  To access Advanced Search type "" into your address bar.

In advanced search, you can easily combine advanced search techniques, and Google builds the search for you.


Sample search question: Sources containing the exact phrase "nuclear disarmament," excluding India in only .gov websites: