“I’ll just Google that!” — Top 10 tips to help you search effectively

Google, having been around since the 1990s, has now officially become a verb according to the English Oxford dictionary. I was corrected by one of my teenage children that actually, “to google” is “passé” — they now “search it up”. However, whilst the verb might only be used by those on the wrong side of 30, Google as a search engine is still “da biz” (cringe — I’m too old for such phrases). The question is do we know how to “search it up” effectively?

Here are my top 10 tips for better results:

1. Use Operators:

Operators are symbols normally associated with maths, such as plus, minus, multiplication etc. You can use them to define your search request. For example:

  • Use a minus symbol to exclude items etc “jaguar speed -car”. This will return results about jaguar speed but not those that include the word “car”.
  • On the reverse side you can add a plus symbol to ensure an item is included “jaguar speed +car”. Use of the minus and plus symbols can really reduce the results to match what you’re after exactly.

Here is an example — I want to find information about the Jaguar animal not car. I enter in “jaguar speed -car”:

I don’t get the car, but I get information about a boat instead and nothing about the animal. So let’s refine the search a little more:

“Jaguar speed -car +animal”

Hurrah — this time it’s straight to Jaguars, the animal.

You can use the multiplication / asterisk symbol * to be a wildcard to stand in for any unknown or variable word eg “* speaks louder than words” will find you options for the missing word “actions”

2. Keeping words together for an exact match

Use quotes for an exact match. If you put a phrase in quotes, google will search for both words together in exactly that order eg “Greyhound Rescue” will only pull up that phrase and no other rescue or greyhound options. (See example below without and with quotes and see the reduction in number of results below).

Google is looking for websites that have both these words, but not necessarily together or in that order. Add the quotes and the results are more specific:

Now Google is looking for websites that have both these words together in that order only.

You can also use the term “OR” between terms. For example, let’s say you want to find a greyhound or a whippet rescue centre. So you type in “Greyhound OR Whippet +rescue

103 results, but some of them included general dog rescue. So let’s define it further to make Google be even more specific.

“+Greyhound OR +whippet +rescue” cuts the results down further:

This is now giving me exactly what I want — the results now show me just greyhound and/or whippet rescue.

Note that you need to put “OR” in capitals or it will just be considered a normal word.

3. You can also search for ranges.

For example, say you wish to buy a Dell computer between £400 and £600. Use two dots between the range. Note there should be no spaces between the figures.

4. Getting help when your computer throws a wobbly.

When it comes to tech support, sometimes I’m only a very small step ahead of others. When in doubt, I google. If you have a computer error message try copying and pasting it exactly as it appears on your screen into Google. This will probably then take you to a support site or user forum where others are discussing this exact same error. Hopefully you’ll then find a solution.

5. Need a calculator? Look no further.

You can do basic maths in the search bar ie 3*42 then press enter. You can expand this to include more complicated calculations using brackets such as 10 *(42–34)/25

You can use it to do conversions such as “10cm in inches”

6. Also remember to look at the other tabs after you’ve searched.

A search of “Greyhound” produces the normal list, but if you view the other tabs it filters the results to show images, or news about that topic.

7. Try using DEFINE:

This will find meanings of words without having to search first for a dictionary: Eg Define: anagram:

(Yes, Nag a ram — very apt, Google)

8. What if your default search engine isn’t Google?

You don’t need to go to google.com to start your search. You can change your default browser to automatically use Google. On a Mac go to Safari and Preferences and select Search, then change search engine to Google.

On a PC open your browser and navigate to Google.com. Click on the three dots to the top right corner of the windows browser, click Settings, then “View advanced settings”, scroll down until you see Search, click on it, select “Add New”, click on Google then “Set as Default”.

9. Lost in translation.

Google provides a very powerful and capable translation service.

Type in “Google Translate” and you’ll see the above screen. On one side type in what you need translated and on the other select the language. Note you can also hear how it sounds by pressing the speaker button. You can also upload documents to be translated. If you need a website translated “on the fly” then you need to go the Chrome Browser (Google’s own browser).

When the page loads you’ll see a pop up asking if you wish Google to translate the page. Select OK. Then as if by magic…

… it all makes sense!

10. And finally, a few little Google “Easter eggs”

And not the chocolate variety…

Type in “Askew” (without the quotes) and see what happens…

Type in “Atari Breakout” (again no quotes) (classic brick breaker game!) and click on Images tab….

Need to flip a coin and don’t have one? Type “Flip a coin” into google

I bet you never knew you could have so much fun with Google!


Tech geek and productivity nerd. Always on the lookout for ways to use tech to be more productive. Also a learning enthusiast and wannabe writer.