Does it sounds like a kind of magic for search on the Internet? Actually, it is just learning a few extras to really improve the results you get to spend less time sifting through the list of results. Just throwing out some terms or even a sentence at Google does not guarantee that the first result is the best (hopefully you don’t always trust the first result link to be the best.)

Not surprisingly, Google does have help on how to use its search engine, as do the others, such as Yahoo and Bing. Luckily, these same tricks can work on most all search engines.

You will use quote marks, pluses and minuses, and sometimes, special phrasing at the beginning of your search term(s). These are called search operators, and some look rather like math.

To find a literal phrase, something with many words, like a medical condition, you want to put quotation marks around what you are looking for.

When you want to exclude certain terms, use a minus sign in front of the term you don’t want found. An example might be: sailing charters –bareboat to avoid bareboat charters; or jaguar speed –car to avoid results about the car brand.

If there are synonyms for some of the terms you are looking for, then put a tilde, that squiggly minus sign, ~, in front of the word that might have similar words you would like to search for. Something like ~food facts would include results for nutrition facts and other terms related to food.

To limit your search to a particular domain, put site:domain_name in front of the search you want. This makes you only see results from that domain name. An example would be site:fairviewtowncrier.com calendar if you couldn’t find the calendar on that site.

If you want to include a range of numbers, say pricing or dates, separate the two numbers with two periods and you could use camera $50..$100 to find cheap cameras.

The really fun part is that you can use google to do math, for example. 365/12 will get you a result of 30.4166666667. And, you also get the calculator to do more math, or you can bring it up with the term calculator.

With google, you may have used some of the tabs along the top of the google search box to find maps or images or youtube videos or other limiters under the more dropdown. Explore the others and see how your search terms are limited by the medium. Finally, Google’s advanced search, which will let you fill in boxes for many of the terms referenced above is at google.com/advanced_search.

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