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How to make the most of Google advanced searches

By Michael McGuigan
On January 21, 2014

Utilizing Google's advanced search functionality allows a user to leverage the site's full potential while seeking answers to their questions online. By tapping into these features you'll soon find yourself among the most advanced Google users.
First, let's begin by exploring how Google works so you can utilize it more effectively. Google produces search results for users by using its proprietary search method. This method compares the keywords users enter against Google's database of websites in order to find the items that most closely relate to the keywords the user entered. Google does not search the entire Internet when it returns your search results to you. Rather it explores its version of the Internet, which it compiles with programs known as "web crawlers," that add webpages into Google's database. When utilizing Google it is important to remember that Google doesn't have access to some online information such as information on Facebook and other sites that web crawlers can't access, making it so that it may not be possible to find a suitable answer to some of your questions online.
Let's turn our attention to increasing our effectiveness as searchers. Google calls the words you enter into the text area called a "search query." You can utilize search operators in your search query in order to affect the results Google returns to you. For instance, if you want to perform an exact keyword search you would place double quotations around the phrase you wish to search for. A search query of "I like pie" will return only results that contain the words "I like pie." You can exclude keywords from your search results by placing a minus sign in front of the word you wish to exclude from the search. A search query for dog -Dalmatian will return results about dogs but exclude information about dogs that are Dalmatians.
Besides symbolic operators like this Google offer special key word operators. These operators, like Site and File type, allow a user to narrow their results even further (these operators require you to use a semicolon after them and no spaces). The site operator allows users to narrow their search results to a specific web site or specific high-level domain ending such as .gov. An example of this would be a search for Huskies site:uconn.edu, which would only search the uconn.edu site for results pertaining to the keyword "huskies." While a search for President of the United States site:.gov would return results only from websites with a .gov ending about the POTUS. The file type operator allows a user to specify the file type of the search results Google returns by specifying a common file ending such as .doc or .pdf . A search for UConn Next Generation filetype:pdf will return only results formatted as PDFs.
To further enhance your searching capabilities you can combine various search operators in a search query. An example of this would be an exact key word search on a specific website such as "UConn Student" site: uconn.edu which will perform an exact keyword search of the UConn website for the exact keywords "UConn student."  


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