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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A Student Researcher's Guide to Google Searching: General Search Strategies

Combining Advanced Search Terms

Below are a few examples of searches that can be achieved by combining different search options in Google. Many of these searches can also be done in Google's Advanced Search interface.

"Euro Crisis" site:ie

This simple query will give results for Irish websites that have the term "Euro Crisis" somewhere as a phrase. One way to modify this search would be to select "Search Tools" and put in a time range for your results.

hurricane OR disaster link:whitehouse.gov

Searches websites that link to whitehouse.gov for the word hurricane or the word disaster or both words together. This could be a useful way of finding websites that provide disaster relief. Once a website is found, the related:[url] operator could be used to find more similar websites.

Blagojevich AROUND(3) corruption inurl:illinois

Searches websites that have "illinois" in the URL and that have Blagojevich's name within three words of corruption. The AROUND operator can be used to locate a subject by searching for words that are near each other. 

"alcohol advertising" -wine filetype:ppt

This query will search Google for Powerpoint files having to do with alcohol advertising, avoiding wine. The search could be made even more specific by modifying the first part to read allintitle:"alcohol advertising". This would find only presentations which have "alcohol advertising" in the title.

 

"Who Cares?" Search Strategy

When looking for information using Google, one strategy is to ask yourself, "Who would care about this information I'm looking for?" or "What organization would devote time and money to answering this question?"

Once you have determined this, you can use Google to search for that organization's resources rather than using Google to search directly for the information. This can be more efficient than trying to use Google to find information that may not be accessible through a search engine. You can use Google to find the best portal to the invisible web or to others who might have the information you're looking for.

Libraries, corporations, government agencies, universities, and journalists can be good sources of information. Below of examples of how Google can be used to locate these information sources.

Problem: You need information on advertising rates in airports and bus terminals.

Search Strategy: Entering "advertising airports bus terminals" will give you many results that are not useful. Searching allintitle:"advertising rates" will take you to Clear Channel Outdoor, an advertising division that deals with advertising outside the home. This page will give you rates and contact information. You could also Google allintitle:"airport advertising" to just get Clear Channel's airport webpage. 

                                 

Problem: You want to know about busy travel days in the United States and other travel statistics.

Search Strategy: Entering "busy travel days united states" will yield a set of results that does not give reliable information. Entering transportation site:gov as a Google search will return dozens of helpful government websites that will have reliable information relevant to your research.

Problem: You are looking for African websites on the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Search Strategy: Googling "AIDS Africa" will give you a lot of information about AIDS in Africa, but it may be hard to find websites that are African-based. A good strategy here is to Google "AIDS websites Africa", which will lead you to some resources with lists of websites. From those lists, pick out websites and use the related:[url] operator to lead you to more websites like the ones you've found. For example: related:http://www.waafweb.org/

 

* See the References page for more information on this search strategy.