noun (ˈɡuːɡ(ə)l ˈfu)
A modern skill involving a mastery of numerous search engine features which enable a web searcher to find anything on the internet faster than a kick by Jackie Chan

By now we’re all well accustomed to the act of pulling out a smartphone at a bar or in a meeting at work to look up some fact relevant to the conversation. While some may think this is rude, that’s not what this article is about. For the past two decades, there have been modern search engines to help us navigate the nearly 5 billion web pages that make up the internet. These search engines are incredibly powerful, but by some estimates, Google has only 0.004% of the internet!

But they are also the best tools we have to make sense of all that information. So, learning how to use them well, will inevitably make your life easier. Fortunately, there are quite a few web pages to help you learn how to do that. Here are some tools to know that should work at Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other.

“exact phrase”
Will return only pages that contain exactly that exact phrase. (Don’t make any typos!)

+and -minus
Preceding a word with a plus or minus sign will return pages that +have or do -not have that exact term.

The * is a bit of a wild card. Think of it as the part you can’t remember. If you weren’t sure about song lyrics, for example, you could search for something similar to: “there’s a * on the the rise”
This tool is a powerful one that I use frequently. This tool will return only pages with a particular web address. If I want to know what the EPA’s official stance is on GMO salmon, I will search for: +gmo +salmon

Returns only files of a particular type as in: cat meow filetype:mp3

Will mostly return pages related to the specific location that follows as in: wine bars loc:NYC

Another great tool that is especially useful to students and others in academia is Google’s Scholar Search. The next time you are researching any topic, give a try. Google Scholar only returns scholarly literature. This will help to reduce your time spent researching a topic by eliminating web pages from sources that aren’t as trustworthy or reliable as peer-reviewed research.

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1 Response to Google-Fu

  1. Pingback: Learn how to use your tools (like Excel) | The Universities at Shady Grove

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