10 top Google search tips

Google is the world’s most popular search engine with good reason, it’s much better at providing accurate results than Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo! Search. Despite offering roughly the right answer to your query on most occasions, there are several ways to get a spot on response every time you search.

From finding a word’s dictionary definition to checking this weekend’s weather, our top 10 Google search tips are here to help.

Helpdesk Challenge – read all our tips for your everyday computing woes

1. Search for the exact word or phrase

Google Keaton

Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase. For example, if you were to search “Michael John Douglas” using quotation marks, this would give you results for Michael Keaton instead of the Wall Street star.

2. Use the ‘OR’ command

Google OR

The ‘OR’ operator lets you to search for one word or another. For example, using the search above will give results that contain either “Wayne Rooney” or “Manchester United”. This allows you to achieve more specific results and when searching around a topic.

3. Search with a picture

Google Picture Search

Want to find more information about a picture? Go to Google Images and click on the camera icon in the search bar. This will prompt you to post in a photo’s URL or upload it yourself to Google. Once this is done, you’ll get a relevant set of results.

4. Site search

Google Site Search

Using the site: operator allows you to search for a specific website. For example, if you were looking for our past Computing Helpdesk posts, you could do the above.

5. Search by file type

Google pdf

filetype: allows you to search for files of a specific file type like pdfs and word documents.

6. Define words

Google Define

define: allows you to search for a definition of a word, even really long ones.

7. Weather

Google Weather

Get an interactive seven-day weather forecast by searching for location weather.

8. Transatlantic time

Google Time

You can view the current time in any city around the world using time name of city.

9. Currency conversion

Google Currency

For a quick and easy currency conversion, search monetary amount in currency as per the above example.

10. Sports scores

Google Southampton

Find out what’s happening with your favourite sports team’s latest news, scores and fixtures with one search.

More on this

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17 replies

  1. Can anyone explain why I get different results in my attempts to find the homepage for a local restaurant, using the following search arguments?

    1) herons nest knowle 358,000 results with the homepage at the top
    2) “herons nest” knowle 4,320 results with the homepage at the top
    3) herons nest +knowle 1 result, a direct hit on the homepage
    4) “herons nest” +knowle No results at all!
    5) herons nest AND knowle About 8,930,000 with the homepage at the top
    6) “herons nest” AND knowle About 10,700 results with the homepage at the top

    Didn’t “AND”, “+” and ” ” (space) all mean the same thing some years ago?

    1. The + operator was removed by Google and replaced by double speech marks using your example it would now be (this works in the same way that and used to):

      “herons nest” “knowle”

    1. “” , calculations, size/currency conversion follow the same format as above.

      Bing offer a number of search features, but they do not all follow the same format:

      To find a file type you will need to do the following

      ipod nano contains:pdf

  2. Was this done in a hurry? It could have been made so much more helpful just by spending maybe an extra half an hour on it.

    I don’t even understand the ‘Search with a picture’ section (and that’s not only because it’s not written in English).

    1. I saw nothing wrong with the “Search with a picture” section, so I tried it out using a picture of Stormont which I took a while back. It immediately offered me another eight photos of the same building, all taken from viewpoints different from mine.

  3. Google is more interested in making money through advertising than providing secure search services, so I use duckduckgo as my main search engine, and occasionally Bing.
    Your statement that “Google is by far the most used search engine, thanks mainly to its accurate, fast results” may be true, but it’s not the whole truth. To find the accurate links you want, you have to filter your way through pages of targeted advertising junk.
    I’m usually after information, not sales links. Google prioritises sites that want to sell you stuff; if that’s what you want, then OK.

    1. @Ernie Tucker

      It depends what you define as an “ad”. DuckDuckGo returns highlighted “Sponsored Links” at the top of the search results. In my book, that’s another name for an “ad”. But I agree with you that it’s not as bad as Google in that respect.

  4. The Tilda sign (~) is useful for finding synonyms, for instance searching for your surname AND ~genealogy would also find sites that use the term family history instead of genealogy.

  5. I agree about the standards of English in the above instructions, especially the one that refers to an example, supposedly “… below.”, that does not exist. I have already complained several times about the poor standards of written English that seem to be prevalent in Which? reports. It would seem that the editors’ standards of English are at about the same level as the copy they purport to be editing. In fact, the response I received from a lady who, by her description in her signature, would seem to be in charge of the English in those entries, had three glaring errors that she should have corrected before committing herself to the written page!

  6. Is there any way to find the website of a hotel before hundreds of agents who want me to use them for my reservation? At present I use Wikipedia, which is fine for chains and famous hotels, less so for small obscure places.

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