Advanced Web Searching Tips

Research Using the Internet

Advanced Web Searching Tips

Most people search the web by going to a search engine and typing in a word or two into the search box. While this is easy and will produce quick results, it can also retrieves hundreds or thousands of hits (especially if you use common words). You can spend a long time going through the various search results and not find what you need.

Using advanced searching techniques, you can focus your search and
greatly reduce the number of web pages you retrieve in your results list.

When you enter your search, most search engines use an automatic "AND" to connect the words you have typed in. The search engine then searches the web for web pages that contain all of the words you have typed in. The words are not necessarily located in close proximity to each other--they merely have to appear somewhere within the document.

If you want to conduct anything than the default "AND" option, you can often use symbols or other commands to alter the default search. For example, in the search engine Google, you can use the following symbols and commands to alter your search:

Symbol / Command
Type of Search
Example
OR
Broadens your search. Good for synonyms.
Hispanics OR Latinos
" "
Looks for a specific phrase or group of words.
"Benjamin Franklin"
-
Excludes a word or phrase.
pets - dogs
+
Includes common words excluded by the search engine
World War +I

If you aren't comfortable typing in these symbols into the search box, most search engines also have an "Advanced Search" screen which will add the correct symbols for you. The advanced search screen may also allow you to set various limits to your search. For example, Google's advanced search allows you to limit by language, format, or by domain.