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Better Googling

One of the greatest strengths of the world’s most widely used Internet search engine is also one of its greatest weaknesses: comprehensiveness. For example, a search using the keyword poverty results in almost 90,000,000 results, which is far too many for any individual person to sort through. Granted, Google ranks the links that it returns according to a proprietary algorithm so that the most relevant results are listed first. But instead of relying on that algorithm, why not learn specific strategies to narrow down your search results in order to get the results most relevant to what you specifically need?

If you live in South Carolina, say, and you’re only interested in information about poverty made available by state government agencies, you can construct a search as search constructed as poverty site:*.sc.gov and you’ll only get 299 results, which is much more manageable.

The trick is to add site:*.sc.gov to the query where site: specifies which Web site (or sites) you want to search. In this case, I also used the wild card * before sc.gov so that any site run by the state government will be included. This is just one example among many of the strategies you can use for better Googling.

So how does one learn more about these strategies? Fortunately, Google provides explanations of many different features you can take advantage of:

And for the classroom, it’s a good idea to check out “Google Web Search – Classroom Lessons and Resources.” According to Google, “[th]e lessons are short, modular and not specific to any discipline so you can mix and match to what best fits the needs of your classroom. Additionally, all lessons come with a companion set of slides (and some with additional resources) to help you guide your in-class discussions.”

How about you? What are your favorite strategies for “better Googling”? Let’s hear from you in the comments!

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