Mastering the Art of Internet Searching.

1From cricket scores to movies timings, from spotting a location to navigating to it, from finding a house to finding a person; today we use internet for practically everything. Internet is our savior in all situations as we all are information seekers all the time.

But as much handy the World Wide Web is, most of us still do not know how to make the best of it. Knowing the correct ways of tapping the best possible potential of internet is an art. It is important to learn this art if you want to save further time and find exactly what you are looking for. Data on the internet is increasing manifold every year and access to information is more important than ever. It is all out there and yet most of the time, we don’t find it. This is because although we are looking through the right medium, we are not able to look at the right source of information.

Search engines have a unique way of working. For them relevance is more important than finding a page with the right key words. They have been developed over the years to better match results with our queries. Search engines also assume that more popular the site or page, the more useful it will be for the user. This assumption seems to have fairly matched the end user satisfaction. So, given all this, what are the things that we could take care of from our end to fulfill our means? Let us start by looking at the most effective and reliable search engine of today – Google.

Google offers multiple tools, operators and filters to refine your search. We will look at some of those tools and other tips and tricks to make your search easier, time saving and yielding more precise and accurate results.


  • The first step to any search is the keywords. Normally, Google returns the result giving priority to the pages containing most of your keywords, irrespective of the order. If you want to improve your search results, it is advisable to use 5 to 7 keywords as then it is easier for Google to understand what you are looking for. Please note that Google tends to ignore frequently used key words like a, an, the, I, this, that etc.
  • Use of within-quotes (“ ”): to get the exact phrase or the order of keywords in your search results, you can put your search query within quotes. By doing so Google will look for sites with the exact phrasing. For example, if you want to look for the growth rate of the IT enabled services industry, you might use – “IT enabled services” “industry” “growth rate”, to yield more specific and precise search results.
  • Use of asterisks (*): If you are not sure about what keywords to use, or do not know what to look for, you can use * symbol in combination with your keywords. This will make Google find all possible combinations of pages. For example, * internship2
  • If you want to exclude some words from your search, you can use the minus sign. Google will exclude all the pages from your search result that contain the specific words, except where the minus sign is used as a hyphen.
  • Use for comparing data
  • You can use the ‘OR’ operator to get choice in your search results. Google will display the sites with either of the two keywords, instead of the sites containing both the words. For example:

3Other important points to consider are:

  • Use precise keywords to describe what your are searching
  • Do not use questions to search on Google. For example instead of using ‘in which year Pfizer acquired Wyeth?’ use ‘Pfizer acquired Wyeth in’
  • Use Google shortcuts to save time.

Google Advance Search

Since you cannot always memorize the different search operators, Google offers us the advance search options. You can access more accurate information by using these basic tools:

  • Site/Domain search: If you want to search on a specific site then you can use your keywords along with the name of the website separated by a double colon. Google will return results from the same website. You can also use this trick for searching a specific domain. For example, Disaster management : .org4
  • You can find pages that link to a certain page. For example-
  • Search specific file type by using, Product development:PDF
  • Access a cached version of a website by using
  • Find related pages to the website you already know, related:IPL
  • Use allintitle: to view a page with a title containing your desired keyword

Please note that while using operators, do not use any space between keywords and punctuation to refine your search.

5Additionally Google gives us the option to filter our search by language, region, time, etc.6

Google Shortcuts

  • Dictionary: Find meaning of a word without having to access the whole dictionary. For example, use define:ambient to get the meaning of the word ambient7
  • Calculator: directly use Google’s in built calculator by simply entering the calculation you would like into the search box
  • World clocks, weather forecast
  • Public data or demographics
  • Fill in the blank – Google reduces our efforts by filling in the information that we seek by providing initial keywords followed by asterisks sign (*).
  • Unit conversion and currency calculators
  • Mortgage rates
  • package tracking

Now after having known almost all the search modifiers offered by Google, we can use these options in combination to further clean out the unwanted results. For example, if you are looking for the managing director of a company you can use: “Unilever India” “Managing director”

You can also apply these search modifiers to search for images, news, videos – which are again a form of filtering our search results.

Google’s search technology has reached new heights since it was launched years ago. Most of us do not even know how search works anymore. We just assume to get the results we want. However remembering these simple search modifiers discussed in the article and learning to use them indicatively, can make you search more proficiently.

Here are some links that you can refer to for further gaining clarity on Google’s advance search:

Contributed By : Isha Jajodia (IBS Gurgaon, Class of 2010).

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