Let’s face it – the amount of information offered by Google is simply overwhelming. Go to Google and type in a random word like “toolbox” and it comes back with roughly 89 million results. That is pretty much useless.
When using Google, you have to be specific about what you are looking for. Most people just type in a word or a phrase and hope their desired result is in the first page or two, but that is not efficient. We want to use our computers effectively, right? Here’s how.
The way you have to look at it is to imagine the perfect website for the information you want. If you are doing some research on the history of radio broadcasting in Canada, what words would appear on that page? Probably “radio”, “broadcasting”, and “Canada”. So most people would go to Google and do this search:
radio broadcasting Canada
That results in 1,170,000 pages. However, the pages in that list are pages that contain either the word “radio”, or the word “broadcasting”, or the word “Canada”. We can get much more specific with this search:
+radio +broadcasting +Canada
That tells Google to only bring up the pages that have all three of those words, and that narrows our results down to about 727,000 pages. Better, but still not ideal. Some of the pages that come up talk about both radio and television broadcasting, and we are not interested in television. So we can eliminate the television results by doing this search:
+radio +broadcasting +Canada -television
That means Google can only show pages that have those first three words, and any pages that have the word “television” will NOT show up in the results. Now we’re down to 418,000 results pages. But still too many.
How about this – let’s search on an exact phrase. Maybe the internet is so wonderful, and Google is so good, that there is a website out there that has exactly what we need! So we search on this:
“history of radio broadcasting in Canada”
That means Google can only bring up web pages that have that exact phrase (because of the quotation marks). Guess what – there is one single page in the search results. Bingo!
So don’t be afraid to experiment with the plus sign, the minus sign, and the quotation marks. They can change Google from being uselessly overwhelming to precisely helpful!