How to Refine a Google Search: Simple Tricks for Using Search Engines

How many times a day do you search for something on Google? Ever since something called an Internet search engine hit the scene in the 1990s, none of us have wondered a thing. We can enter any query and receive responses instantly; lots of answers.

According to Internet Live Stats, every day Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches. And if you can believe it, 16% to 20% of the questions asked have never been asked before. But due to the endless answer possibilities, it can be frustrating when a Google search doesn’t yield the exact answer your heart desires.

Google recommends narrowing your search by using symbols or words (called operators) in your search to be specific.

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase. So instead of seeing results that include anything that includes the words young or Bill or Gates, you might see results that have “young Bill Gates” in that order.

Use site: to get information about something only from certain types of websites. For example, type standardized test site: .edu to display results only from educational web pages ending in .edu.

Also, instead of using a website’s search function, you can use Google to search for words or phrases on a single site, if you know the URL. So if you want to see all Deseret News articles related to TikTok, use Google and type in TikTok

Use the asterisk as a wildcard. You may be looking for the lyrics to a song, but only remember certain words. Type I’ve *at* from both *now and Google will immediately understand that you are looking for the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now” inserting the missing lyrics of the phrase “I’ve looked at the clouds from both sides now.

Use numbers and ellipses to search for results within a range of numbers. If you want details of Saturday Night Live but only for certain years, search for Saturday Night Live 1995…1997.

One of the search filters I use often is to make sure I’m getting the most up-to-date information. After an initial search, click on Tools under the search bar. From here, you can restrict results to those posted within the last hour, 24 hours, week, month, year, or any custom range you choose.

Everyone seems to have a history of searching for something and getting an inappropriate result. I’ve heard of innocuous research that ended in complete shock (think breast cancer) by children and adults. If you don’t have any filters on your device, make sure SafeSearch is enabled on Google. The company admits it’s not 100% accurate, but it can filter out explicit content. Activate it for your own Google account by going to SafeSearch. If children are logged in under their own account, have accurately specified their age when registering, and are managed with Family Link, then rest assured that SafeSearch is automatically enabled for children under 13.

Google search is also handy for quick information shortcuts instead of going to a bunch of different sites for more details. Type in a tracking number for a package and Google will figure out which company delivers it and give you the latest when it arrives. Type in a show you want to watch and Google will bring up a list of streaming services that offer it and whether you can buy it or need a subscription. Tap a timer and a five minute timer will appear (with a stopwatch option as well) so you can just click start or skip to the time you want. Tap sunset or sunrise and it will tell you when it happens wherever you are. Type in weather and you’ll get weather near you, or add a postcode for conditions elsewhere.

Remember that capitals don’t matter when you search, nor does punctuation.

Yes, Google processes over 40,000 searches per second, but you don’t need 40,000 non-specific answers when you’re looking for something quick. Use these tips and tricks when you go to Google 50 billion times a day for a more effective search and more satisfying results.

Rosemary S. Bishop