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Google searching--tips and tricks: Home

This guide provides tips, tricks, and other information to help you use Google search more effectively at Curtis and beyond.

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What is Google search?

You likely use basic Google searches often in your everyday life (and maybe in your classes), but you may not be familiar with how Google search works or what the results mean.

  •  Did you know companies pay to show up at the top of your search?


  •  Did you know Search Engine Optimization can help websites move up in the a results list?
    • Google even has a guide!


  • Or a webmaster can pay a digital marketing company to do the work

  • Did you know you can find journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature through Google Scholar?
    • BUT you might only get the abstract because Google Scholar does not offer full-text access to everything.


Facts about Google searches

  • Google uses automatic word stemming.
    • Google does not allow wildcards to be used for variable ends of words (no * at the end of a word, for instance)
    • Instead, Google searches for all possible word variations.
      • Diet returns diets dieting dietary
  • Searches are not case sensitive. 
    • Keywords may be entered in lower or upper case or a combination of both
    • Trumpet, schumann, Mozart sonatas
  • Google ignores most punctuation and symbols. Exceptions:
    • Dollar sign when used to indicate price.
      • canon $400 gives different results than canon 400.
    • Underscore or hyphen when used to connect words.
      • brother-in-law
      • end_of_file
    • Symbols when used to convey meaning such as a programming language (C++), musical terms (G#), etc.
  • Google search filters out stop words.
    • These are very common words in English: the, a, an, in
    • So "natural language" searches ("Who is on the top of Philadelphia City Hall?") are not as accurate (for now)

More tips

Here are some more resources to enhance your Google searching.