The Art of Googling – 8 ways to your best results ever

March 09, 2022

You get the point. The numbers are staggering!


To provide perspective on why you need help to reach the best sources of information, we are going to use some numbers:

  • Sites on the WWW: 18 billion, according to Netcraft’s web-server survey of December 2021.
  • New sites created per day: 252,000.
  • Google searches: over 99,000 every second. This makes over 8.5 billion searches a day.
  • Google search index: Google’s index contains between 30 and 50 billion webpages.

Getting Google to search its index and display results in its SERPs (search engine results pages) to provide the most pertinent answers to your question is the trick. We’re going to teach you the art of Googling.

The Art of Googling

Before we get into it. Yes, Googling is a word. It’s the present participle of the verb Google and included in the Oxford English Dictionary since 15 June 2006.

There are simple ways to get Google to serve up the content you want. You just need to know how. Using the methods below will refine your search results and save you time. The best part, it’s easy and even better, you can always refer to this blog if you forget. Let’s get going.

1. Exact phrase search

When searching for an exact phrase, use quotation marks before and after the phrase, e.g.

  • Shakespeare’s famous quote: “To be, or not to be, that is the question”
  • The infamous Tupac Shakur: “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”

2. Results from a specific site or domain

This is useful if you want Google to search inside a specific site and not in its entire database. A good example would be Wikipedia or Wall Street Journal. Here are some examples:

  • Nelson Mandela or Nelson Mandela
  • Nelson Mandela or Nelson Mandela

3. Let Google fill in the missing word

How many times do people quote a phrase during conversation or a history and science lecture and our answer is “I’ll Google it later”? It’s a daily occurrence for many of us. Then, days later, we sit down open Google and we can only remember part of what they told us. Google can help. For a missing word/s in the phrase, use an asterisk *. This is how:

  • A famous quote from Nelson Mandela: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Let’s say we forget the words ‘successes’ and ‘down’. Google: Do not judge me by my * judge me by how many times I fell * and got back up again.
  • Let’s say you’re a pre-med student and your last lecture was on NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If you remembered the acronym NSAIDs and you can’t remember the word ‘Steroidal’ you have two search term choices:
    • NSAIDs
    • non * anti-inflammatory drugs

4. Specific file types

If you are looking for a document saved as a specific file type like PDF or PPT (PowerPoint), here’s how to search for it:

  • Filetype:pdf clinical anatomy of the head
  • Bridge design Filetype:ppt

NB: You can place the subject before or after the file type.

5. Find related websites

Let’s say you want to find similar sites to the ones you normally use. It’s easy. Let’s presume you use to get medical perspectives or for engineering resources. This is how you search:

  • Put the word ‘related’ in front of the website, e.g.

6. Target your search within a specific title, URL or website text

  • Search for specific keywords on a webpage or article title, place ‘allintitle:’ and then the keywords, e.g.
    • allintitle: “neck pain symptoms causes”
  • Search for specific keywords within the page copy, use ‘allintext:’ before the keywords.
    • allintext: “sport injuries knee ankle”

7. Search like a website reads

Google’s algorithm provides the most relevant answers to your questions in the quickest time. When you enter a search term, Google’s algorithm matches the keywords in your search with the copy on website pages, blogs and articles.

Website copy doesn’t mimic the way humans talk to each other. The first reason is people are lazy, we don’t like to read. So, the format for website copy (text on web pages or in blogs) is to get the message across simply and quickly. Second, most websites are businesses or organisations and the copy is normally fairly formal.

Therefore, when Googling the more to the point and formal your search terms are, the better the results will be. Use the words most pertinent to the answer you want, don’t ‘pad’ the search with unnecessary words such as ‘my’, ‘as’ and ‘to’. Here are some examples:

  • Replace “What can I do to relieve my migraine” with “Migraine relief”.
  • Replace “Can I use the words “and” or “but” at the beginning of a sentence with “Can a sentence begin with “and” or “but”.

8. Google, especially for students and academics

We would be careless if we didn’t mention these two Google search options:

  • Google Scholar best explained by Wikipedia: “Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines.”
  • Google Books – Advanced Book Search best explained again by Wikipedia: Google Books is a service form that “searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and stored in its digital database. Books are provided either by publishers and/or authors through the Google Books Partner Program, or by Google’s library partners.”

Enough of the serious stuff

Let’s have some fun. You can make Google do some really cool stuff you probably didn’t know about.

  • Google can do a barrel roll. Type in: “do a barrel role”
  • Google helps you find Chuck Norris. Type in “find chuck norris” and click “I’m feeling lucky” and see what happens.
  • Go back in time and see what Google looked like in 1998: Type in: “Google in 1998”.
  • No coins, need to flip for something? Type in: “flip a coin”.

That’s all folks, for now

Thank you for reading this post. How lucky you are to have a team at The Fields where we provide excellent off-campus accommodation in Pretoria. Just like Google, we provide multiple solutions to your accommodation needs and actually care about you and all students and that’s why we started this blog. Check out ourother posts: there are tons of helpful articles that will make your university life better. Like to see a blog on a particular subject email us. It’s you that keeps us motivated and going strong, see you soon.

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