Search tips for students


Becky Grainger

Technical SEO

Without the internet I would have no job, probably a lot less friends and I would have to find some sort of hobby to fill the time. Our thirst for knowledge is ever growing and Google is constantly trying to provide us with the answers. However alongside this it also provides many distractions from your everyday tasks. It is increasingly easy to spend hours watching videos of sneezing pandas or singing goats. With the overload of content how do we find what we are looking for and not get distracted by dogs in fancy dress! As a new recruit at Search Laboratory I’ve been focused on creating a strategy that will help me use the internet to it’s best advantages.

The utmost important for me is to stay focused. Everyone procrastinates at some point- we are only human! But when you are working for a company and on the behalf of clients it is crucial to stay focused.

student search tipsDespite having completed a dissertation and doing realms of research I have now discovered thanks to Search Laboratory’s training, that there is a whole secret language to make Google search your best friend. I wondered how many other students were also missing this basic knowledge, after further research I discovered that fewer than 25% of students could perform a reasonably well executed search. Quite unbelievable considering the amount of research a University degree entails.

Putting a little thought into what you search can change your results dramatically and help to eliminate hours of trawling through useless sites. Googles aim is to always answer the users question, you can use that to make your search more efficient by thinking about the answer and how it would be phrased. then searching for that.

The list of search operators is massive but I have chosen a few that I find the most useful and would definitely have made my life easier at university:

  • Site: only searches the pages of that site.
  • – excludes the term from the search
  • .. shows all the results within a time range for example 2009..2013
  • Filetype:pdf
  • *searches common related words (wildcard)
  • Related: all pages related to the URL
  • Spell:
  • Intitle:
  • Allintitle:
  • Region:
  • “favourite sites”
  • Author:

You can end up with a very long search entry but by telling Google exactly what you want means the results are a lot more refined and tailored to you. Making your time on the internet more productive and if like me you work in SEO, more cost effective.

Yes these search operators are very useful but always carry out a simple search as well; sometimes you can find exactly what you want just by searching a keyword. If you are still tearing your hair out looking for the right site try mixing up the search engines you use, even though Google is the biggest it’s not always the best. Finally no matter what you find on the internet, always evaluate it; is it out of date? biased? commercial or just simply untrue?

Happy surfing!

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