Google is a large search engine which can search very generally or very specifically. While you probably already use Google in your daily life, this guide will explore ways to use Google to meet your research needs.
For more hands-on examples and help, attend one of our Google for Scholars Savvy Researcher Workshops.
If you're looking for a particular company, just enter its name, or as much of its name as you can recall. If you're looking for a particular concept, place, or product, start with its name. If you're looking for a pizza restaurant, just enter pizza and the name of your town or your zip code. Most queries do not require advanced operators or unusual syntax. Simple is good.
A search engine is not a human: it is a program that matches the words you give to pages on the web. Use the words that are most likely to appear on the page. For example, instead of saying
The goal of each word in a search query is to focus it further. Since all words are used, each additional word limits the results. If you limit too much, you can miss a lot of useful information. Alternately, Google might search for some, not all of the terms, giving you results that aren't relevant. There is a main advantage to starting with fewer keywords: if you don't get what you need, the results can give you a good indication of what additional words are needed to refine your results on the next search. For example,
The more unique the word is, the more likely you are to get relevant results. Words that are not very descriptive, like 'article,' 'website,' 'company,' or 'info,' are usually not needed. Keep in mind, however, that even if the word has the correct meaning but it is not the one most people use, it may not match the pages you need. For example,
The information in this guide was originally composed by the University Library at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.