How To Search on Google

How to Search on Google

A question asked by millions of Google users each month is How to search on Google

How to search on Google

After recently receiving a solicitation from Google inviting us to participate in the Power Searching with Google course and subsequently completing it, like most other Internet marketers, we wanted to share the good fortune as the information is both interesting and useful. Taking this class has made us much more efficient Google searchers and, I dare say, better Internet marketers.


Who Can Benefit from Power Searching with Goolge?


Anyone who wants to learn how to search on Google. Google users (non-Internet-marketing types) should click here to get to the learning. Internet marketers, please read on.


As Internet marketers who rely on search engines, especially Google, to drive targeted traffic to our website and client websites, we felt that although we considered ourselves savvy Google searchers, why not take the course and sharpen our search skills and perspective to be able to better serve our clients? Besides, performing hundreds of informational Google searches ourselves each week, a small tweak in our skills could have a BIG impact in productivity.


Why Search is so Important to Internet Marketers


Search is super important to Internet marketing. Social media often gets the spotlight because it is shiny, sexy and alluring. But get this.  A new Forrester report titled “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers In 2012” shows that fewer than 1% of transactions could be traced back to social links. That should raise a few eyebrows!


To further emphasize the important role of search in Internet marketing, according to an August report from Monetate, the average order value (AOV) of website traffic from search in Q2 2012 was $90.40, more than 40% higher than traffic from social networks ($64.19).


Search Vs. Social Media in Your Internet Marketing Strategy


For those keeping score, search takes quantity and quality over social media. That is not to say that social media is not important, as clearly social networks and Google+, in particular, are influencing the search results like never before. So if you are thinking should we use social or search in our Internet marketing strategy? The answer is a resounding YES and your wheelhouse should have both.


Understanding how search works is fundamental to understanding how to develop the kind of information that people are looking for and then positioning it in a way that makes it easy to find that information through Google Search. Even Google Power Searchers will learn something from this course, especially if the learner engages in the exercises recommended by Google through-out the curriculum. They take some time to work through, but are fun for those that enjoy treasure hunts.


Though the class is no longer being offered for certificate,

Power Searching with Google certificate 600x

the Power Search with Google course materials are available online and with links to training materials, training videos and videos of the 3 scheduled Power Search with Google hangouts with Google search experts are all included here. Pretty near all the information that one could need to learn how to search on Google like a pro is included in this mega post.


The goal of consolidating and providing this information here is so that more searchers can discover the power of Google Search while gaining perspective and learn how to get more value from Google Search using features that many readers will be introduced for for the first time during this class.


Information providers will gain insights into how Google is being used by their audience every day, sometimes in new an innovative ways that might not be known such as Google’s powerful search by image.


Publishers should be aware of how easily images can be tracked by Google, even in situations where images are not credited appropriately. Powerful stuff!


Now let the learning begin.


Class 1: How Google Works

(launched Monday, September 24)


See Introduction video featuring Dan Russell, Senior Research Scientist at Google, where he introduces the free online course, positioned by Dan as teaching information seekers how to become a Google Search Power User. Dan introduces the course components and reviews the learning objectives.

Google Search, aside from having the largest, English language index of the web in the world, makes it easy for most any Google Search user, from beginner to advanced, to find information.

Lesson 1-1 Video – Training Introduction Video


In this video (Running Time: 4:30), Daniel M. Russell, Senior Research Scientist, Google, introduces the Power Searching with Google course, referring to it as “a short course in being a great internet searcher.”


(Additional resources: Text versionDownload Lesson 1.1 slides, Lesson 1-1 Activity)


This free online, community-based Power Searching with Google course showcases search techniques and how to use them to solve real, everyday problems.

It also teaches some of the powerful advanced tools we provide to help you find just the right information when the stakes are high.


Lesson 1 – 2 – Filtering on your Search Results


In the following video, Dan uses and example is of filtering image results by color, then furter filtering by implied context within image search. Searches are performed for fossils and another example for tesla.


Filtering by similar results shows images that are related images with similar context. Query modification is demonstrated by searching for tesla coil then filter on implied context by selecting black and white to find as a mechanism to locate diagrams of the telsa coil as this is an entity that can be physically constructed.


(Additional resourcesText versionDownload Lesson 1.2 slidesLesson 1-2 Activity)


Class participants are invited to engage peers in the Power Searching with Google forum to ask questions about topics related to the course or to share Google Search best practices with other group members.


Power Searching with Google, Class 1 Lesson 3: How Search Works

In this video (Running time: 3:23), Matt Cutts of Google explains the basics of how Google Search works. Matt provides an overview of how Google crawls the web to discover web pages, how it examines and classifies the addresses of those web pages, and how Google then builds an index of web pages. Matt draws the distinctions between organic/natural and paid search results and how search results are returned to the user. 


(Additional resourcesText versionDownload Lesson 1.3 slides, Lesson 1-3 Activity)


Lesson 1-4 The Art of Keyword Choice


In this video (Running time: 6:10), Dan uses the example of trying answer a question “what was the name of that old town on San Francisco Bay?” Three example queries are given comparing and contrasting the queries and corresponding results, with the third keyword choice providing exactly the information sought by Dan.


(Additional resourcesText versionDownload Lesson 1.4 slidesLesson 1-4 Activity)


Lesson 1-5 Word Order Matters

In this video (Running Time: 8:24), Dan covers the following five points:

  1. Every word matters
  2. Word order matters
  3. Capitalization does not matter
  4. Punctuation often does not matter
  5. Spelling matters, but you have help

Dan gives many examples of how adding a word or changing the order will change the search results. Examples include who, a whothe who and many others.


For word order, Dan use the examples [blue sky] and [sky blue] illustrating the impact that word order has on the search results.


To emphasize the point that capitalization has no impact on the Google search results, Dan uses the following example: [red Delicious] and [rEd dElIcIoUs] to show identical search results are returned in both cases.


Dan indicates that Google ignores punctuation and special symbols like the section symbol (§), paragraph symbol (¶), the registered trademark symbol (®), and several other special characters in your query. As a result, a query like this [© 2010] only searches for [2010].


Though spelling matters, Google has the did you mean feature to help users who don’t know the exact spelling find what they are looking for. Dan uses the example for a Britney Spears search Britttney Spears, Google corrects the error automatically.


(Additional resources: Text versionLesson 1.5 slidesLesson 1-5 Activity)


Lesson 1-6 Finding Text on a Web Page

(Additional resourcesText versionLesson 1-6 SlidesLesson 1-6 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 7:26), Dan covers how to find text on a web page by using ctr-f on a PC or Command f on Mac. .

Class 2 – Interpreting Results

(launched Monday, September 26)

Class 2 Lesson 1 – When Search Results Suggest Something New

Utilize information in Knowledge Graph panels, Instant results, Suggestions, and Related Searches when they appear.

(Additional resources Text versionLesson 2-1 SlidesLesson 2-1 Activity)


In this video (Running time: 7:14), Dan discuss some of the features of Google search designed to help the search user with additional information to assist them in finding precisely the information desired.


Google Search features covered in this video include:

  1. Knowlege Graph (Summary) Panel provided on the right hand side
  2. Suggestions-as-you-type
  3. Search-as-you-type (also referred to as “instant search”)
  4. Releated searches

These Google Search features are designed to help you explore the space of ideas around the concept that you are trying to searching for, all designed to help the user get to the information they are after as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Class 2 Lesson 2 – Thinking more deeply about your search

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 2-2 SlidesLesson 2-2 Activity)


In this video (Running time: 3:28), Dan teaches viewers to think deeper about their search. The goal of this lesson is to teach searchers to recognize when search results are offering information that suggests a better/additional search. Based on that information, the searcher can use “define” to identify the meaning of words. Dan demonstrates the Google dictionary mode to define words that do not appear in traditional dictionaries using “pwned” as an example.

Class 2 Lesson 3 – Understand options for different media

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 2-3 SlidesLesson 2-3 Activity)

In this video (Running time: 3:28) Dan demonstrates that different types of media can be useful for queries, often times in unexpected ways. The example in the video is a search for resume that returns blended search results including images of resumes. By clicking on the resumes, the searcher is taken to image search. Dan also covers how other media types such as video, news and even shopping can be relevant, depending on the searchers intent. 

Class 2 Lesson 4 – Reading the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 2-4 SlidesLesson 2-4 Activity)

Some of the aspects of reading the SERPs that Dan demonstrates in this video (Running Time: 7:22) include:

  • Use the page preview tool to preview results pages.
  • Identify the parts of a search engine result: title, web address, and snippet/abstract.
  • Use links within the search engine results to go directly to a sub-page of the site.
  • Use the site: operator to restrict results to a domain, website, or directory.
  • Interpret a search engine results page.

Class 2 Lesson 5 – 2.5 Different kinds of content

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 2-5 SlidesLesson 2-5 Activity)

The following video (Running Time: 6:38) includes information on:

  1. Opening the left-hand panel media options
  2. Exploring the types of media in the left-hand panel
  3. Accessing tools through the menu at the top of the page
  4. Using [Google] to find tools like Google Patents, Google 3D Models,
  5. Learning about Google Scholar which includes Legal Documents (Google US, English)

Hangout 1 with Search Experts

(Running Time: 43:46, Originally aired on Thursday, Septermber 27, 10:00-10:45 am PT)

Class 3 – Advanced Techniques

(Launched Friday, September 28)

Class 3 Lesson 1 – Web organization

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 3-1 SlidesLesson 3-1 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 7:06), Dan covers the following topics:

  • Describe how operators filter results.
  • Use the site: operator at the top-level domain and website levels.
  • Use a word you expect to appear on the target page to refine results.
  • Use the site: operator within images and news results.

Class 3 Lesson 2 – filetypes

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 3-2 Slides, Lesson 3-2 Activity)

In this videe (Running Time: 4:42), Dan covers:

  • Use the filetype: operator to find and download different kinds of documents including .csv, .dat, .pdf, .kml (used in Google Earth)
  • Combine operators to refine searches [site:edu filetype:pdf]

Key Takeaway: the filetype operator works a lot like the site operator by scoping the search results to a particular type of file and when used in conjunction with the site operator, allows searchers to focus/filter/narrow search results to type of file located on a particular site. Once you understand the capabilities of these operators, your ability to find relevant content with Google efficiently and effectively is greatly enhanced.

Class 3 Lesson 3 – removing invasive results

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 3-3 SlidesLesson 3-3 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 3:27), Dan covers the MINUS sign “-” and how it allows searchers to focus their query results on just the resources that they are interested in by excluding aspects of the search results that are not relevant. Dan provides some tips for using the minus sign correctly with some examples involving telsa coil – circuits and salsa -tomatoes. The MINUS sign provides a way to exclude results. Multiple MINUS signs can be used together in the same query such as salsa -dancing -tomatoes.

Class 3 Lesson 4 – OR and quotes

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 3-4 SlidesLesson 3-4 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 5:04), Dan covers the following uses of the powerful OR operator.

  1. Using quotes to keep words in a phrase
  2. Using OR to look for one word or another
  3. Combining quotes and OR in a query
  4. Tips for using OR correctly

Key Takeaway: The key idea to remember, is that OR allows you take two terms or two phrases and search and search for both of them together, most often used when you are looking for synonyms for the same idea. The idea of the double quote, is it allows you to search for words/terms/phrases in a particular sequence. This is a powerful combination if you want to look for one short phrase and another phrase.


Class 3 Lesson 5 – intext: and Advanced Search

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 3-5 SlidesLesson 3-5 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 5:01), Dan covers:

  •  Use the intext: operator to ensure the word you want is actually on the page you find.
  • Use the Advanced Search user interface when appropriate.

Class 4 – Finding Facts Faster

Class 4 Lesson 1 – Searching-by-image

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 4-1 SlidesLesson 4-1 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 4:59), Dan shows viewers how to use Google Image to search-by-image to determine the content and context of an image if you have very little information about an image such as its origin or subject. In the video, Dan gives several examples including identifying information on images of a lobster, a landscape and a tool found in his basement.


Class 4 Lesson 2 – Search features

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 4-2 SlidesLesson 4-2 Activity) 


In this video (Running Time: 5:34), Dan shows us find facts quickly with shortcuts (advanced search features) including:

  1. Movies for a specific location
  2. Exposing a factual answer
  3. Weather for a specific location, by city name or zip code
  4. Flight information, by fight number
  5. Time by location (e.g. Time Sydney, AU)
  6. Medical and drug searches to find drug information, generic equivalents and more.


A comprehensive Google Advanced Search Features master list shows all of the different features that can be used to trigger advance searches.


Class 4 Lesson 3 – Conversions and Calculator

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 4-3 SlidesLesson 4-3 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 8:00), Dan shows Google searchers how too convert from units to units, both measurement and monetary, by using the pattern [number units in units]. Here are some conversion examples that Dan provides in the video To convert from UNIT to UNIT:

Converting the boiling point of water [212f in c] and get the conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

Other conversion examples provided by Dan include:

[400 yards in miles]
[500 yards in meters]
[20 tablespoons in cups]
[280 Euros in US dollars]
[20000 leagues in miles]
[one inch in angstrom]

Google can also perform simple and complex calculation from the search box. Some examples include:

[one plus two]
[12% of 124]

Caution: It won’t tell you when your units are incompatible!

[ 23 cm in ml ]

Class 4 Lesson 4 – Left hand panel and Date range limiting

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 4-4 SlidesLesson 4-4 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 5:44), Dan – Limit results to information published from a specific time period. The topcis covered in this lesson include:

  1. Tools in the Left-hand panel
  2. Time filtering

Dan uses the custom date period, using the synonyms CA or California while further scoping the search results with the intext operator to get to the precise set of results on a particular topic published, within a given time period, containing a specific piece of text.

Class 4 Lesson 5 – Translation and search

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 4-5 SlidesLesson 4-5 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 5:54), Dan covers the following topics:

  • Translate words, sentences, and pages.
  • Search pages in foreign languages using English.

Power Searching with Google – Hangout 2

(aired on October 2nd, 2012 4:00 – 4:45 pm PT)


Class 5 – Checking Your Facts

Class 5 Lesson 1 – Credibility

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 5-1 SlidesLesson 5-1 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 8:00), Dan discusses how to determine if the information discovered on Google is credible Credibility- Verify the credibility of information you find.

  • Understand ranking and that it is not the same as credibility
  • Choose appropriate terms for your search query
  • Verify information against that found on sites that you know to be credible

Key Takeaway: There are a number of different mechanisms within Google that you can use to determine the credibility of a resource.

Class 5 Lesson 2 – Variant data

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 5-2 SlidesLesson 5-2 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 4:34) Dan discusses what is and how to avoid confirmation bias when conducting searches.

Class 5 Lesson 3 – Using Books to verify a quote

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 5-3 SlidesLesson 5-3 Activity) 

In this video, (Running Time: 4:21), Dan researches the quote “Elementary my Dear Watson” by using the book filter, then preview mode to search for instances of this quote in the text.


Class 5 Lesson 4 – Using WHOIS and looking for other site information

(Additional resources Text VersionLesson 5-4 SlidesLesson 5-4 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 2:59) Dan introduces the whois database, what information it contains and how to search for information about a website at the domain level.

Class 5 Lesson 5 – Occasional misconceptions

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 5-5 SlidesLesson 5-5 Activity)

In this video (Running Time: 3:30), Dan addresses some common misconceptions including:

  1. Pay for play in the Google organic search results
  2. Use of the Google logo on a site for friend connect or site search is not an endorsement of that site or its content by Google
  3. Sites displaying Google Ads (Adsense) are not vetted by Google
  4. Rank order does not equate to site authoratativeness

Power Searching with Google – Hangout 3

(aired on October 4th, 2012 10:00 – 10:45 am PT)

Class 6 – Putting it All Together

Class 6 Lesson 1 – Combining Methods

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 6-1 SlidesLesson 6-1 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 3:08), Dan gives an example using:

  • filetype: operator
  • OR operator
  • site: operator

Class 6 Lesson 2 – Think Broadly

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 6-2 SlidesLesson 6-2 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 5:28), Dan covers how a Google searcher can combine methods/approaches:

  • Color filtering in images; use site:in image search, OR in News, etc.
  • Using tools and media to answer different types of questions
  • Using terms to focus in on an area of interest:
    • [Google language translate]
    • [planetary gear diagram]

Class 6 Lesson 3 – Summary

 (Additional resources Text VersionLesson 6-3 SlidesLesson 6-3 Activity) 

In this video (Running Time: 2:10)), Dan summarizes the training program and recommended next steps to reinforce the learning and to stay on top of new Google Search features that can be of value by subscribing to the Official Google Blog.


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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