Getting more accurate results from your Google searches

By Sandra Clitter  

Sorry for the tardy post, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks…where do I begin…first, I had an emergency reconstruction of my laptop. Yes, my 5-year-old Lenovo finally bit the dust. While it caused a bit of a scramble, I lost NO DATA because I had it all well backed up – in several places!!! What I did NOT do was to simply set up the new laptop exactly as the old…for a few reasons…the new laptop is Windows 7 (old one was Windows XP), new laptop is Office 2010 (old one was Office 2003), etc. Take the time and do it right!! Next, we had the earthquake (well, I can’t really count that because I never even felt it!). Lastly, we had Hurricane Irene come and visit. All is well, but the first and the last certainly sucked the time out of the space/time continuum :-).

Now, to the post at hand!! I am amazed when I speak with certain people and they seem to be able to mine Google for EXACTLY the information that they want in a VERY short period of time. Oftentimes, I find myself trying multiple search strings, and never getting to the exact information that I want…or I have to dig through oodles and oodles of irrelevant data to find the information that I’m looking for.

There are a number of simple search techniques which may help you get to more accurate results the first time you Google something:

1. Make sure that your query (the words you type into Google) are an accurate representation of what you’re looking for. Sounds obvious, but too often, people just search willy-nilly and never really think about the keywords in their search. Really consider what you’re looking for. Are you looking for restaurants in New York City, or are you looking for a coffee shop New York City Upper West Side? The latter will get you alot closer to finding that ideal greasy spoon!!!

2. If you’re searching for a phrase – that is, you want all the words and in a particular order (e.g. Mother Teresa), then include the search string in double-quotes like this “Mother Teresa”. That will eliminate any articles containing the words ‘mother’ and ‘Teresa’, but not necessarily together. The quotes force the search to look for the words within the double-quotes as if they were one word. ALWAYS include proper names within quotes. You’re much more likely to find the person you’re looking for quickly!

3. If you get a lot of off-topic results, you can EXCLUDE certain results by adding a ‘-‘ (minus) in front of the words to exclude. I’ll give you an example. I have a client whose name is the same as a famous drummer. Let’s use the name ‘Phil Collins’ as the example (my client’s name is NOT ‘Phil Collins’, but I need an example). If you simply Google “Phil Collins” (notice, I use the double-quotes because I want both words to be treated as one word), you’ll get all kinds of results for the drummer in the band Genesis or the solo performer. So, if you want results for A Phil Collins, but not THAT Phil Collins, use a minus sign to exclude results with certain words. If I Google “Phil Collins” -Genesis -drummer -music, I will actually get to see an entry on the first page of results for someone OTHER THAN ‘THAT’ Phil Collins…Phil Collins Bridal appears on the first page of results, as does a baseball player by the name of “Phil Collins” who, apparently, played for my beloved Phillies at one point in time! So, I have excluded ALOT (but not all) of the musical Phil Collins results by making sure that the words ‘Genesis’, ‘drummer’ and ‘music’ do NOT appear on the results page. Sometimes you have to minus alot of words to exclude the ‘noise’ that Google results can return.

4. If you want to search within a certain site (e.g. I use PC World and CNET all the time as reference points), you can search within the site right from Google. Just enter ‘site:sitename’ (do not include the ‘), so that your search might look something like google search tips You include the search string of what you’re looking for, THEN add the ‘site:sitename’ to the end. That will search find any relevant results, but ONLY at

Speaking of PC World, they have some FABULOUS Google Search tips. Run the search above…see what other gems can make your life easier! Or, check out Google’s own description of some search techniques Google Search Help

What’s your favorite search technique?


  1. Posted September 9, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article.
    Thanks for supplying these details.

  2. Gemma Pagliei
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I never knew about placing words in quotes. Thanks, Sandy!


  3. Posted September 1, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Once again, a meaty article filled with helpful tips, Sandy.

    Glad to see you survived Hurricane Irene ok – we did too. No electricity lost and no water in the basement… sounds good to me.

    Searching can be confusing but your tips made things easier. I often forget to use the “exclusion” tip when searching (I keep thinking about it for Google Adwords but not for regular searching).

    Sorry to read about your laptop… and here I thought you were a great student of Dr. Marc and Charlie: WHAT – no MacBook Pro this time?!! lol

    Thanks for your tips!

    Charlie Seymour Jr

    • Posted September 2, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      LOL!!! It was a ‘quick purchase’ changeover, so I didn’t have the time for investigating the MacBook!! I DID think about it (that’s a step forward!).

  4. Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the tips! #’s 3 and 4 are new to me. I’ll try them!!!

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  1. […] you need help with creating accurate Google search strings, check out this post from last August. This entry was written by Sandra Clitter, posted on March 6, 2012 at 10:00 am, […]

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