90% of pupils don't know how to 'Google' effectively. How to #PowerSearch

We want Google to be the third part of your brain
— Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google

People use Google every single day. It is amazing tool used globally. It is a very, very clever piece of code, optimised to deliver the end user the most relevant information.

Most people will gladly settle for the first result Google sends back, but should we always trust an algorithm? 

There are many tricks you can use on Google to make your searching more effective. The general issue with this is, most people don't know how (we find that most people aren't even aware of this). In a study, it was discovered that 90% of students failed to narrow their search criteria effectively, when doing so would have turned up more helpful returns.

Just by adding in a phrase or using particular characters / symbols, you are able to refine your search results. It's time to enter the world of the #PowerSearch. 👌


Common Search Operators

Google search operators (or parameters) are characters / terms used on Google to help refine / focus the search

Google search operators (or parameters) are characters / terms used on Google to help refine / focus the search

“Search Term”

  • This operator searches for the exact phrase within speech marks only
  • Handy for when you are not getting enough relevant results back, or if your search term is ambiguous and could be mistaken for something else (Google is a machine after all)
  • e.g. Star Wars I on Google will only search Star Wars (as I is removed from the search term for being a common character / stop word). "Star Wars I" will search for only Star Wars I


– (and +)

  • The  operator removes pages that mention a given term
  • e.g. Manchester -united would return results related to Manchester but omit anything with united in it
  • The + operator will return common words / stop words, which would otherwise be discarded in a search
  • e.g. Lord +of +the Rings would return results for the book / film and not search for just Lord Rings


  • Adding a tilde (~) to a search word tells Google you want it to bring back synonyms (words that mean the same thing) for the term as well
  • e.g. ~learning will also return results for terms search as "study", "education", "schooling", "training" and "instruction"


  • Search only within a given domain
  • Great for finding content within a particular site
  • e.g. site:twitter.com Independent School would return Independent School results from Twitter only



Less Common Google Search Operators


  • Searches only for sites with the given words in the page title
  • e.g. allintitle:prep school Kent will return results that have the words prep, school and Kent in the title


  • same as above but used for single words - offering a bit more flexibility
  • e.g. intitle:prep Kent will return results that have prep in the title and Kent elsewhere

allintext: (and also intext:)

  • Searches only for sites where the given word(s) are in the text of the page

allinurl (and also inurl:)

  • Similar to the last few - fetches results where key words are in the URL
  • Useful if you’ve forgotten the exact URL of a website, but can still remember bits of it! 

allinpostauthor: (and also inpostauthor:)


  • Putting an asterisk (*) in a search allows you to search for an unknown word
  • Basically, it’s really good for finding half remembered song lyrics or names of things.
  • e.g. Let's do the * again should return Let's Do the Timewarp results


  • Brings back results from pages in a given place
  • Can also be used to search for specific types of places within that location
  • e.g. loc:London independent school




  • Search results for the weather in a location - nice and simple!
  • e.g. weather:dubai


  • Adding the word map after a locational search forces Google to produce map-based results
  • e.g. map:high wycombe



    As digital becomes even more intwined with daily lives, and as Google remains the font of all knowledge for the world, it is important we understand how to use it well. This is even more true for school leavers, as they move into job's that do not exist today.

    Try out a few of these tips and see how much of a difference it can make to your Google use...even if it is to see how hot it is today in Dubai. 😉 We'd love to hear your thoughts on this post, you can comment below.