Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023 Views: 885

Yes, we do! As with many search engines, you can improve your Google search experience with well-chosen keywords and a few search operators. Here are a few tips and examples:


Choose good keywords. Think about what you are looking for, and write down a list of keywords that relate to or describe your topic, as well as synonyms or alternate words.

For example:

If your research question is:

Are video games addicting for teenagers?

Some keywords may be as follows:

Video games, computer games, internet, technology, addiction, internet addiction, dependence, compulsion, teenagers, teens, adolescents

For additional information on choosing keywords, see Using Keywords on our Getting Started with Research guide.

Boolean operators

Use Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT. The AND tells the search engine to only bring back results that use both search terms. The OR tells the search engine to bring back results that have either search term. The NOT will exclude the word or phrase that follows it.

For example:

  • Internet AND addiction will find results using both words internet and addiction
  • Internet OR technology will find results that use either the word internet or the word technology
  • Video games NOT addiction will find results that include the term video games but not the word addiction

For additional information on using Boolean operators, visit the FAQ What is boolean searching and how can I use it?.

Search operators

Include symbols as operators. Search operators are symbols and words you can add to your search query to give the search engine additional instructions about what you do or do not want to see in your results. Here are some useful operators:

  • To search for a phrase, put it in quotation marks.
  • To search for synonyms, use a ~ before the word or phrase.
  • To exclude unwanted words, you can use a – before the word, similar to the NOT operator.
  • To find variations of a word, use an * as a wildcard.

For example:

  • “video games” will find results that include the complete phrase, not just the individual words.
  • “video games” AND ~addiction will find results that include the phrase “video games” as well as the word addiction or synonyms for that word.
  • “video games” AND adolescen* will find results that include the phrase “video games” as well as words starting with adolescen, such as adolescent, adolescents, adolescence, etc.

Limit your results

Google gives you a variety of options to limit your results. Here are a few:

  • Use filetype: to find only certain types of files.
  • Use insite: to find results only on a specific website.
  • Use site: to find results only on a specific domain.

For example:

  • “video games” filetype:pdf will bring back only pdf documents that contain the phrase “video games”
  • “video games” will only bring back results from the New York Times website that contain the phrase “video games”
  • “video games” will only bring back results from educational institutions that contain the phrase “video games”

For more information on searching Google effectively, check out our Google Like a Librarian guide.

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