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Using Google efficiently

Using Google is very straightforward and intuitive – just load google.co.uk, or your own local version of Google. Enter your search keywords into the search box, and Google will display relevant (more or less) results.

Power users of Google may wish to have some more control over which results are returned. This is done by entering operators as well as search keywords. We'll look at some of the main ones here.

The "AND" operator – Googles normal behavior

If you wished to search for cars that are red, you would usually enter the search phrase red cars. Google will return results which contain both keywords together on the same page.
This is called a Boolean AND search. Google is looking for pages which contain both words red AND the word cars. This is its standard behaviour. Google doesnt just find pages with both words included, on wildly different parts of the page - Google uses the proximity (closeness) of the words to each other.. Its more likely to return pages which have the word red and car close to each other. (proximity matching).

The "OR" operator

If you wished to see search results for either one keyword or another – for example you wanted to find either "cars" or "motorcycles" you could enter the search cars OR motorcycles.

This overrides Googles normal behaviour.

The "-" operator

The minus sign is very useful – for instance, if you wanted to find a list of cars, but didn’t want to return any pages relating to Volkswagen.
You could search for cars -volkswagen.

Note the space before the minus sign. The minus sign comes just before the word you want to exclude.

"" operator - the phrase search

Enclosing your query in speech marks makes Google search for an exact phrase.
Googles usual AND search behaviour searches for pages which include both (or more) keywords.
If you enclose your query in speech marks, google will only return results which contain the exact phrase you entered.

For example: if you searched for kenny south park, the results may not include the exact phrase Kenny south park. Remember, google by default uses the Boolean AND and proximity matching.
Most results will instead contain the 3 words Kenny, south and park. If you want to find only pages containing your exact phrase, enclose it in speech marks.

Be careful using this. Sometimes you can exclude results. Google writes:
By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Alexander Bell" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.
Source: Google support page.

Using the "" operator to see if your content has been stolen

If you have a website and want to check if someone else has stolen your content, do a phrase search for a block of text off your website.

If we do a phrase search for some text on our website homepage, you'll see its being used on other websites: stealing text is bad, mkay?

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