Google Searching with Phrases


If you “Google” something and get millions of results, you shouldn’t pat yourself on the back.   If the result you know you want is in the top 5, that works fine.  However, if you search with a bunch of words and are confused by your results, here is an important idea to consider.

If you are searching for a particular phrase, use quotation marks around it.  Example: Do you want sites that mention text and highlight, or do you want only sites that use the following wording: “How to highlight text“?  Song lyrics are a good example.  Let’s say you get a song in your head and are dying to know who sang it, and you Google How does it feel to be on your own.  It is best to use quotation marks to keep the words together, and you can put the word lyrics next to it (and outside of the quotation marks) for added precision.

Caution: Use quotation marks if you are sure of the wording.  If you get zero results, you should rethink your wording instead of giving up.  You can search for “How to jump start a car”, but you might not get the results from “How to jump start YOUR car”!  One way to get around this is perform the following Google search: “how to jump start” car.

When searching for a phrase (or a whole sentence), you are essentially getting in the minds of the people who made the pages, trying to use the wording that they used.  This is just one powerful tool to consider when Google searching. 

Written by Toby


Toby is a reference librarian at the East Grand Rapids branch and he also teaches KDL computer classes. In his free time he enjoys reading and playing guitar.

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