Organize an Information Search Party

(adapted from Daniel M. Russell's Google Teacher Academy Presentations on Search)

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Simple Search Strategy - "Think Like a Web Page"

  1. What is it I’m looking for?
    (Think about common keywords. Think about synonyms, or "other ways to say" things. Not sure? Use a gateway tool such as Wikipedia to gain background knowledge.)
  2. How would someone else talk or write about it?
    (What words would they use? How would "someone who knows" describe it? Try using Wonderwheel or Related Search suggestions to help you devise search terms or improve focus)
  3. Which of those terms would be most common?
    (What would be most likely to appear on a page or site about this topic?)
  4. Which of those terms would be very specialized to this topic?
    (What specifics differentiate this topic from similar or related items?)
  5. What kind of resource am I looking for?
    (Add a context to your keywords: Do I want a single web page, a definition, a collection, an image, a tutorial, a video.... or … ?)

Additional Search Strategies

  • Use Advanced Search Operators to narrow and refine your search. Combine operators and keep refining to improve your results.
  • Try an image search when normal means fail, you might find something that will be useful or spark your interest in a different way. (Great way to find out the meaning of foreign words).
  • Word order matters—when it’s not working one way, try another. Use terms and phrases from the resources you do find in your initial searches (or begin with a gateway site such as Wikipedia).
  • When searching for common phrases, don't leave out the "stop" words (the most extreme example being [to be or not to be, that is the question] where question is the only "substance" word.
  • Only use quotations when you need them (e.g. to find a specific sequence of words, such as a name, quote, location or text snippet).
  • Sometimes you need to Go Beyond Google.