Do you really know how to
When you type something Google, you get literally MILLIONS of hits. That means MILLIONS of sites that you can't possibly review to find the BEST information. Most of us never even get off of the first page or two of results. However, if you know how to use Google effectively, you really shouldn't need to go too far off of the first page or two. These tips will help you make Google work FOR you to find more specific, relevant information when doing any type of school related research, and even for your personal web browsing.

First of all, it helps to know how Google actually decides what results to bring you. This short video from the experts themselves should clear that up for you.

Second, there are two important things to avoid when researching

  1. Avoid being too general with your search terms

    • For example, let's say your research topic is Lady Gaga's impact on society (not the most academic topic, but it will work well for an example!) Most of you would start your search by typing in: Lady Gaga. This brings up almost 300 million hits. The problem is, most of what you will see on the first page or two of results is biographies, information about her videos, concerts, a Wikipedia page, etc. You will have to sort through tons of IRRELEVANT information to find a small nugget that is RELEVANT to your research (i.e. facts about her social impact).
    • See below for tips about better search queries
  2. Avoid using questions as search terms.

    • You know you've done it...copied a teacher's research question and pasted it right into Google hoping the answer would magically appear! What's wrong with this? To continue with the example above, you might type in: How has Lady Gaga impacted society? The problem is this type of search confuses Google and produces results that aren't desirable for academic research. In particular, you will get sites like,, yahooanswers, etc. These types of sites allow ANYONE to post answers to questions and, unlike wikipedia, no one monitors the sites or makes changes to false information. NEVER use these types of sites for school research.

SIX Tips for Helping Google Help You

Note: None of these tips are guaranteed to find you reliable, specific resources. What they will do is give you different results aimed at more specific information. Using a variety of search terms and techniques will help Google find more varied resources for you to consider.
  1. Use specific, descriptive words in your search query. Different combinations will yield different results. Experiment!

    • examples: Lady Gaga's impact, Lady Gaga's contributions to society, Lady Gaga's influence
  2. Use OR or - to connect words or phrases or to eliminate certain words from your search

    • example: Lady Gaga social impact OR contributions, Lady Gaga -music ( will NOT include music in the search findings)
  3. Enclose a phrase in quotations to find results that contain that exact phrase

    • example: "Lady Gaga's impact on teenagers" or "Lady Gaga's influence"
  4. Search domain by putting the words (, .gov, etc.) at the end of a search

    • example: Lady Gaga or "Lady Gaga" AND society (notice how this search combines several of the above tips)
  5. Use Google Advanced Search -click on the Advanced Search link right below the search window. This will help you do all of the above, plus more.

  6. Let your research GUIDE your research. As you find out more, use this to direct your search queries. In other words, come up with new search terms as you discover more information about your topic.

Click here for more Google search tips from Google themselves

No matter what method you use to search, ALWAYS check websites by asking:


Screen_shot_2011-10-26_at_12.45.48_PM.pngwrote, posted or sponsors this information?

Screen_shot_2011-10-26_at_12.45.56_PM.pngdo I know they know their stuff?

If you can't answer these questions...DON'T USE THE SITE!