Showing posts with label search tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label search tips. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A Few New Search Tools from Google

Those of you who use Chrome as your primary web browser on your computer or phone, that's 75% of all readers of according to my Google Analytics account, may notice a few new search tools the next time you update your browser. 

Yesterday afternoon Google announced new search shortcuts for the Chrome address bar. These new shortcuts let you quickly search your tabs, bookmarks, and history. To do this you simply type "@tabs" or "@bookmarks" or "@history" followed by your search term to search within your tabs, bookmarks, or Chrome browser history. 

The other new search feature that Google unveiled yesterday was an update to mobile search. Now when you conduct a search you'll see some suggested search filters and topics based on your original search. This update is rolling out now to the Google Search Android and iOS apps as well as the mobile browser.

Applications for Education
The new shortcuts to search within your browser bookmarks and history could be helpful to students who have been conducting some long-term research and need to review or revisit some of their findings that they forgot to note earlier on. The new suggestions in mobile search could be helpful to students who need some assistance narrowing the scope of a priliminary search.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

A Simple Tool for Finding Related Search Keywords

Brainstorming lists of alternative words and phrases is one of the strategies that I have students use when conducting online research. Doing this before they start a search and or whenever they feel stuck can help them generate new search result pages that doesn't duplicate the results of their previous queries. But sometimes our brainstorming sessions need a little jumpstart. That's when a tool like can be helpful. 

On you can enter a search term and have a list of related search terms generated for you. These are different and more comprehensive lists than Google's default "people also search for..." suggestions. 

Applications for Education
It should be noted that is a service that is designed for search engine optimization and search engine marketing professionals. For that reason, you'll see a lot of ads for purchasing marketing products that offers. You can ignore those ads and just look at the lists that are generated for free. Those lists can help you and your students come up with some new search terms to use when conducting online research in Google, Bing, and elsewhere.

On a related note, you might also be interested in these articles that I've previously published about search strategies:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Birds, Fish, and a Search Tip for Science Students

Some of you may recall from my posts earlier this year that my family and I have a lot of birds that nest around our house. We put out lots of bird feeders and hanging plants which attract all kinds of birds. Some of our favorites are Orioles and Yellow Finches. Recently, I learned that yellow finch isn't actually the right name for what we see at our feeders. What we actually see are American Goldfinches whose Latin name is Spinus tristis. 

My discovery of the Latin name for the American Goldfinch was prompted by revisiting a passage from Daniel Russell's The Joy of Search. In the seventeenth chapter of his book Dr. Russell writes about his research of parrotfish. On pages 242 and 243 of his book he explains that used the Latin name for a specific type of parrotfish so that he was sure his search results were about the specific fish he was interested in and not all parrotfish. 

I tend to be a slow reader because I often stop to jot notes in my notebook or ponder questions that pop into my mind while reading. One of those questions that popped into my brain while reading pages 242 and 243 of The Joy of Search was, "have I been calling birds by the wrong name?" It turns out that I haven't been necessarily using the wrong name for our bird feeder visitors, but I haven't been using the most correct name. That discovery was made through a simple Google search for "yellow finch latin name." 

The tip for science students.
If students are getting mixed results or conflicting search results when researching plants or animals, using the Latin or scientific names for those plants or animals will quickly narrow the scope of their search results. Similarly, using the Latin or scientific names in a search on Google Scholar will lead ften to papers that are hyper-focused on attributes of those plants or animals. Just be careful because that can lead you down another rabbit hole as it did for me when I discovered a second, accepted scientific name for American Goldfinches.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Why You Should Try Refining Searches According to File Type

Much like refining Google search results according to site or domain, refining search results according to file type is a good way to discover information that is helpful but doesn’t rank well in Google search results. For example, Google Earth files often contain interesting historical and geological facts placed in a geographic context. A classic example of that is found when looking for maps of American Civil War battles. Using the search term “American Civil War Battles” combined with filtering results to show only .KML files (the file format for Google Earth) will lead you directly to lots of publicly available Google Earth maps about the American Civil War.

Refining search results to PDF or Word files will often lead to academic papers that have been published online and included in a website. A good example of this that I recently came across is found on the website, The Daily Papert a website run by Dr. Gary Stager for the purpose of sharing some of the wisdom of Dr. Seymour Papert. On the website Stager often publishes excerpts from and or entire academic papers written by Papert in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Those papers are almost entirely published as PDFs that don’t rank well in a Google search that isn’t refined according to file type. Not ranking well in Google’s algorithm is a reflection of how Google search works, not a reflection of the brilliance of Papert’s work.

It should be noted that you can refine searches according to file type without opening Google’s Advanced Search menu. You can simply add filetype: .pdf (or another filetype) to the end of your search term. However, I’ve found that it’s easier for students to remember to open the advanced search menu and select “narrow your results by file type” than it is to remember to add filetype: pdf to the end of a query.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Changing Search Predictions

Google has a lot of help search tools if you know how to access them and use them. Just opening the advanced search menu often shows students a new world of search refinement possibilities. However, Google also has a couple of search options that sometimes do more to distract than to help. Those options are "autocomplete with trending searches" and "personal autocomplete predictions." Fortunately, you can turn off both of those options. 

To turn off "autocomplete with trending searches" simply head to the Google search preferences page while you're signed into your Google account. Then scroll down and select "Do not show popular searches."

You can turn off personalized autocomplete predictions by going into your personal results page then unchecking "Show personal results." 

Applications for Education
Neither one of these features is inherently bad, but they can contribute to distracting students from their intended query.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Two Search Refinement Tips That Helped My Students Today

The students in one of my classes are currently working on some Arduino projects of their own choosing. A few of them had the idea to build and program model cars. The trouble they ran into is that we didn't have any Bluetooth modules and a lot of the plans they were looking at called for Bluetooth modules. They were starting to get frustrated with their search results when I interjected with the quick tip to exclude "Bluetooth" in the advanced search menu in Google. 

By excluding "Bluetooth" from the search results and choosing "filetype PDF" in the advanced search menu my students were able to get past a lot of their initial frustration. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to exclude words from search results and how to search by file type. 

Another little tip to pass along to your students when they are searching for PDFs is to remind them to use "Ctrl + F" (Windows computers) or "Command + F" (Mac computers) to search within a PDF for keywords or phrases.

I include more tips like these in my on-demand webinar, Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Refine Google Searches According to Date

Google's search function has a lot of handy features that students often overlook while conducting research. One of those features is the option to refine search results according to a range of dates. As I explain in the video embedded below, refining a search according to date can be a good way to discover what was written in the past about a person, event, or place.

Search strategies like this one and many more will be covered in more detail in Teaching History With Technology starting in October.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Simple and Helpful Google Search Strategy for Students

A few times in the past I've mentioned the value of having students use Google Image search in the quest to find the answers to their questions. I explained the rationale for that method in this post last June. Recently, a post on Dan Russell's blog reminded me of a tip that could help students in their quest to use Google Images to find clues to the answers of their questions. By right-clicking on the image students can simply select "search Google for this image" to find matching and similar images.
Click image to view full size. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Search Before You Move On - Another Simple Search Tip for Students

In my previous post I shared that I like to have students create a list of things they know before they start to search. Once they move on to Googling things another common bad habit often rears its head. That is the habit of only glancing at the webpages they open from the search results page. Or worse yet, only reading the brief snippet that appears below the link in a search results page. The reason for this behavior that students often give is “it takes too long to read the whole page.” To remedy this teach your students to use “Control F” (Windows) or “Command F” (Mac) when they open a webpage from the search results page.

Control F or Command F allows you to search within any webpage for any letter, word, or phrase. Using this function can be quite helpful to students who want to determine whether or not a particular webpage contains information relevant to their research topics. Simply seeing the count of the number of times a word or term appears on a page can be an indicator of whether or not the page contains information relevant to a research topic.