7 search engine tips and tricks you need to know

How strong is your Google-fu? Do you pull up the sites you’re looking for with a single search, or do you have to keep going back to the search bar?

Scanning through pages of unrelated results is a waste of your valuable work time. But if you learn how to conduct efficient searches, you can save time and eliminate double-work. Learn how to put your search engine to work with a few tips and tricks that can help narrow the field.

1. Use longer keyword phrases

A word or two might be enough to encapsulate the concept you’re researching, but the more words you use, the better the match.

For example, if you’re doing research on the competition, you don’t want to just use your industry name. That could bring up sites from around the world rather than direct competitors. Instead, put in the company’s name. By focusing on the result you want and providing enough information to the search engine, you can avoid thousands of irrelevant results.

2. Block junk sites

If you consistently run into a wall of useless information from a handful of the same sites, just block those publishers.

Using the advanced search functions on Google, you can exclude URLs that don’t add value to your search. Here’s a useful guide on how to avoid search junk.

3. Search an image with an image

Sometimes you just want to know what’s going on with an image. Where’d it come from? What does it mean? What is it?

Well, don’t bother trying to explain the image to Google. Just give the image to Google instead.

Use the camera button to add the image to your search bar and Google will crawl the internet for similar images.

4. Add stop words back into your search

Did you know that Google ignores some words in the search bar?

Stop words are terms that Google discards before running a search. Some of the most common stop words include: a, the, be, how, it, and to. In most cases, eliminating these words speeds up the search process without compromising your results.

However, when you want a how-to guide, these words are an important addition to your search. To force Google to include these words, simply add a + sign before the stop word.

5. Excluding irrelevant words

Google automatically discards certain words, but you can always add more words to the discard list.

For example, if you’re looking for information about a group of musicians, you probably don’t want to scroll past long lists of wedding bands. To solve this tiny issue, type rock band into the search bar, as well as -wedding to exclude irrelevant pages.

6. Search engine thesaurus

Struggling with a tip-of-the-tongue sensation? Not sure what word to use for your search? No worries. Google lets you automatically include synonyms and similar search terms using the “~” symbol. Add the tilde before a word and Google will become your search thesaurus.

7. Only search one site

Want information buried somewhere on a specific site? Google lets you limit results, so your query will only pull up results for one specific website.

Simply add “site:” and the name of the site at the end of your search. This will tell Google to crawl only pages on one location. For example, “site:cnet.com laptops.”


With these simple tips, you can improve your productivity at work. But when it comes to productivity, in general, this is just the very beginning. To learn more, take a look at our 3-step guide to greater productivity through technology.