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Google and Google Scholar: Improve your Googling

How to improve your Googling and search Google Scholar more effectively

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Banner image source: Pixabay 12345 licensed under a CC0 Public Domain licence.

Try it out!

Google is a powerful search engine that can find lots of information on the Web. Knowing how to use it effectively will cut down your searching time and give you better results.

 

Put your Google skills to the test

A Google A Day sets a daily search challenge to put your Google skills to the test.

"There's no right way to solve it, but there's only one right answer."

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Top 5 ways to improve your Googling

  1. Put inverted commas around phrases, eg “Great Wall of China”
  2. Be specific. Advanced search helps with this, by giving options to limit your search, eg to sites ending in .edu updated in the last month
  3. Use academic/professional terminology, eg use the scientific name of a substance
  4. Word order and word choice matters, Google will prioritise the words at the start of your search. Including a keyword or two that you expect to see in the results can help too.
  5. For real control over your search, try learning some search syntax, such as allintitle.

Don’t trust everything online! The CRAPP test on the Evaluate Resources Survival Guide can help you evaluate information. 

How Google works

Google’s spiders, or web crawlers, index content on the web, a bit like the index in the back of a book. They can only do this for sites that are publicly accessible, not everything is in Google.

When you enter a search, Google’s algorithms then work to find the best match for your result. Factors taken into consideration to rank search results include:

  • How many times your search terms appear in the webpage
  • Where they appear (eg if in the title it will rank higher)
  • How many pages link to that web page
  • Your location and browsing history

Not everything is in Google

Search engines, such as Google, do not search the Web directly. Instead, they search databases of webpages that have been harvested from the Internet by computer programs known as robots or spiders. These spiders periodically crawl the Web and index the text, links and other data in each webpage. This information is stored in the search engine’s database, which is queried when a search is performed.

The spiders do not capture everything on the Web, notably:

  • Webpages that are excluded by a search engine’s policy as of little value or use
  • Webpages deliberately excluded by their owners
  • Sites that require registration and login
  • Content of searchable databases such as university library article databases and catalogues

This information is generally not included in search results as it is generally inaccessible to search engine spiders. It is therefore known as the invisible, hidden or deep web.

Deep web

Source: https://www.deepweb-sites.com/how-big-is-the-deep-web/ 

It is estimated that the deep web is 400-550 times larger than the visible web. Even then, it is recommended to use a variety of sources, including a search engine other than Google, as well as UWA Library resources. These are accessible through OneSearch and the databases.

An exception to this is Google Scholar, a search engine which searches across scholarly literature such as journal articles, conference proceedings, theses and government reports. See the Google Scholar page for more details and search techniques.