Getting Good Results with Google Search Strategies

Have you ever watched your students search the Internet? They type a single keyword in the search box, get hundreds of millions of hits, and barely glance at the first three results before moving on. According to Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody , the problem is not “information overload,” it’s “filter failure.” Let’s face it, in the digital age, with the abundance of information at our fingertips, the ability to filter through the junk and find the good stuff is an increasingly important skill. In this hands-on workshop, Google Certified Teacher, Honor Moorman will share tips and tricks for using the world’s most popular search engine. You will learn effective search strategies for getting Google to give you the exact results you’re looking for, so you and your students can filter effectively and search successfully.

Teaching Internet Search Strategies

Why is it important to teach students advanced Internet search strategies?

In an Internet environment of "publish then filter" (Clay Shirky), students need to develop filtering skills
Information Literacy is the solution to "data smog"

Note: If you attended a "Getting Good Results with Google" workshop that was longer than 1 hour, we probably talked a bit more about Why Information Literacy is So Critical.

Step 1: Choose the right search engine for your needs

Learn How Different Search Engines Work

Use tabbed browsing to open multiple search engines at once.
Try the exact same search terms in each search engine and compare the results.
Most popular: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, AOL (powered by Google)

Other search engines:
Cuil "ranks pages based on popularity and relevance"
Kartoo "draws a semantic map to see the topics and refine your search"
Wolfram Alpha is a "computational knowledge engine"
Dogpile searches Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask all at once
Metacrawler searches Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and About all at once
Clusty "searches top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking"
KIDO'Z "safe, easy and fun Internet for kids"
KidRex "fun and safe search for kids, by kids"
Quintura - visual search engine
Scoopler - real-time search engine
One Riot - "find fresh relevant search results as they emerge on the social web"
Collecta - includes from blogs, microblogs, news feeds, and photo sharing sites

Find even more educational and student-friendly search engines on eduTecher
You can also get advice to help you Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need
Or use the NoodleQuest

Poll: Which search engine do you typically use?

Poll Everywhere
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • Ask
  • AOL
  • Other

U.S. rankings: Google 74%, Yahoo 16%, Microsoft's Bing 6%, Ask 2% and AOL (powered by Google) 1%
Worldwide, in the past quarter Google has more than 80% of searches
~Charles Arthur, “The small search engines: Meet Bing, Baidu, Scour and Clusty” July 30, 2009,

Step 2: Make the search engine work for you

Web Search Strategies in Plain English from Common Craft

This video would make a great introduction to this lesson --> Boolify Worksheet: Refining Keywords

Step 3: Use Boolean Logic & Boolean Search Operators

Boolify Lesson: And, Or, Not
Boolify - manipulative mental model for Boolean Search
The Boolean Machine - Venn diagrams

Video Tutorials on Boolean Operators

Click the rectangular button to the right of the play button to see the full playlist

Google Search

Google's Mission: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

As we explore the various tools and tricks in Google Search, please be thinking about how and when we can introduce each search strategy to our students.
These are best taught as minilessons with time to practice each search technique in the context of an authentic research project or task students are working on.

Please add your Minilessons for Teaching Google Search to this spreadsheet in Google Docs

Step 1: Understand How Google Search Works

Google search basics: Search results page

Step 2: Use Google Search Options

Google Search Stories

A fun way to introduce how these options can help you as you move through life
You can even create your own search story with the Google Search Stories Video Creator

Search Options: The Basics
Everything (Web)
Related searches
Wonder wheel
Page previews
Translated search

Search Options: Specific Media

News (Categories - All, Headlines, Images)
Fast Flip
News Archive Search
News Timeline




Similar Images
Image Swirl

How do they know which images go with the words you type in the search box?
They use crowdsourcing, of course
You can contribute to the cause by playing the Image Labeler game!

Step 3: Use Advanced Search Features
Advanced Search
Advanced Image Search (includes filtering for Creative Commons licenses under "Usage Rights")
Advanced Scholar Search
Advanced Book Search
Advanced News Search
Explore Google Search
Improve your search experience with Google Search Features

15 Second Search Tips

These 15-second videos introduce Google's Search Features like "Dictionary" and "Fill in the Blanks"
Click the rectangular button to the right of the play button to see the full playlist

Search Term Operators (Modifiers)

Add the following Google Search Operators to limit your results
Once you find a good website in the list of results, you can click "similar" to find more like it

This chart was created based on the following Google resources:
Google Search - The Essentials
Google Search: Basic Help
Google Search: More Help
Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier (interactive tutorial)
Advanced Search Operator Cheat Sheet (this quick reference guide is also available as a pdf)

Ready to learn more?
Google channel on YouTube
The Official Google Blog
Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks
12 Quick Tips to Search Google Like an Expert
100+ Google Tricks That Will Save You Time in School

Step 4: Share your searches with others

Custom Search Engine

Create a Custom Search Engine that limits searches to only those sites you select
For example, this English Teacher Resources search engine is limited to National Council of Teachers of English , National Writing Project , International Reading Association , ReadWriteThink , and English Companion - Ning and Diigo Group

Custom News Search

Use NewsShow Wizard to embed a Custom News widget on your website
Here's a News widget for K-12 Education

*Note: you can also embed Google videos, maps, books, and images on your site

Step 5: Make the Information Come to You

Google Alerts

Make Google Alerts your virtual research assistant

You can have the results delivered to your email, subscribe in Google Reader (video below), or embed the RSS feed on your website (example & video below)

Here's the RSS feed for a Google Alert on the search K-12 education
[[rss url="feed://" link="true" number="10"]]

Resources for Teaching & Learning Google Search Strategies

Google Web Search - Classroom Lessons & Resource
Keys to Search City
Dan Russell's Resources for Teaching Search
Classroom Posters with Google Search Tips