If you use Google, chances are there’s been at least one occasion when you’ve struggled to find the information you’re looking for. It happens to everyone. Even the most experienced Google searchers can find themselves digging through page after page of search results. Why? Because writing precise, targeted search queries is an art! There are no hard and fast rules that dictate exactly the words, syntax and advanced operators that you should use. Every query is different and Google’s algorithm is always evolving.
Luckily, we can use what we know about how Google search works under the hood to help us write better (if not 100%-perfect-all-the-time) queries.
Check out these top 6 things to remember when using Google:
- Google Search is Case-Insensitive: This means you don’t have to worry about capitalizing proper nouns like countries, names or holidays.
- Google Search Ignores Most Punctuation: Key takeaway: don’t waste time typing apostrophes and commas! Notice however that I do say “most”, and not all. That’s because Google can detect when punctuation is part of a valid search term. For example, if I search for [C#], the programming language, Google knows to interpret the pound sign as part of the query and will include it. There are also a handful of very important punctuation symbols called “search operators”, which Google uses to refine and target specific results. I review the most common of these Advanced Google Search Operators in my Mastering Google Search course on Udemy. Click here to learn more!
- Google Search is Singular/Plural-Insensitive: What this means is that if you search “diet” it will also search for results containing the word “diets”. It will also include “dieting”, using a process called “stemming” which automatically searches for different word endings.
- Google Search Automatically Considers Synonyms and Related Words: So, if you search “hairdresser” it will also consider results containing the words “salon” or “hair stylist”.
- Google Search Typically Auto-Corrects Spelling Mistakes: In addition to behaving like a very smart thesaurus, Google will also auto-correct your spelling mistakes. This is a very useful feature when you don’t know how to spell something! To disable auto-correct for a specific query, simply click the “Search instead for” link at the top of the page to tell Google to show results for your original spelling.
- Google Search Accounts for Word Order: A key part of how Google finds relevant content is detecting pairs of words (also called bi-grams) that match your search query. You should try to write keywords in the order that they would normally be spoken or thought of. If you’re not finding what you want, try shuffling your search terms.
These are a few of the most important ways that Google interprets the queries that we type in. Keep them in mind when writing your queries and you’ll immediately start reducing the time you spend searching for results. Punctuation? Don’t need it! Spelling? Don’t worry about it! Take advantage of the fact that Google automatically searches for related words and synonyms to brainstorm additional keyword ideas.
Want to Learn More?
To learn lots more about Google search, including how you can write better search queries, pinpoint information using Advanced Operators and employ tools like Google Image search and Google Voice search, check out my Udemy course: Mastering Google Search: Save Time & Search Like A Pro.
*Note: In my blog posts, I stick to the convention of writing Google search queries between square brackets [ ]. If you’re following along, remember that you don’t actually type the square brackets into Google.