Great content is often based on key data and statistics, which makes research a key skill to have for marketers. If you know how to use Google to search for the information that you need then you can produce a much higher standard of content that is more interesting and engaging for others to read. There are a number of features in Google that are designed to help anyone improve the way that they search.
Getting to grips with search operators
Search operators are effectively text cues that give Google the right information when it comes to helping you find the information that you need.
- Site: If you want to search one site only, using ‘Site:’ at the start of the search query will limit where Google looks. If you use ‘Related:’ then it will bring up sites that are related to the site that you specify. Make sure there is no gap between the colon and the site you’re searching.
- Quotation marks. Putting words in “quotation marks” will indicate to Google that you’re looking for that specific phrase.
- Asterisks. If you don’t have all the words for a specific phrase, using an asterisk (*) for the missing word will give Google the opportunity to fill in the blank.
- Number range (..). If your research involves searching for numerical data (e.g. date range) then using two full stops between two numbers will tell Google that you’re looking for results within that range.
- Boolean search operators. These can help you to focus search results beyond search engines. They include ‘AND’ (which shows you want results related to both search terms) and a hyphen before a search term, which will ensure that search results don’t include that specific term. ‘OR’ can also be useful, as it will tell Google that you’re only interested in sources that mention only one or the other of the terms that you’ve specified.
Use the filters on offer
One of the main challenges with research is often avoiding the use of out of date information. Google filters can help with this, for example you can filter the results that you see by date. Start at Tools and then navigate to Anytime to bring up a drop-down menu. From here you can choose a date range, such as the last hour, week or month.
Stick to the right sources
Although not a specific feature of Google, you can improve the results that you get when searching by ensuring that you only use sources that you can trust. For example, company websites are often a verifiable source of information, as are official company social media profiles. Government websites and agencies should be entirely reliable when it comes to sourcing statistics and data and research organisations often provide plenty of resources (although check their economic or political bias to see if they are truly objective).
Google is a huge resource and using it correctly can be difficult to do at times. However, with the help of the many tools that have been provided by the search engine it’s a simple process to upgrade the way that you search – and the results that you get.