February 18

Search Engines

Research shows that many students use only one favourite search engine (mostly Google) and then only browse or scan the first few hits.Before we start looking at how to search, let’s look at how Google finds information:

Why not branch out and try other search engines which may suit your purpose? Here are some other search options you might like to try:

Searching Better with Google

When you search Google you get thousands of results, and many of them aren’t helpful. There are a few tips to use when you search Google that get more specific results. Replace refugee with your own search terms.

  • Use more words in your search window e.g. refugee Australia policy not just refugee
  • Use ~ to search for all synonyms of your word e.g. ~refugee will also find websites about asylum seekers, and immigration.
  • Use “” around a phrase, otherwise Google will search the words separately e.g. “boat people”
  • Use OR in capitals if you don’t mind which term it finds e.g. “boat people” OR refugee.
  • When you type define: refugee the first results will be definitions. It will then do a regular search for the websites that include the word.
  • Use to exclude results with words you don’t want e.g. “boat people” –fish (No space between – and fish)
  • + does not work the same way. Use “” if you only want that version of the search term, not its synonyms.
  • Typing intext: refugee ensures that the word you want is in the body of text not just the title or URL.
  • Use to include a time frame e.g. refugee 1945…1950
  • To find your keyword on a particular website type refugee site: http://www.immi.gov.au/ using the URL of your site.
  • To find your keyword within a web page use Ctrl F This will open a search window and highlight every time the word appears.

Combine these tips to get a search that finds what you want faster every time.

Did you know that you can upload an image to the Google image search and it will match the picture?

A feature of the Advanced Search is that you can change the “usage rights” and only find items that are “free to share” – a very easy way to make sure your images are copyright-free!

The following clips show you how to achieve better search results using Google:

Google Scholar
Search for more academic articles in Google Scholar.

NOTE: Not everything online is available for free. Look for PDF or ‘Available Online’ articles.
Here’s a short film clip to show you how to use Google Scholar:

Spezify has the ‘wow’ factor of being a visual search engine. It gives related concepts at the top of the page and then throws up images, definitions, quotes, symbols and sites related to the search. NOTE: Some of the search results may include ‘M’ rated content. You can go into ‘Tools’ and take out the social networking sites, to clean up search results.
A Spezify search for ‘genetically modified food’, for example, may look like this:


Although Mashpedia is really a visual encyclopedia, it’s a great way to locate different media about a person, event or topic. As always, information should be cross-checked against other sources.


A great search engine which shows related terms or parts of your search topic. It also contains online videos, pictures, quizzes, facts and graphs about your topic.

NOTE: Not usable through Internet Explorer or Firefox!
Here’s an example of an Instagrok search. You can see the drop down menu of options on the right hand side:

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