Become a Google expert


Google is probably the search engine that you are most familiar with but most of us only use a fraction of Google's full potential. 

On this page we'll show you some ways to improve your Google searching skills in order to retrieve more useful search results for your research.

Enlarge (click on) the image below for a bigger pdf version.
Google search tips diagram

 Google search options

 Google search features


Modifiers help to refine your searches and get better results.
white quote marks in red circle What it does: searches for an exact phrase
What to type: "I have a dream"
What you'll get: results that include the exact phrase "I had a dream"
white minus symbol in red circle
What it does: excludes search results with a particular word or phrase
What to type: apple -fruit
What you'll get: results about Apple that are not related to fruit
tilde symbol in red circle
What it does: searches for a word and all its synonyms
What to type: ~mobile phone
What you'll get: results with "phone" and also "cell", "cellular" etc.
word OR in white in red circle
What it does: searches for pages that include either word
What to type: diving Tioman OR Redang
What you'll get: results with "Diving" and either "Tioman" or "Redang"
define on blue button What it does: defines a word or phrase
What to type: define:ubiquitous
What you'll get: links to definitions of "ubiquitous"
site on blue button What it does: searches only particular websites
What to type: robotics
What you'll get: references to robotics found on .edu websites
link on blue button
What it does: searches for webpages
What to type:
What you'll get: websites that link to the website
1+1 on blue button What it does: basic calculator functions
What to type: 4+7, 30% of 55, 20^2,sqrt(4), etc.
What you'll get: the answer
cm in foot on blue button

What it does: converts units of measure
What to type: cm in foot, 28C in F, $ in pound, days in fortnight, miles in league, mph in speed of light, etc.
What you'll get: the converted answer

Advanced Search

 Google Advanced


Google offers a variety of special Google Products.

Here are a few examples of search tools that may be useful in your research (click on an icon to find it in Google) - these will retrieve only particular kinds of resources when you search:

Google Images - Search for images on the web

Google News - Search thousands of news stories

Google Scholarly Papers - Search scholarly papers

Google Books - Search the full text of books

 Google for education

How google works

When searching the internet it is useful to understand how you search is being performed and how your results are being chosen.

This short video gives a brief introduction to the methods used to determine what appears in your results list.

 How search works

Test your skills

Google provides a new challenge every day for you to practise your search skills.
Find out more about 'A Google a Day' in this short video, then have a go at today's question.

 A Google a day

Metasearch engine

"A metasearch engine is a search tool that sends user requests to several other search engines and/or databases and aggregates the results into a single list or displays them according to their source. Metasearch engines enable users to enter search criteria once and access several search engines simultaneously."

[Source: Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, 2011. Metasearch engine.
[Online] Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2011].]

Metasearch engines
Other search engines
Last reviewed 08 May 2019
Last updated 08 May 2019