Google Speed-Search Lesson #1 – Phrase Searches

Speed SearchingWhen I was in Secondary school, my math teacher gave us a peculiar exercise for homework. She wanted us to memorize the alphabet backwards before the next lesson. Not surprisingly, when that lesson came, there were only two of us in the class who had actually made the effort to remember our ABCs in reverse order. Thanks to that teacher, I have since been able to fire through a dictionary from either end, and find words faster than most other people. 

Speed up your searching with Google

Maybe you have no need for a dictionary these days, but you probably use Google enough to benefit from some speed-searching tricks. Wouldn’t it be great to speed up your Google searches, finding things in half the time? These days, search engines provide special commands that can help you do just that, and I’m going to show you how to use them in small, bite-sized chunks. I’ll start off with the simplest of tricks – the phrase search.

Using phrase searches to speed up your search

Let’s imagine you want to visit Himeji Castle, but don’t know if it’s worth seeing. Let’s Google

Himeji Castle

Okay, that gives you 259,000 results, and most of the results on the first page just give you some background information. What you really need is a review, so you might try…

Himeji Castle reviews

Now you’ve got results for the Himeji Castle Hotel, and links to reviews of the hotel. The reason for this is that Google is returning web pages that contains those words, but not necessarily together, or even in that order. Again, we really want a review of the castle itself, so let’s look for someone who has actually been there, using a phrase search, i.e. we wrap the phrase in double-quotes, like this…

"went to Himeji Castle"

Google now returns 1,290 results for web pages that contain exactly that phrase. Most of the results are useful because the authors have literally said that they went to Himeji Castle, and in most cases go on to tell you what they thought of it. Perfect.

Getting the most out of Google phrase searches

You can search with a combination of phrase searches and keywords, too, for example:

"Canon printer driver" Vista


"Nick Ramsay" "English teacher" Japan

If this is all new to you, give it a try. You might be able to find an old friend or fix one of those bugging computer problems!

Next: Google Speed-Search Lesson #2 – Boolean

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

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