Guest Blog Post: Lesser-Known Google Search Tips and Tricks for Students and Teachers

Editor’s note: Today’s article is a guest blog post from +Andrew Broadbent, Director of Search Marketing at Vab Media and one of our volunteers during the Connecticut Summit last June. His passion for “search” inspired him to create this blog post to help students and teachers be more effective in doing web research by harnessing the power of Google.

Google Certified teacher Carol Larow, conducted a presentation a few weeks ago at the Google For Education Summit held at Greenwich Country Day School. I am writing this post to give teachers and students a comprehensive overview on Google’s advanced web search features at the same time to make this article a reference. This post takes a lot from her presentation and from my own experience as a search marketer.

Both students and teachers can greatly benefit from learning about Google’s advanced search filters by helping speed up the process at the same time refining their inquiry.

There is more to Google than just typing a few words into their search box. A regular Google search can be quick and can give you more broad-matched results, but in those searches you may not always find exactly what you are looking for. Effective research should help you find and recover specific material that is not retrieved from a normal Google search.

Google has quite a few “lesser-known” features that enrich people’s search experience on the Internet. I will teach you how to use Google much more effectively using its powerful information- gathering tools. These features are helpful to students, teachers, librarians, and administrators to cut through the clutter and eliminate the frustration of sorting through millions of Search Engine Results Page (SERPS) or hits.

Educators can use these Google search tools to help teach and assist their students as when they are conducting research and developing internet literacy skills. With these more advanced search filters, people can input what they are looking for and Google will return more specific, useful information.

Important note: We are not saying to students, teachers and librarians that Google or Bing is the end-all-be-all for research. When writing, it is equally important to cite sources and research from actual offline books, scholarly databases, and other conventional forms of research.

Speak Your Search

Use the Google search engine in Chrome App or Application to search for information by speaking terms aloud in your computer’s microphone.

Go to a Google search page, hover, and see the little microphone icon to right side of the actual search term box (see Figure 1). Then speak into your device what you want to search for, and Google hears it and gives the same search result as it would have if you typed it manually.

Figure 1

Google picks a definition to read aloud as the first result, and as in the example below, with Google’s knowledge and the Universal Search Algorithm, it pulls information from Wikipedia, images, and other related search topics. When students are doing research this can a useful tool.

According to Carol Larow, “This feature can be very helpful with students who have difficulty spelling accurately, those with limited manual dexterity, ESL students, or when anyone wishes to use a quicker way of searching”.

Google even allows you to speak your search in different languages!

Example: Search for “Paul Revere” while speaking it to the microphone on your desktop using Google Chrome’s browser.

Google then returns back this search result (see Figure 2) and speaks back to you: “According to Wikipedia Paul Revere was an American silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and a patriot in the American Revolution

Figure 2

Use Google’s Inside Search Tips and Tricks Tool

If you go to Google Inside Search website and click on the top navigational bar area entitled “Tips and Tricks”, one will find a very useful tool set for students called Trying to Ace a Class. Here are some of the cool tools you can use:

  • Calculate Anything – Enter any math equation into the search box and Google will calculate your answer. Try it out

Figure 3 : Search “100*3.14-cos(83)=”

  • Search by Advanced Image Search – You can use an advanced image search to find an exact size, color or type of photo or drawing. With the tools in the top navigational search to the right labeled “Search Tool”, click on it and it shows you more search filters. The tool also allows you to filter your search to show you, only clip art, only photos with faces, high-res images or only images that are available for commercial use. Try it out

Figure 4: Search “mount mckinley

  • Get Definitions – Put define: in front of any word to get its definition. Try it out

Figure 5: Search “define: loquaciousness”

  • Search by File Type – You can search for documents with a specific file type such as PDFs, PPTs, or XLS by simply adding filetype:[3-letter file abbreviation] after your keywords. Refer to Figure 6.

Figure 6

  • Find related pages – To find pages that have similar or related content, use the related: operator followed by the internet address of the page you want to compare to. See Figure 7.

Figure 7

  • Get number conversions – You can convert any unit of measurement directly on Google search (e.g. ounces to liters, or miles to kilometers). Try it out

Figure 8: Search “miles to km”

  • Read public domain books – Read the complete texts of public domain works like Moby Dick for free by selecting “books” in the 3rd result (highlighted red) on the top navigational bar of your search results. See Figure 9.

Figure 9

  • Hone in on a particular range – “To specify a particular number range, type .. then a space, then the numbers in your range. For example, if you’re searching for cars with over 300 horsepower, search cars “300.. horsepower“. Here are some other examples: “220.. V” or “1.. RPM” or “8000.. mAhbattery”- Google

Figure 10

  • Google’s Related Searches – Related Search is a great feature. Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to better understand what you are looking. After you made a search, at the bottom of the search results page, there are a series of eight suggested searches displayed as links, under the heading “Searches related to: your keyword“.

          Related terms are followed by the original word you searched for. In this example we searched Paul Revere and you can see the related searches.

Figure 11

Google Image search

Google Images is a search service that allows users to search the Web for image content. Notice too that sometimes, even if you are in the standard “web” search, for certain regular searches, Google will return images.

Google Similar Image Filter : Upload an Image

Google Image Search allows you to upload a photo by clicking the camera icon within the search box (see Figure 12) for it to be able to find web pages containing the same image, even those that are cropped.

Figure 12

Note that Google only shows similar images that have a similar combination of shape, proportion and colors to your original (see Figure 13).

Figure 13

Google Search Tools : Past Week News

Google lets you filter results by the time, such as the past hour, day, or week. You can even filter news results for a particular phrase “Iraq War” also by the time.

Figure 14: search “Iraq War”

Search by Reading Level

This search feature can be especially useful to ESL students and ones that read slower or less often. If they are not at an advanced reading level, then they can choose intermediate instead. This can be an excellent time saver for students as it assists them in finding websites for information and research. reading level is divided into three categories: basic, intermediate, and advanced.

Figure 15

Google Image Search Filter by Usage Rights

When you go to Google Image search, you will see an option under the search tools for “usage rights.” Searching and filtering images by “usage rights” is not a new feature for Google Image Search.

Figure 16

Google Image Search Filter: “Clip Art”

You can use Google image search filter options to find different types of images, you can limit the kind of images you find such as Photo, Face, Animated, Line Drawing or “Clip Art

Figure 17

I’m Feeling Lucky in Google AutoSuggest

If you’re searching on Google and Google Instant is turned on, you can hover over “I’m Feeling Lucky” on the Google homepage and the button will spin and land on a phrase that starts with “I’m Feeling.” Just click the button to check out a new website. One thing to note: You need to go into Google Search setting and make sure the “speak your search” is disabled or this will not be shown.

Figure 18

In this example I hovered over it and it spun to to “I’m feeling Artsy” and the next screenshot webpage came up (see Figure 19). Pretty cool.

Figure 19

Google AutoSuggest Tool

This search engine feature offers an interesting look at what different people think about a certain search query. The suggestions that Google offers all come from how people actually search. For example, if you type in the word “coupons,” Google will suggest these other phrases that maybe what you are possibly looking for:

Figure 20

Intitle: “President George Washington”

Type into Google: intitle: “keyword phrase” and this result will reveal how many websites have the search query in the title tag of the article.

Search for historic sites in Google: NYC

You can also use Google to search for a landmark or “Historic Site”. In this example, we used “NYC”.

Figure 21

Research Tools in Google Docs

When conducting a search, the Research tool in Google Docs will show you different types of results — web results, images, tables, quotations, maps, reviews, personal results, and more.

It shows you web results right there as you are writing a paper and makes it easier to not have to leave the document you already started. In the example we searched “Paul Revere”

Figure 22

Google’s Advanced Search Features

When you first go to Google, it looks like a very simple search engine with no ads or clutters that other search engines do, but it is much more advanced than it appears. Over to the right of the search box, there is a little gear options icon (see Figure 23).

Figure 23

A drop down menu appears, if you scroll down to the 4th one that says Advanced Search, and if you press it a page comes up with many different options. See Figure 24.

Figure 24


Technology is always changing and it’s good to know what is out there when you are trying to minimize your time on the Internet and find relevant evaluated results. AppEvents in partnership with Google For Education is doing an awesome job at deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.

Andrew Broadbent is among Vab Media’s top content marketing specialists. He creates search optimized creative content to help websites draw traffic organically and keep visitors engaged. Andrew has extensive experience with traditional and technical SEO writing for fortune 500 corporations, start ups and many other industries. He has been sought out for his expertise by multiple media outlets including ABC News, LA Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek. Check out his blog, Connect with Andrew on Linkedin. Add him to your circle on Google+.

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