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Let’s all admit, here and now, that we use Google Search more often than not, when we are initiating a project or an event. Shoot, most of us Student Affairs Pros second as graphic designers, marketing experts, event heads, etc and use Google to help us out many times for ideas or images.

Now, I’ve been working on a couple of projects both personal and professional lately, and have had to utilize my Google search engine quite a bit lately. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m pretty solid on Google-ing. However I’ve noticed that after an hour or so of searching I continue to find the same few articles or websites and I know that there are more than those few resources out in cyberland. So, I Googled (I know ironic) best practices on Google Search Engine and found a few, in addition to some I have created to help with my Google searches. For the past week, I’ve been using and testing some of the new various tips given, and thought I’d share with you a list of my best techniques in searching using Google.

Use Google Search Autocomplete: If you’re having a hard time thinking of what words or phrases to use for a search, just type a generic related word and take a look at the suggestions offered by Google. Many times they will not be the exact search that you want, but they will help generate some ideas and get those brain waves flowing.

Use a Thesaurus: Have a Thesaurus nearby when you’re doing Google searches. It can be an online Thesaurus, a word program Thesaurus or even a hard copy form of the text. (I personally like hard copy, but I’m ‘old fashioned’) Utilize this resource to find alternative words to input into your searches. Many times, you will find a few new resources simply by using a synonym.

Utilizing the Tilde: Using the ~ is similar to using a Thesaurus, except that Google pulls any thing that is remotely related to the word. For example, when I type in: ~cat, my results varied between cats, the equipment, the brand and people (nicknames). This is a great search tool when you have no idea where to begin, and need to begin narrowing your search in order to utilize a Thesaurus for more specific searches.

Use the Code ‘filetype:…’: Many of us are always online looking for images and graphics for marketing purposes. Utilizing words in Google Image Search does well many times, however, often we must find specific file types. When you do need specific file types or have a preference of file type to work with, type ‘filetype:…’ and then the words you are looking for. For example, if I need only png files of my fraternity, I would type in: filetype:png kappa sigma. make sure there’s no spaces until after your file preference. This really helps narrow down the search when you need specific file types for graphics.

Use the Minus Sign: To be able to search a bit more specifically, utilize the minus sign. For example, say I want to search for articles related to fraternities only I would type: fraternities -sororities.

Just some hints and tricks to use when doing your next Google search for that random Higher Ed initiative or program 🙂 If you have any other hints or tips, please let me know! 🙂

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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