Using a basic search is generally sufficient to get you the results you’re looking for.
As has been mentioned previously, the simpler the query, then the quicker and more relevant the results are likely to be. However, there are occasions when it might be necessary to utilise some of the more advanced search functions to aid a query, though it’s unlikely that this will be needed too often.
Phrase Search (“”)
If you type double quotation marks around a set of words, Google will search for those exact words in the exact order. In fairness Google already uses a similar system for all queries, using the words as listed and their order, so the use of quotes might not be necessary. However, it will depend on the particular circumstances. Bear in mind though, that by using quotes you may run the risk of excluding other information that might be relevant to your search.
Searching only within a specific website (site:)
Searchers can ask Google to limit its search to a specific website only – ie UK:.gov: this search will only return information on dot gov domain. Alternatively you can ask for information on a subject and specify that the results only show the information from a given website: specifying (telegraph.co.uk site: budget) will give you only the information from that particular site about budget news. You might however gather the same information from a simpler search by asking for (budget daily telegraph.)
Excluding Terms (-)
By adding a minus sign immediately before a word will tell Google to disregard pages containing that word from its results. The word that is to be excluded should always be preceded with a space so that Google is aware it is not a hyphenated name – for instance anti-virus – software, will exclude a search for software, as opposed to anti-virus software which will search all words as written. It’s even possible to exclude specific websites by placing a minus sign immediately before the site to be excluded.
The wildcard is a little used, but powerful feature. The use of a * within a query tells Google to the symbol as a placeholder for any unknown term: Google will then attempt to find the best matches. If you searched for Manchester United *, you would be presented with all the pages that feature information relating to the Club, whereas if you searched for Manchester United *trophies, you would only gather information that is related to the cups and awards the team has won.
Search as is (+)
Google sometimes uses synonyms in its searches and this can produce results that you do not wish to see. By adding a + sign immediately before the chosen word with no spaces, you can tell Google to search for that word exactly as you typed it. Putting double quotes around the particular word achieves the same thing.
The OR Operator
By default Google will search for all the words in any given query. To specifically allow a certain word, you can use the OR function, making sure that OR is capitalised. Any search for (Manchester United 2009 2010) will bring up results for both years, whereas (Manchester United 2009 OR 2010) will produce results for either one of those years.