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Smarter Searches


As Master Gardener volunteers, our Mission is to provide research-based information related to garden and garden-adjacent topics. Many of us use the internet to find information if we don't know it off-hand but there is a lot of bad information out there.

Here are 8 tips to improve your online searches.

  1. Quotation marks (" ") Put quotes around search terms to let you search for exactly that word. Ex. "James Clear" This will return results only with both of those words in that order. Otherwise searches without quotes can return results with either both words or with only one of them.

  2. Dashes (–) You can hyphenate search terms to exclude a word. This is the opposite of quotation marks. Ex. dolphins-football This will return only results that are about dolphins but NOT about football. (-football is excluded)

  3. Tilde (~) Use a tilde when you want synonyms to appear in teh results Ex. Music ~classes This will return results about music classes, lessons, coaching, etc (anything synonym to the search term classes)

  4. (Site:) Starting your search with site: focuses search results to a specific website or type of website Ex. site:edu trees This will return results from only websites about trees that comes from a school source with .EDU in the URL. Another popular site source is .GOV (government). Ex. Kevin Ryan This will return results about this name from Linkedin.

  5. Vertical bar ( | ) This behaves as an OR to focus a search between two things Ex. Documentary Neflix | Hulu This returns results from either Netflix or Hulu

  6. 2x periods (..) Use two periods between numbers to search for results within those number ranges Ex. Movies 1980..1990 This will return search results of movies that exist only between 1980 and 1990

  7. (Location:) Starting a search with location: focuses search results within a physical location Ex. Elon Musk location:sanfrancisco This will return information about Elon Musk that come from or happen in San Francisco.

  8. (Filetype:) Adding filetype: to a search will filter results to a specified kind of file related to your search Ex. Pollinators filetype:pdf This will return only PDFs related to that search term, pollinators.

Brianna Gohde

RCMG Volunteer

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