Web Search Exercise



1. Let’s start with Google – http://www.google.com

2. Type in apples oranges in your Google search box.

Sample Google search of Apples and Oranges

3. Look under the search box and note how many Web sites were found. When I did the search on December 7, 2010 I received 3,960,000.  On December 12, 2012, I found about 21 million!

4. Now type in apples OR oranges. Be sure to type the “OR” in capitals so that Google knows that you are using it as a command and not as a search word.

Sample Google search of apples or oranges

Notice how many Web pages were found in your prior search compared to this one.  This is because in the first search we requested that both oranges and apples had to be found at each site.  While now we will accept sites that have only apples or only oranges as well as those that have both.  This multiplies the possible results.

5. Now let’s try something else, type in light house and run the search.  Notice how Google will ask if you really mean lighthouse as one word?

light house

6. One of my favorite features offered by Google is this potential to correct my spelling if I want it to.  Click on the corrected spelling (illustrated above) that Google offers and let it redo the search for you.  Isn’t it nice that you don’t have to retype your search to get the corrected results?

7. Misspelled I found 1,150,000,000 results or pages, while spelled correctly I only found 96,000,000, so I dropped quite a few million pages. Unfortunately that is still way too much, so let’s look for something more specific.

Add the words oregon (bandon OR coquille OR tillamook).  See the example below, and note how many pages your search found and that it didn’t matter whether you capitalized the names or not.  The only uppercase characters that really matter are those indicating search commands.

Sample Google search for lighthouse oregon (bandon OR coquille OR tillamook)

Look at some of the items. Notice that excerpts from these sites are included along with the name of the sites.  These excerpts help you tell how a site might relate to your search and whether you want to bother looking at them.

8. Let’s try another search. Type in car repair. See how many pages you found. Page through the first two screens and see what kind of pages have been returned to you. Because Google ranks the sites the first few are often the best sites available.

Sample Google search for car repair

9. Now type “car repair” as a phrase. As you can see you have quite a few less, however it’s still too much.

Sample Google search of car repair as a phrase.

10. Now leave your previous search of “car repair” alone and add next to it ford taurus. We now see fewer pages but it is still a ridiculous number of pages. car repair3

11. Try adding the phrase “owner’s manual”. You should now see even fewer.

car repair owners

12.  So if this didn’t give us a copy of the Ford Taurus owner’s manual where would we look next? As it happens the Ford Company’s Web site (http://www.ford.com) has owners’ manuals available in full text online for the more recent years (1996 to the present year). They have their own search engine (searches only their Web site) which allows you to find material on just their site. You could also check an auction site such as e-bayhttp://www.ebay.com..

13. Take a moment to try these same searches in other search engines. Take time to look at their equivalent “Help” or “Advanced Searches” tip pages. Note how their search strategies differ from Google’s.

Specialized Search Engines

14.  Go to the genealogy directory Cyndi’s Listhttp://www.cyndislist.com/.  Here we can do two things, we can see what a directory looks like and we can find specialized genealogy search engines.  Scroll through Cyndi’s List; notice she has links to jump you to specific topics. Also use Cyndi’s search box to look for genealogy search engines by typing “search engines

15. Now for the tough part! Think of something you would like to find and try to find it in one or more search engines. It can be anything, a poem, a song, a recipe, something related to one of your hobbies, or your favorite author’s official Web site.

16. Google can also be used to search for pictures. Type loons in the Google search box.
Now without changing anything else click on the word “Images” found to the left of your search, it will rerun your search automatically and find images related to your term.

loon image search
Looking at the example above, note how many pictures Google found.

17. If you scroll through the many pages you may notice that some pictures are of people rather then birds! Try using the “NOT” command to get rid of images with people in them. In Google you may use the “-” to avoid words you don’t want.  Here’s what I did; loons (bird OR birds) -man -men -students -people -person –birders -guys

loons not people


You now know the basic tools for improving your searches. Good Hunting!!


The search engine market is highly competitive and Google maintains its current position by constantly improving its technology and adding new features.


Note the ‘more’ shown in the menu on the left of your search, or look for the ‘more’ available from the drop down menu at the top.  Click it to see many of Google’s popular offerings. Clicking the “even more” at the bottom of that drop down menu will also give you access to what else Google has available for its power users.

In the text menu above your search box you will see ‘SHOPPING’ – is a specialized search engine designed to aid your searches for products to buy.  Note the other special searches Google provides you.

For more information on searching tips and other aids see Google’s help center at http://support.google.com/websearch.