Tip Thursday: Google Better

Welcome to another edition of Tip Thursday, a weekly Tech Insider feature that offers useful computing tips you can apply right at your own desktop or laptop.

This week: Focus your Google searches.

Searching on Google seems straightforward: Type the words you want to search for into Google's query box, and hit return (or click on "Google Search"). Google returns results sorted according to a proprietary algorithm, which ranks sites according to popularity and relevance. But results often can be overwhelming. Google can return thousands, or sometimes millions, of results pages long.

How about narrowing the search down a bit? Start by excluding terms you don’t want to search for. You can do this by using a minus sign, followed directly (using no spaces) by the term you want to exclude. If you want to exclude a multi-word term, put the term in quotes.

Say you want to search just on a particular domain (.com, .gov, .mil, .org, etc.). Easy. You specify a domain by typing in site:[domain name here]. For example: site:.gov. You can get more precise by specifying the Web address, as in site:govexec.com.

Maybe you want to search just for cached sites, because what you’re looking for has been taken off-line. Type in cache:[search term here].

Needless to say, these tips are only a few ways you can fine-tune your Google searches. As a company, Google does a poor job promoting these search tips, but if you want more, go to their web page, which goes into more detail.

Look for more on Google in later Tip Thursday submissions.