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Google Help: Cheat Sheet

There is more to search engines than just typing words into the search box. The Google Help: Cheat Sheet has some tips that can help you narrow down what you're looking for.

If, for example, we were to use the words pacific plans in our search, we would get more than 15,000,000 hits.

The first result would be the Pacific Plans website. But what if you want to find out what other people are saying about Pacific Plans and don't want to go through US Plans for the South Pacific during World War II? Putting quotation marks around "pacific plans" will lead to more than 7,000 hits.

Much better but you still get results for companies like Air Pacific, Cathay Pacific and Union Pacific, whose names tend to be followed by the word plans in news stories. Clicking on the option for "pages from Philippines" (note: this is available only if you're using Google Philippines) will reduce the hits to about 500 and eliminate results like those mentioned above.

If you're not really interested in the more formal results, try adding -inc (meaning NOT those that have the word inc, e.g., Pacific Plans, Inc.) and hits will go down further to around 100.

But if you're really just looking for the blog run by disenfranchised planholders of Pacific Plans, just add the word blog to "pacific plans" and you get about 30 hits.

But wait, blogs pointing to the website you're looking for are shown but not Pacific Plans - Broken Dreams. What's going on? Could it be that there's a conspiracy to prevent those looking for the blog from finding it?! Calm down. It's very likely that the blog's owners just forgot to indicate "Philippines" as their location in their user profile. And that's why the blog doesn't show up: because you're looking only for "pages from Philippines." But it does show up as the fifth hit (along with about 200 others) if you click on "the web."

To summarize,

  1. use "quotation marks" when you're looking for a "specific phrase,"
  2. add a minus sign (-) if you want to exclude a word (e.g., rizal -jose leads directly to Rizal Library),
  3. click on "pages from Philippines" if you want to limit results to Filipino websites, and
  4. check out the Google Help: Cheat Sheet for more tips.

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