Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Google-Fu: Tips for Searching Google like a Librarian

I had the pleasure to attend the Maine Academic Library Day this past Friday at Colby College. The keynote speaker was Daniel M. Russell, a Google exec in charge of search quality and user happiness. (Can I just say that Google has some pretty cool titles? 'Cause they do.) Anyway, I've sat through my fair share of keynotes over the years, and this one really stood out from the crowd. He went over all sorts of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Googling. I will say that most of what he went over was review for me, but it was a really healthy review. (In looking over his web site, he had a post on the Einstellung Effect which I thought was fantastic. So many times as a researcher, it's too easy to get used to using one tool. When  you get really good with a hammer, everything you look at starts looking like a nail. Got a board that needs trimming? Just beat the heck out of it, and eventually it'll be the right length. Get the picture? Being reminded from time to time about the various research tools available to you can be really beneficial.)


Another cool thing I discovered--remember that post I did last week on agoogleaday? Dan was one of the people who set that in motion and got it running. It's not often I do a blog post about something cool online, and then I meet one of the people who contributed directly to that cool thing. Dan was nice enough to leave us with some links to training materials Google uses to teach people how to search more effectively, and since I'm a nice guy, I'm here to share those links with you.

First, a disclaimer. A lot of you are no doubt rolling your eyes, offended that anyone might think you don't know how to do something as simple as *use Google*. But you know what? I'm willing to bet you don't. I don't mean to be offensive, but if I learned a thing or two from this, I'm willing to bet good money you will, too. And don't skip the easy stuff. Don't rush off to "Advanced Lessons," assuming you're good to go on all the basics. One of Dan's points was that there are many basic tricks that the vast majority of people don't know about. For example, to find something on a web page, you can just hit Control + F, which brings up a "find" window in your browser. According to Google's studies, 90% of users don't know they can do that, so when they go to a search result, they end up scanning the page, looking for the word they searched for.

So don't be in a rush. You probably use Google every day. Taking a bit of time to learn how to use it wisely is time well spent. Okay? Here are the links, direct from Dan and endorsed by yours truly:

9 lessons for teaching search: http://www.google.com/educators/p_websearch.html

Google site with a LOT more materials for teaching search skills: https://sites.google.com/site/gwebsearcheducation/ )

Webinars: https://sites.google.com/site/gwebsearcheducation/webinars

And... you can sign up to get intermittent email about teaching
search: http://groups.google.com/group/google-search-education-k-12/subscribe

(And Dan, since I know you have a Google Alert set up on your name, and I'm betting you might end up reading this, can I just say thanks for the great presentation? Really made the day worthwhile for me.)


  1. Thanks so much for this post! I'm getting ready for a faculty workshop teaching how to Google Like a Librarian (and I need to brush up on my Google-fu!)

  2. Incredible tips ! Thanks so much for useful post. I really learn the few things from your post. Its great google fu tips for searching google.