Whether it be the symptoms of that weird rash on your elbow, healthy ideas for kids’ lunches, or the best local biking trails…it’s highly likely you’ve recently searched the web for something health-related.
Google is usually intuitive enough to guess at what you are searching so typing any stream of consciousness will turn up plenty of results. But sometimes you get stuck and really need to narrow your results down to the most relevant. The following strategies can be used to get the most out of your search and uncover that elusive piece of health information...
- Use quotation marks (") to find an exact phrase: This option is useful when searching for a song you want to add to your workout playlist. You know some of the lyrics but not the actual title. That’s right…“you’re bulletproof, nothing to lose”…
- Use a dash (-) before search terms to eliminate results: For example, if you want to research health insurance options but not anything related to Medicare, type health insurance –Medicare into the search bar.
- Search within a specific site: Maybe you are looking for all mentions of the flu within the CDC’s website. Type flu site:CDC.gov to return only results about the flu within the CDC. You can also do a more general search within top-level domains like .org or .edu, .gov. For that kind search, type in the search term first; in this case flu and then site:.edu or any of the other extensions. [flu site: edu] On the other hand, if you want to exclude results from a specific site, combine site search with the dash. For example, you’d like more information on the flu but you don’t want to use any information from Wikipedia: Type flu site: -wikipedia.org
- Search by file property: Perhaps you want a nice print-out of nutrition tips to share with a class or group. To find just pdf files that include the term “nutrition tips”, type: “nutrition tips” filetype:pdf. For Word docs, use the extension name doc or docx and for Excel, use xls or xlsx.
- Use the operator OR to expand your search results: If at first, you don't get the results you want, try adding more terms to your search by using the Operator “OR". Let’s do a search for Chester County, Pennsylvania biking or hiking by typing in: hiking OR biking Chester county pa. This will retrieve all results containing one word, the other, or both. For this search to work, OR must be capitalized.
- Find similar words with ~ A tilde sign (~) immediately in front of a word returns results for that word as well as its synonyms. A search for ~exercise plans includes results for fitness, bodybuilding and workout plans as well.
- Try a wildcard search (*): Google attempts to fill in the blank with the best match wherever there is an asterisk. Tou can substitute the * for one or more unknown words. A sample health-related search with the wildcard could be a general lookup of the best healthy “stuff” of the year. Simply type best healthy * and hit enter.