The Many Faces of Google

Contents | Query Input | Understanding Results | Special Tools | Links
Entering Queries - Selecting Search Terms - Interpreting Queries - Crafting Queries - Google's  Advanced Search Form - More on Sharpening Queries - Using Search Operators (Advanced)

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More on Sharpening Your Queries

Tips on Refining Your Queries

Refining a query means changing or adding to the set of search terms to do a better job of returning the pages you're seeking. Successful researchers frequently enter several queries to find what they're seeking.

The search boxes at the top and bottom of the results page show the query for the current results page. If the query uses special operators that you entered either directly or indirectly through the advanced search form, they will appear in the search box as well. To refine your query, edit what's in the search box and then click the "Google Search" button or hit the ENTER key.

Let's look at a few examples.

Additional Search Tools

" Web Alerts: If you like keeping up with the latest updates and new web pages, consider setting up one or more Google Web Alerts. After you've set up a Web Alert, Google finds and delivers links to web pages via e-mail either once a day or once a week.

Screen shot of web alert.

Examples of some uses of Google Web Alerts:

" Google Ultimate Interface: If you want to specify what you're looking for with more precision than Google's Advanced Search form offers, try out the Google Ultimate Interface, a third-party application available at

With the Ultimate Interface you can:

Screen shot of the Google Ultimate Interface.

Note: Michael Fagan developed Google Ultimate Interface when he was a teenager.

" Soople: If you're not sure of all the types of information that you can search for with Google, check out Soople,

Screen shot of Soople, which shows many of the different types of searches Google supports.

Many of the capabilities included in Soople are described in Part II: Understanding Search Results and Part III: Special Tools.

For additional information on how to use Advanced Search, visit

Anatomy of a Web Address

A web address takes the form of a URL (pronounced "you are ell" which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, often followed by additional directory, subdirectory and file names.

Consider the web address of the Ewing SeniorNet Computer Literacy Center ( The is the URL. The web address of the course outline for the digital photography course taught at the center is This address contains information on the directory, subdirectory, etc. in which the page can be found.

Here's what it all means:

http   transfer protocol (type of information being transferred)    site name
ewingsnet    second-level domain name
com    top-level domain name
documents   directory name
CourseOutlines    sub-directory name
DigitalPhotography    file name
pdf    file type

Here's a list of some common top-level domain names:

.edu    educational site (usually a university or college)
.com    commercial business site
.gov    U.S. government/non-military site
.mil    U.S. military sites or agencies
.net    networks, Internet service providers, organizations 
.org    U.S. non-profit organizations and others

Because the Internet was created in the United States, "US" was not originally assigned to U.S. domain names; however, it's used to designate American state and local government hosts, including many public schools, and commercial entities, e.g., The domain .pa represents Panama, unless it's followed by .us, in which case it represents Pennsylvania.

  State  Pennsylvania  New Jersey  Texas

Other countries have their own two letter codes as the top level of their domain names.

.ca    Canada  
.de    Germany  
.dk    Denmark  
.jp    Japan  
.il    Israel  
.uk    United Kingdom  
.za    South Africa  

For more information about domains and a complete listing of them, check out

To limit results to a single site or domain, specify the site name (e.g., or or a top-level domain name (e.g., .com or .edu) in Google's domain selector.


This problem set is designed to give you practice with specifying more precisely what you're seeking by using the Advanced Search form. For hints and answers to selected problems, see the Solutions page in the Appendix.

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