Infographics Research: Refine Your Google Searches

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Google is an excellent tool for conducting research for your infographics. To yield even better results, you can use the filter options Google gives you on your search results page to search for images, include maps, and find items available for sale. Additionally, you can employ specialized search terms to refine your searches and further narrow your results.

This figure shows the toolbar on the Google search results page with the following filter options:

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  • Web: This shows you all the results Google was able to find on the Web.

  • Images: Shows pages of only images from your regular search, including photos and logos.

    Note: Google has a “usage rights” feature that shows you whether images are acceptable for public use or protected by copyright. Use it carefully — sometimes, an image that Google thinks is appropriate for reuse was actually stolen or misrepresented.

  • Maps: With this filter selected, Google will place your search results on one of its satellite maps. For example, searching for preschools in a particular city will show several preschools on the map.

  • Shopping: This organizes search results in terms of retail possibilities. For example, a search for used Mac computers will show a list of various products, with links to the websites where you can purchase them. If you were trying to research used Mac computers, but not purchase one, this type of search probably wouldn’t be your best bet.

  • Books: This filter turns up a list of books about your topic, which could be very helpful if you’re working on a long-term project and have time to buy and read a book.

  • More: This drop-down menu lets you choose from a few other filters, including apps, videos, news coverage, and more.

  • Search Tools: Within any search results page, Search Tools further refines your search results by additional factors. For example, while using the Images filter, clicking Search Tools provides choices that let you specify the size and color of the images you want to see.

At the top right of the Google search results page, you’ll see a few additional features, which let you set some privacy and web safety standards. Spend a little time experimenting with these, and you’ll find the setup that works best for your needs.

Google is so vast that it can be very helpful to learn a few tricks to target your searches. By adding some select phrases or commands, you can help Google narrow the results so that you’re more likely to get exactly the information you need.

  • Search for an exact phrase. Put quotation marks around your terms to search for that exact phrase with the words in that exact order. So, if you’re researching the murder rate in Hawaii, typing “‘murder rate’ Hawaii” may be even better than “murder rate Hawaii.”

  • Exclude or include words in your search. If you want a specific term omitted from your search results, place a hyphen (-) in front of it. If you want Google to find a particular word that it normally ignores — such as and or the — put it in quotation marks, such as murder rate Hawaii “and” 1985.

    You may already be familiar with some advanced Google Search options, but if you happen to be a novice, here are a couple of useful options.

Searching within a time range

Follow these steps to search within a defined time period.

  1. Do a simple search for whatever you’re looking for.

    Just below the search box, on the page showing your results, is the Google search toolbar (refer to previous figure).

  2. Click the Search Tools option (at the far right of the toolbar) to see additional options.

    The first of the additional options is Any Time, with a down arrow indicating a drop-down menu.

  3. Click to open the Any Time drop-down menu and choose a time period to limit your search.

    Google offers various options, including Past 24 Hours and Past Year. Or you can choose the Custom Range option and set a custom time frame.

The refined search results appear automatically after you choose an option.

Searching for page types

Yet another type of advanced search allows you to search for specific types of pages. For instance, you can search just U.S. patents or limit your results to scholarly papers on a topic. You can find all these search options, as shown in the following figure, on the Google Products page under the Specialized Search heading.

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To reach the Products page, click the About Google link at the bottom of any Google page and then click the Products link.