Advanced Google search methods for investigative reporting

By Barbara Leader
bleader@thenewsstar.com 

Fast-talking Google search guru Dan Russell presented 160 slides in 60 minutes to a room full of journalists hungry for advanced search tips at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference Friday in Boston. 

“Once you know these tricks, you can solve problems that look impossible,” Russell said.“Part of being a good researcher is knowing what tools are available.”

Throughout the presentation, Russell provided tips including using advanced searches, Google maps, Google images, and search refining techniques.

One fundamental tip he stressed was the importance of using Control F to locate words in electronic documents or proving they don’t appear.

“People who don’t know this are 12 percent slower in their searches,” Russell  said.  

Part of effective searching, he said, may involve breaking long-standing habits.

 “Most of what you know about Boolean (search) is wrong. It was wrong 10 years ago and it’s still wrong today,” he said.

Russel l paused only three or four times during his presentation to answer questions from the audience.

“Don’t use the word “and”, it doesn’t do anything,” he said. “Double quotes are your friend.”    

Russell’s presentation included a tip sheet for advanced searches which included ways to search only specific sites , find certain types of files, locate words in the title of a webpage, and seek out combinations of words.

The tipsheet can be found at www.ire.org.    

Additional help can be found at www.google.com/basic-search-help.

More than 1 billion Google searches are performed daily across the world.