How to Google

08.28.19 // Graham McConnell

How can you use Google Search to get the results you are looking for?

I am an SEO, I take search for granted. But whether it’s my parents, my friends, my wife or even the Paid Social department, I’ve realized people don’t search in the nominal way (that’s the nice way of putting it, these people are idiots, sorry honey).

What I think, or Google thinks people are searching for, doesn’t always mean that’s what these commoners are actually searching for and because of that, the results aren’t ideal for them. Semantic search is only so good.  Google is for broad use for the most part, so anything after that requires a more technical approach to searching requires a particular set of skills.

The biggest culprit: Specificity

Most web pages are designed to bring in as much traffic as they can. Because of this, the primary topic/phrase/keyword is broader than most specific queries that relate to them. It doesn’t exclude that page from ranking for specific phrases, but many times they aren’t targeted. Sometimes being specific can work out but it’s rare.

Google even provides a guideline for searching, “No matter what you’re looking for, start with a simple search… You can always add a few descriptive words if necessary.”

Tips for using Google


Don’t overthink it, make it broad and simple so you don’t eliminate results. This isn’t the same as lowest common denominator by any means. The keeping it simple part is for Google, but yes you’re still the stupid part.

How to be specific

If you are going for something specific, use quotes around the phrase, “example.” This tells Google to search for that exact phrase. This will eliminate a lot of results, so make sure that the phrase within the quotes itself isn’t too specific. Think, “white horses running” vs. “white horses running in a field.”

Hyphens make for subtraction

Use these to remove a word from the results. This is especially useful for acronyms that may have multiple meanings. This is really only going to be used when it is obvious. You cannot eliminate certain results unless you know the phrase you are using has variation. For example, the use of the term ‘apollo’ could bring up the Greek god of the sun, the apollo space missions or even a company name. If you only want the company but aren’t sure how to search for what they do, like “apollo marketing company” a good way to filter results would be to add (but really it’s subtract you know) -missions or -god. That way there is less sifting through.

O R they?

Use “or” for searching two different phrases at once. ‘Timbers or Blazers’ will display different results than just ‘timbers blazers.’ I’ll be honest, I’ve never used this, but if you aren’t good at searching to begin with, god help you when trying this method.


What would web pages do? From Google; “instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that’s the word a medical site would use.” This is the biggest tip. You’re dumb, most websites are smart, think like they would to rank better in Google and it will go a long way to finding useful results.

For more tips, go straight to the horse’s mouth (and if you don’t know how to search, don’t search horse’s mouth thinking you’ll find the answers, just click the link, idiot).

About Graham McConnell

Graham is a SEO Supervisor here at Obility and has been with us since October 2014. He was awarded the prestigious Obility MVP 2017 award for his incredible contributions and positive attitude. Graham is also the office's unofficial movie/music guru with his endless knowledge and supply of entertainment. View all Graham McConnell’s posts >