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You Google Wrong

Think you're a master Googler? Taking Google's Power Searching class will probably make you feel like you're not.

One of the first things you learn in Google's Power Searching class is that if you know about the magic of CTRL+F then you are in the top 10 percent of all searchers. That made someone like me, who uses the word find function on the regular a little cocky about my searching skills, as I embarked on Google's free online class which teaches you how to type words into a search box. The thing I didn't realize, however is that it takes a lot of other, more obscure skills to move into the top 1 percent of savviest Googlers.

If you don't know the CTRL+F skill, learn it now. It's easy: Pressing CTRL on Windows or ⌘ on Macs and F at the same will prompt you to enter a word or series of words that your browser will then highlight on that page.

OK. So you're now in the top 10 percent of searchers. On to the harder stuff.

Every few months, Google offers its Power Searching with Google class, which consists of six 50-minute classes split up into 5 to 10 minute YouTube clips. Each and every lesson is taught by Google research scientist (and Search expert) Dan Russell from the same couch, with the same Macbook, wearing the same light blue buttoned down shirt. It's monotony just like a real-live class! Also, like a true place of learning, there is homework. An activity follows each clip, going over (and testing) the information just discussed. There is also a mid-term and a final, which are graded. (If the prospect of limitless shame at not passing your Google Search final doesn't motivate you, nothing will.) And, in order to get a certificate (to hang on your Facebook wall?), you must complete these assessments on time.

Someone who searches all day every day might call this overkill for a skill this person already possesses. I mean, searching for stuff is what I do for my job all day long. CTRL+F is an amateur move. If that qualifies as something that puts someone in the 90th percentile, then how hard could the rest of the class be? But, I soon learned Googling isn't just a skill, it's a series of skills. You can choose to just type into that empty box. Or you can take this class and join the 1 percent of Google Searchers. But beware: getting into this elite of searchers involves watching some very dry YouTube videos. Since I've already spent the time with professor Russell and have weeks of Googling with my new tricks behind me, let me give you my little cheat sheet.

Site Search

The Problem This Fixes: Often I find myself looking for a particular article from a particular blog or website but I can't remember the headline. Or, other times I want to see all the things a certain site wrote about a certain thing.

How It Works: You can limit a search to one website using a site search. It's very easy. Say I want to find articles about a topic just from theatlanticwire.com. In the Google box, I type "site:Theatlanticwire.com" followed by my search term. That will surface only results from the websites www.theatlanticwire.com, as you can see below.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

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