Knight Center
Knight Center


How to make the best of Google with advanced searches, Trends and Public Data

By Caroline Damasceno*

Google is not limited to simple searches. Many users do not take advantages of the full potential of Google's applications and, for journalists, knowing how to use them is especially important.

Guilherme dos Anjos is head of accounts at Google in Brazil and his wife is a journalist. The couple knows how these advanced tools can aid in the investigation of a story. In the World Conference of Journalism and Investigative Reporting, an event that took place from Oct. 12-15 in Rio de Janeiro, Dos Anjos showed how to improve searches through the use of filters and two little-known tools: Google Trends and Google Public Data. Below are some of their tips:

Search Filters

A simple Google search can filter results by country, language, publication date and city. The user can also choose to tell the search engine to show all available results or just the pages that they have visited before. The same goes for pages that the user has never visited or "Verbatim" results that show only pages that contain the search terms exactly as the user wrote them, with all of the words together in the same order.


Advanced searches and operators:

Google has search operators that can refine a user's search in an efficient and practical manner.

Here are some examples:


Search for the exact word or phrase

Use quotes: If you search "Global Journalism and Investigative Reporting Conference", Google will only show the results that contain exactly that term and will not show you results that contain those four words in other contexts.


Eliminate a word

Add a minus sign (-): If you search Journalism Conference -ABRAJI, Google will show the results of conferences where ABRAJI has not been mentioned.


Search only one site or domain

If you search, you will only receive results in the pages that are housed in ABRAJI's site.


Search types of documents

If you search filetype:xls, you will only receive results with content with the file ending xls.

Take a look at all of Google's search tricks. You can perform some through an advanced search without using operators or you can consult the help page.

Image searches:

You can filter the results of an image search in Google by its dimensions, color, type (photo or illustration, for example) or the publication date. When a user selects a result, they have the option to visit the original site of the image and obtain more information about it.


Many still don't know that they can use an image as a search term. When the user sends an image to Google Images, the results can come back with suggestions about the name of the image, pages that contain it, or similar images with different sizes. The only requirement for your search is that the image exists in some other web page. You can even add keywords or search operators to make the search easier.

Google Trends

Google Trends allows you to track the popularity of a term throughout a specific period of time and compare it to the popularity of other terms. The results can be filtered by country, date, category and Google product (Google Images and YouTube, for example).


Google Trends can also show the key terms searched in Google during a certain period of time.

Google Public Data

The little-known Google Public Data can help you display statistics from the databases of organizations like the World Bank and Eurostate in graphic form. This information can be compared and analyzed using various filters that the application offers.



*Caroline Damasceno is a journalism student in her foruth year at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

This article was originally published on the official website of the World Conference of Investigative Journalism



Subscribe to our weekly newsletter "Journalism in the Americas"

Boletim Semanal (Português)
Boletín Semanal (Español)
Weekly Newsletter (English)
Marketing by ActiveCampaign