How to find what you want on Google News

Posted on June 9, 2016

 

Statistics show that Google churns through more than 3.5bn searches per day, and its homepage and browser-based search box are sights that we’re all familiar with, but what we can find with Google goes way beyond simply searching for a website.

Once we’re on Google’s results, we can refine our search further with the tabs it gives us just below the search box.

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‘Images’ is one with which most of us are familiar, and is perhaps the one that gives the most marked difference to a general search. For example, a search for ‘weather’ in Google’s standard search box will give you the current weather, along with some sites on which you can find further relevant information. On an image search though, all we get is pictures of suns, clouds, raindrops, lightning bolts and other items that constitute ‘weather’, so no information at all, but lots of pretty pictures to look at.

Perhaps a tool with which people are less familiar is the ‘News’ option, which lets you look at recently reported news items about your search term. This is a much less clunky alternative to searching for something like “news stories about the weather this week”, and it’s the perfect source if you’re writing news or even feature articles yourself, as it shows you what other sources have recently been saying about the subject in question.

Right time, right place

Simply by typing your search term, like ‘weather’, into Google News, you might not get exactly what you want, but clicking the ‘Search tools’ button offers you a few handy features that can help you pinpoint the stories you need:

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  • The web – use this dropdown box to choose whether you want your results from everywhere in the world, or just the UK
  • All news – this allows you to refine your results to blogs alone
  • Recent – using this, you can look for results from the last hour, day, week, month or year, or pick a date range of your own. For something like ‘weather’, we probably want it as up to date as possible, but a search for something like ‘Skelmersdale ice cream shops’ may be a bit more niche and need a wider date range
  • Sorted by relevance – change it to ‘Sorted by date’ if you want the newest stuff first

Negative searches

The term ‘negative search’ might make you think of searching for misery, pessimism and depression, but actually all it means is searching for what you don’t want to find. That may sound ridiculous – if you don’t want it, why would you search for it? Well, there are times when it’s not easy to filter your search results and weed out the irrelevant suggestions that come up for your search term.

For example, let’s say that you love to read, and are looking for recent news and reports about reading, so you head to Google News and simply search ‘reading’. Here’s what you get:

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You see the problem? All of these results are to do with the Berkshire town of Reading, not the present participle form of the verb meaning to absorb written words. As fascinating as Jaap Stam, food festivals and Lloyds Bank may be, they are of no relevance to the love of literature.

What we can do, therefore, is tell Google what results we don’t want to see, and put a minus sign before it. Let’s try searching for “reading -berkshire”, so we’re hinting at Google that the town of Reading isn’t what we’re looking for.

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Much better – the top four results are all about reading, not Reading. The fifth is a Reading FC story, so we can’t totally refine the search to exactly what we want, but the four below it were all about reading. Thanks to the little minus sign, there’s a lot more wheat than chaff here now.

After a little experimenting with Google News, you’ll soon find it a valuable resource for content development.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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