Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

INF2325: Launching Information Ventures

A course guide and workshop materials for market research

Use Google the smart way

We all love Google.  It's easy, free, and can yield lots of relevant results.

Remember, however, that Google is not a perfect search tool.  It offers:

  • limited filters for refining your search, in comparison with most databases
  • no control for quality, e.g. peer review filter
  • limited ability to remove duplicate content
  • can't surface content tied to a (free) account or registration or located behind a paywall

Your venture should be using Google AND a selection of library databases to ensure a comprehensive search.

Image CC0 Public Domain, free for commercial use, no attribution required

Mind your language

Databases are very literal - input determines output

Before you search, generate a list of keywords for the key concepts associated with your startup that you are researching.

Think about the following when developing a list of keywords to use in your search strategy:

  • Synonyms: alternatives to your key concept term(s) (e.g. 3D printing = additive manufacturing)
  • Acronyms: abbreviations (e.g. CRM = customer relationship management)
  • Related concepts: broader terms. narrower terms, related terms (e.g. renewable energy, solar energy, photovoltaic solar energy, alternative energy, green energy, photovoltaics, PV, converters, generators)
  • Word variants (e.g. singular vs plural)
  • Spelling (e.g. CDN vs US, hyphenation) (e.g. 3-D vs 3D)

As you search, scan your search results for additional keywords for your list. Get in the habit of taking these keywords down so you can retrace and adjust your search strategy as you learn more.


Common keywords in market research

This is a list of keywords associated with market research.  While not comprehensive, it can be used to help you develop a search strategy.

  • Competitor(s)
  • Major players, key players, big players
  • Forecast(s)/forecast(s), outlook, projected/projection(s), prediction(s)/predicted, trends, etc.
  • Market share(s), share of market, market penetration, market potential, market size, market growth, CAGR, etc.
  • Sales, revenue(s)
  • Volume, units
  • Sold, shipped/shipments, trade/traded, export(s)/exported, import(s)/imported
  • Customer or user attitude(s), behavior(s), sentiment(s), preference(s)/preferred/prefer(s), adoption/adopt(s)/adopted, retention/retain(s)/retained, churn, acquisition/acquires/acquired
  • Price/pricing, expenditure(s), cost(s), spending, premium(s), freemium
  • Time, rental(s), subscriptions, visits, use, business model(s)
  • Value(s)/valued, valuation(s)
  • Market segment(s), customer segment(s), segmentation

Customize your search question

How does Google work?

Google works by indexing full text for keywords and ranking results. Its proprietary search engine lists the pages that contain the same keywords that were in the user's search term. Google selects search results by prioritizing webpages with relevant page titles and headers, as well as frequency of clicks on webpages. Source: Google Inside Search

Note: The focus is on quantity, but remember, the largest number of results doesn’t guarantee the most relevant search results.

Note: Google can't index anything behind a firewall. So proprietary content such as market research or subscription journals won't be found in a Google web search. 

Building an effective search

Combine search terms (or keywords) rather than using questions: The question format sometimes works for Google, but it can pull in too many results. Instead focus on building a search using the following tips for Google and many other research databases (e.g., Scopus, Compendex). 

Using the Advanced Search & search operators in Google

Look at the "Get More Out of Google" infographic** for the full details
Google Advanced Search:
  1. Combine keywords with connectors

    • OR: pull results that include either word [Regulations OR laws OR compliance]

    • NOT / - (For Google use the minus symbol - in front of the term): ignore results with that word [driving  -school]

  2. Use quotation marks ( " " ) to limit search to specific words or phrases

    • Use around a phrase or concept of two or more words ["trucking industry", "monitor drowsy driving"]

    • Allows you to avoid similar terms or derived words and target the exact wording you need

    • Be aware that it can mean that you miss out related terms that the search function might identify so you might want to submit search with and without quotation marks 

  3. Search a specific website rather than the entire Internet using site:

    • ​​Get results from certain sites or domains [compliance]

    • To get results from multiple sites or domains, combine with OR ["monitoring technology" OR]

  4. Search for specific types of websites

    • ​Use different domains to narrow down your search to different types of content [compliance OR]

    • (Canada gov), .gov (Government), .edu (Educational organization), .org (Non-profit organization)  

  5. Search for terms in location on webpage (intitle:)

    • Use intitle:term to restrict search results to documents containing term in the title.

    • For example, [trucking intitle:compliance] will return documents that mention the word “compliance” in their titles, and mention the word “trucking” anywhere in the document (title or not).

  6. Search for particular types of documents (filetype:)

    • Specify the file type that your require (.xlsx, .pptx, etc.) and be sure that this is no space between colon and file type, [filetype:pdf, OR filetype:doc]

More Google search operators

Filter your results

  1. Click on "Tools" and click on "Any Times" to open drop down menu options (e.g. past year, custom range)

Other search tips

  1. What kind of information can you pull from the resources to continue your research? 

    • ​​​​Look for academic articles, companies websites (potential competitors), professional associations, data and statistics, etc. Also look for gaps or areas that your company could target. 

  2. What kind of information are you going to need?

    • You will need to use particular types of resources for different kinds of information (e.g., demographics, company info, etc.) 

  3. Critically evaluate your results.

    • Is it current? Is it accurate? Is it relevant? Is it original?

**Source: Hack College. (2011, November 23). Infographic: Get more out of Google [Infographic]. Retrieved from

Don't give up!

If your team's research has identified reports that look useful but which are not available through a library database or on the public Web, don't stop there.

You may be able to find a summary or key statistics in a press release or article linked to the release or publication of the reports.  Try Factiva or Business Source Premier to start.