Professional and Analytical Skills

Search 101

Search Methodology for Open-Source Intelligence

Instructor: Kirby Plessas

Who Is This Course For?

Search 101 is designed to help anyone who performs internet research to uncover information about people, companies, or topics. The first section of the course offers tips and techniques for more effectively using the Google search engine–or any search engine–to progress from slow, basic queries to efficient, advanced searches, regardless of the student’s area of specialization. Students will gain valuable skills such as using Google to search specific domains, individual websites, or preferred file types. The second section of the course builds on the first and covers strategies for searching social media. Students will learn how to exploit social media platforms with or without an account, how to create a research account, and how to search emerging platforms.

The instructor, Kirby Plessas, has over 20 years of experience as an analyst, analytic manager, and trainer of analysts. Drawing from the methodology of Open Source Intelligence, Kirby shares her strategies for overcoming challenges to the collection and analysis of publicly available data.



If you use Google to find information, you’re probably aware there are shortcuts and ways to influence the volume and accuracy of results from a search query. Boolean expressions, search operators, and Google Dorks increase the focus of research, whether its subject is academic or designed to produce intelligence. This course will fundamentally improve your search accuracy and efficiency and then show you how to apply these skills to exploiting the treasure trove of unique information social media contains.



In about two hours this course delivers nearly 20 years’ worth of wisdom with steps you can take now to be seen by your boss, peers, and customers as a more professional and effective analyst. Although the course is ideal for a new analyst, it has something valuable to offer more experienced analysts who have not routinely applied Google Search and social media exploitation techniques to reveal critical information.

Going Beyond Keyword Searches

Knowing how to effectively use keywords will make your searches better, but understanding how to use a search engine’s advanced features in combination with Boolean expressions can upgrade your search skills to surgical efficiency.

What You'll Get

Video Content




Course Transcript


What You'll Learn

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How search engines work
  • The differences in search engine capabilities
  • How to find new search engines
  • How to use Boolean expressions
  • How to use Google specific advanced search techniques
  • How to craft strong searches
  • How to build a Google Programmable Search Engine 

Course Content


  • Course Content Overview
  • Why This Course?
  • About Your Instructor

Google Search Techniques

  • Module 1: Introduction to Search Engines

  • Module 2: Basic Boolean Search

  • Module 3: Advanced Google Search Operators

  • Module 4: Searching Websites

  • Module 5: Crafting Strong Searches

  • Module 6: Building a Custom Search Engine

Social Media Search Techniques

  • Module 7: Social Media Life Cycle

  • Module 8: Basic Social Media Search Strategy (Without an Account)

  • Module 9: Creating Research Accounts

  • Module 10: Searching Social Media (With an Account)

  • Module 11: Searching Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok

  • Module 12: Searching Emerging Social Media

Meet Your Instructor

Kirby Plessas

Kirby Plessas is founder and CEO of Plessas Experts Network, Inc. (PEN). Established in 2008, PEN is an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) internet technology and information extraction company that specializes in training and research and provides consultation to private industry and the public sector.

Prior to founding PEN, Kirby was instrumental to the creation and institution of Open Source Works, an innovation center for conducting OSINT for the Central Intelligence Agency, where she went on to be engaged for 7 years as an independent contractor with responsibility in identifying and procuring technology, training, and analysis of internet technologies (social media and other) as well as working on specific teams to produce actionable intelligence.

A service-disabled veteran, Kirby established herself as one of the foremost tradecraft experts in OSINT through her career in Military Intelligence as an Arabic linguist supporting the Department of Defense and the Defense Intelligence Agency. In great tribute to her long list of personal and corporate accomplishments in her field, the Department of Homeland Security declared Kirby Plessas an OSINT Technical Expert.

You can learn more about Kirby at

Kirby Plessas

Try a sample lecture

Basic Boolean Search

This lecture is part of the JTG Proficiency 1 course Search 101: Search Methodology for Open-Source Intelligence by Kirby Plessas.