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Using Google

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. It is the entry point to most Follow the Money research you will do.

Refining Google searches

The most important thing you will do is search basic terms in Google. To do an effective search you will need to refine it. These are the most common ways to refine your search:

“Quotation marks”:

Putting quotation marks around a term or name ensures that you are searching for exact terms within the quotes in the exact given order.

For example: “TotalEnergies SE” will ensure a more specific search than simply searching for Total or Total Energies.

Note: Sometimes news articles will leave out suffixes like Inc. or Corp. or SE. Using just the company’s name in quotation marks like this “TotalEnergies” could return more information.


Using the capitalized AND in English (regardless of the language you are searching in) allows you to search for two or more words appearing in the same source.

For example: “TotalEnergi es SE” AND “project finance” will return sources which include both of these terms.


This search will provide results related to A or B, or both.

For example: “project finance” OR “loan”

This can be combined with an AND search:

“TotalEnergies SE” AND “project finance” OR “loan”

Searching in other languages

Harmful investments often involve international actors from a wide range of countries. Often key information is published only in the local language where a company is based.

Even if you don’t speak that language you can use the Google Chrome browser to automatically translate web pages into the language you speak.

You can install an extension for Google Chrome to view translations more seamlessly. It can be downloaded here.

To find these web pages, first use Google Translate or other translation programs like DeepL to translate your search terms.

For example:

TotalEnergies SE is a French company. While there is a great deal of information available in English it may be worth translating your search to see if there is information in French you have missed.

“TotalEnergies SE” AND “project finance” OR “loan” would become “TotalEnergies SE” AND “financement de projet” OR “prêt”

Website searching

Google allows you to search a specific website for information that is relevant to your search. To
do this follow this formula: search term

For example: loan

Remember not to leave a space after the colon.

Searching by file type

In researching investment chains we are often looking for specific documents. These documents, if they are put online, are often uploaded in a PDF format. To search only pdf documents on the web use the format:

search terms filetype:pdf

“TotalEnergies SE” annual report filetype:pdf

This search will return pdf documents that contain the search terms you have listed.

If you are looking for a document from a particular year add it as a search term.

“TotalEnergies SE” annual report 2021 filetype:pdf

Other common types of documents are How to include them in your search
Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx) filetype:ppt
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) filetype:doc
Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx) filetype:xls


To find information on many publicly traded companies use this formula:

stocks “company name”

For example:

stocks “TotalEnergies SE”

This can be useful when trying to determine the ticker symbol for a company or figure out what stock exchanges it is traded on.

If nothing comes up do not assume it is not publicly traded. Google indexes stocks from larger exchanges but some smaller exchanges are missed. You may also be searching for a subsidiary of a publicly traded company.


Using cache allows you to find a cached version of a page which can allow you to access a website if it is no longer available.

Google Alerts

To track developments on a project use Google Alerts. Using the search methods described above you can ask Google to email you newly published information on the search terms you are interested in.


Here are some other useful resources that you can use to improve your Google searching skills.

Google News Initiative – Advanced search

Google Dork cheatsheet

Moz Google Search Operators