How to Use Google Search More Efficiently

September 19, 2016 Meeting:  Derek Burrows, Facilitator

 

Here are some tips to use Google search more efficiently.

  1. Use the tabs

The first tip is to use the tabs in Google search. On the top of every search are a number of tabs. Usually you’ll see Web, Image, News, and More. Using these tabs, you can help define what kind of search you need to do. If you need images, use the Image tab. If you are looking for a recent news article, use the News tab. It’s rudimentary and most people use the tabs already. If you are not, then it’s highly recommended to get associated with them. They can cut search times dramatically if utilized properly.

 

  1. Use quotes

When searching for something specific, try using quotes to minimize the guesswork for Google search. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole phrase. For instance, if you search for Puppy Dog Sweaters, the engine will search for content that contains those three words in any order. However, if you search “Puppy Dog Sweaters”, it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information that may be buried under other content if not sorted out correctly.

  1. Use a hyphen to exclude words

Sometimes you may find yourself searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning. An example is Mustang. When you Google search for Mustang, you may get results for both the car made by Ford or the horse. If you want to cut one out, use the hyphen to tell the engine to ignore content with one of the other. See the example below.

  • Mustang -cars

This tells the search engine to search for mustangs but to remove any results that have the word “car” in it. It can be wildly helpful when finding information about something without getting information about something else.

  1. Use a colon to search specific sites

There may be an instance where you need to Google search for articles or content on a certain website. The syntax is very simple and we’ll show you below.

  • Sidney Crosby site:nhl.com

This will search for all content about famous hockey player Sidney Crosby, but only on NHL.com. All other search results will be removed. If you need to find specific content on a particular site, this is the shortcut you can use.

  1. Find a page that links to another page

This Google search tip is a little obscure. Instead of searching for a specific page, you’re searching for a page that links to a specific page. Think about it this way. If you want to see who cited a New York Times article on their site, you would use this trick to find all the sites that link to it. The syntax is below.

That will return all pages that link to the New York Times official website. The URL on the right side can be practically anything. Be aware, though, that the more specific it is, the fewer results you’ll get. We know not a lot of people will likely use this Google search trick, but it could be very useful for some.

  1. Use the asterisk wildcard

The asterisk wildcard is one of the most useful ones on the list. Here’s how it works. When you use an asterisk in a search term on Google search, it will leave a placeholder that may be automatically filled by the search engine later. This is a brilliant way to find song lyrics if you don’t know all the words. Let’s look at the syntax.

  • “Come * right now * me”

To you or me, that may look like nonsense. However, Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word. More often than not, you’ll find they are lyrics to The Beatles song “Come Together” and that’s what the search will tell you.

  1. Find sites that are similar to other sites

This is a unique one that could be used by practically everyone if they knew it existed. Let’s say you have a favorite website. It can be anything. However, that website is getting a little bit boring and you want to find other websites like it. You would use this trick. Below is the syntax.

If you search that above, you won’t find a link to Amazon. Instead, you’ll find links to online stores like Amazon. Sites like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and others that sell physical items online. It’s a powerful Google search tool that can help you find new sites to browse.

  1. Use Google search to do math

As a college student, I can attest that I use this one rather frequently. Google search can actually do math for you. This is a rather complex one to describe because it can be used in so many ways. You can ask it basic questions or some more difficult ones. It is important to note that it won’t solve all math problems, but it will solve a good number of them. Here are a couple of examples of the syntax.

  • 8 * 5 + 5
  • Planck’s Consant

If you search the first one, it’ll return 45. It will also show a calculator that you can use to find answers to more questions. This is handy if you need to do some quick math but don’t want to do it in your head. If you search the second term, it will return the number value of Planck’s Constant. So it can do math, but it can also help you solve math problems by showing values for known mathematical terms.

  1. Search for multiple words at once

Google search is flexible. It knows you may not find what you want by searching only a single word or phrase. Thus, it lets you search for multiples. By using this trick, you can search for one word or phrase along with a second word or phrase. This can help narrow down your search to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Here is the syntax.

  • “Best ways to prepare for a job interview” OR “How to prepare for a job interview”

By searching that, you will search both phrases. Remember the quotes tip above? It’s being used here as well. In this instance, these two exact phrases will be searched. It can be done by word too, like the example below.

  • chocolate OR white chocolate

This will search for pages that have either chocolate or white chocolate!

  1. Search a range of numbers

Searching for a range of numbers is another tip we don’t anticipate a lot of people using. The people that do use it, though, will probably use it quite a bit. People interested in money or statistics will find this tip particularly useful. Essentially, you use two dots and a number to let Google search know you’re looking for a specific range of numbers. Like the syntax below.

  • What teams have won the Stanley Cup ..2004
  • .43

In the first instance, the search will toss back the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The two dots with only one number will tell the search that you don’t need anything before or after 2004. This can help narrow down searches to a specific number to improve search results. In the second, Google will search for the numbers 41, 42, and 43. It is obscure, but wildly useful if you happen to need to search for numbers like this.

  1. Keep it simple

Now we’re getting into the general tips. Google search knows how to search for a lot of things. What this means is you don’t need to be too specific. If you need a pizza place nearby, use this to search.

  • Pizza places nearby

Google search will grab your location and deliver a variety of results about pizza places that are near you.

  1. Gradually add search terms

There will come a time when Google search doesn’t shovel out the results you expect. In this instance, keeping it simple may not be the best option. As Google itself suggests, the best method is to start with something simple then gradually get more complicated. See the example below.

  • First try: job interviews
  • Second try: prepare for job interviews
  • Third try: how to prepare for a job interview

This will gradually refine the search to bring you fewer, more targeted terms. The reason you don’t go straight from the first try to the third try is because you may miss what you’re looking for by skipping the second step. Millions of websites phrase the same information in a number of different ways; using this technique lets you search as many of them as possible to find the best info.

  1. Use words that websites would use

This is a very important one. When people use Google search to hunt the web, they generally search for things using the same language that they would use for speaking. Unfortunately, websites don’t say things the way people do; instead, they try to use language that sounds professional. Let’s look at some examples.

  • “I have a flat tire” could be replaced by “repair a flat tire.”
  • “My head hurts” could be replaced by “headache relief.”

The list goes on and on. When searching, try to use terminology you would find on a professional website. This will help you get more reliable results.

  1. Use important words only

The way Google search works is to take what you search for and match it with keywords in online content. When you search for too many words, it may limit your results. That means it may actually take you longer to find what you’re looking for. Thus, it is apropos to use only the important words when searching for something. Let’s see an example.

  • Don’t use: Where can I find a Chinese restaurant that delivers.
  • Instead try: Chinese restaurants nearby.
  • Or: Chinese restaurants near me.

Doing this can help Google find what you need without all the clutter. So remember, keep it simple and use important words only.

  1. Google search has shortcuts

A number of commands can be entered to give you instantaneous results. Like the math example above, Google can immediately give you the information you need that is displayed right at the top of the search results. This can save time and effort so you don’t have to click a bunch of bothersome links. Here are a few examples of some commands you can enter into Google.

  • Weather *zip code* – This will show you the weather in the given zip code. You can also use town and city names instead of area codes, but it may not be as accurate if there are multiple area codes in the city.
  • What is *celebrity name* Bacon Number – This is a fun little one that will tell you how many connections any given celebrity has to famed actor Kevin Bacon. The popular joke, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, is that no actor is more than 6 connections away from Kevin Bacon. Mark Zuckerberg has a Bacon Number of 3.
  • The math example posted above is another one.
  • What is the definition of *word* orDefine: *word* – This will display the definition of a word.
  • Time *place* – This will display the time in whatever place you type in.
  • You can check any stock by typing its ticker name into Google. If you search for GOOG, it will check the stock prices for Google.

These quick commands can take a web search that is usually multiple clicks and condense it into a single search. This is very helpful for information you need repeatedly.

  1. Spelling doesn’t necessarily matter

Google search has gotten a lot smarter over the years. These days, you don’t even need to spell words correctly. As long as it’s pretty close, Google can usually figure out what it means. Here are some examples.

  • If you search “Nver Gna Gve Yo Up” Google will automatically assume you mean to search for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” If by chance your misspelling was intentional, Google gives you the option to search for the misspelled term instead.

This trick is great if you happen to forget how to spell something or are not altogether sure how something is spelled. It can also be helpful when searching for obscure words. This applies to capitalization and grammar as well.

  1. Use descriptive words

Pretty much everything can be described in multiple ways. Take our namesake, the “life hack.” The terminology “hack” refers to a computer programmer breaking security on a network or system. However, when used in conjunction with the word “life”, it alters the meaning to tips and tricks people can use to improve their lives. If you have trouble finding what you’re searching for, keep in mind that people may search or define what you need in a different way than you do.

  • You may search “How to install drivers in Ubunut?”
  • When you really mean “Troubleshoot driver problems Ubuntu.”

There really isn’t a good specific example for this one. If you search for something and you can’t find an answer, try asking the same question using different words and see if that helps the results.

  1. Find a specific file

An often forgotten feature of Google search is the ability to search for a specific file or file type. This can be infinitely useful if you need a specific PDF or PowerPoint file that you previously viewed or need to use for another project. The syntax is quite simple.

  • *Search term here* filetype:pdf

In the above example, you simply replace the search term with whatever you’re searching for. Then use the filetype command and enter the extension of any file type you can think of. This can mostly be useful for scholarly purposes, but business presentations and other assorted presentations can benefit from this kind of search as well.

  1. Money and unit conversions

Google search can quickly and accurately convert both measurement units and currency value. There are a variety of uses for this, like checking to see the conversion rate between two currencies. If you happen to be a math student, you can use it to convert from feet to meters or from ounces to liters. Here’s how to do it.

  • miles to km – This will convert miles to kilometers. You can put numbers in front to convert a certain number. Like “10 miles to km” will show you how many kilometers are in 10 miles.
  • USD to British Pound Sterling – This will convert a US dollar to British pounds. Like the measurements above, you can add numbers to find exact conversions for a certain amount of money.

It’s true that this tip is geared toward math students and international business people. However, you’d be surprised how often these tips are used by regular people.

 

  1. Track your packages

Our last trick is to use Google search to find out where your packages are. You can enter any UPS, USPS, or Fedex tracking number directly into the Google search bar, and it’ll show you the tracking information about your package. This is much easier than going to the specific sites, waiting for them to load, then searching for your packages there. No examples are really needed for this one. Just type your tracking number in and see where your package is.

 

 

  1. Comparing Food

Believe it or not, if you’re ever curious how two types of (fairly generic) foods compare with one another, you can do a quick Google search to see how they differ in calories, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, and other nutrients.

Search Example: pizza vs broccoli

 

 

  1. Sports Scores & Schedules

Want to know the latest sports scores and future schedules of your favorite teams or match-ups? Search a single team name or two team names and Google will use Google Sports to spit out scores and schedules before the first search results.

Search Example: manchester united

 

  1. Flight Statuses

If you type in the airline and airplane number into Google, it will tell you the flight information, status, and other helpful information.

Search Example: BA 181

 

  1. Sunrise & Sunset Times

If you’re curious when the sun will rise and set that day at a specific location, do a simple Google search with the word sunrise or sunset along with the location name.

Search Example: sunrise acadia

  1. Stopwatch

Search “stopwatch” and it’ll bring up a stopwatch for you to start when you’re ready.

Search Example: stopwatch 

  1. Timer

Don’t have a timer handy? Google has you covered. Just type in an amount of time + the word “timer,” and the countdown will begin automatically

 

  1. Tip Calculator

 

Along with a normal calculator, Google has a built-in tip calculator. Just search tip calculator and you can adjust the bill, tip %, and number of people splitting it.

 

Search Example: tip calculator

 

  1. Exclude Words

Let’s say you want to search for content about inbound marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising. To do this, simply use the  sign in front of the word you want to exclude.

Example Search: inbound marketing -advertising

 

  1. This OR That

By default, when you conduct a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search. If you’re looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator. (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).

Example Search: inbound marketing OR advertising

  1. Words in the Text

If you want to find a webpage where all the terms you’re searching for appear in the text of that page (but not necessarily beside each other), type in allintext: followed immediately by words or phrases.

Example Search: allintext:vermont ski house lake

  1. Words in the Text + Title, URL etc.

If you want to find a webpage where one term appears in the text of that page and another term appears elsewhere on the page, like the title or URL, then type in that first term followed by intext: followed immediately by the other term.

Example Search: neil diamond intext:red sox

  1. Words in the Title

Want to find a webpage with certain words contained in the title (but not necessarily beside each other)? Type in allintitle: followed immediately by words or phrases.

Example Search: allintitle:wine club

  1. Words in the TItle + Text, URL, etc.

Want to find a webpage where one term appears in the title of that page and another term appears elsewhere on the page, like in the text or the URL? Type in that first term followed by intitle: immediately followed by the other term.

Example Search: flu shot intitle:advice

34) Words in the URL

If you want to find pages with your search query mentioned in the URL, type allinurl: immediately followed by your search query.

Example Search: allinurl:hubspot blog

 

  1. Similar Words and Synonyms

Let’s say you want to include a word in your search, but also want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. To do this, use the ~ in front of the word.

Example Search: “inbound marketing” ~professional

 

 

36.News in a Specific Location

If you’re looking for news related to a specific location, you can use the location: command to search Google News for stories coming from that location.

 

  1. Specific Document Types

If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier filetype:. For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to inbound marketing.

Example Search: “inbound marketing” filetype:ppt

  1. Translations

Want to translate a simple word or phrase from one language to another? No need to go to a translation website. Just search translate [word] to [language].

Example Search: translate krankenwagen to english

  1. Phone Listing

Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number, and you don’t know who it is. If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.

Example Search: phonebook:617-555-1212

(Note: The number in this example doesn’t work. You’ll have to use a real number to get any results.)

  1. Area Code Lookup

If all you need to do is to look up the area code for a phone number, just enter the three-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from.

Example Search: 617

  1. Metronome

 

  1. Recipes Bread baking

 

  1. Maps

 

  1. Do a barrel roll

 

  1. Tilt or askew
  2. Play Pacman. “type pacman”

 

  1. Build with chrome

 

  1. Special day searches, thanksgiving

 

  1. Use Microphone in google

 

  1. distance to cities

 

  1. translate long numbers = English

 

  1. https://translate.google.com/

 

  1. Search for release date of movie

 

  1. Google doodles. I’m feeling lucky

 

 

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