Google as you know it, is the best and probably the most important research tool in today’s digitalized world. Most its very disheartening to find out that many people still cant use google to perform a simple search.
In today’s post I will take you from simple to advanced google search techniques.
I will share with you 28 ways to start using google like a PRO, now you can have all the information the internet has to offer.
1. Start with the basics
No matter what you’re looking for, start with a simple search like where’s the closest airport? You can always add a few descriptive words if necessary.
If you’re looking for a place or product in a specific location, add the location. For example, bakery Seattle.
2. Using exact phrase
The simplest and most effective way to search for something specific is to use quote marks around a phrase or name to search for those exact words in that exact order.
For instance, searching for Joe Bloggs will show results with both Joe and Bloggs but not necessarily placed sequentially. Searching for “Joe Bloggs” will surface only those that specifically have the name Joe Bloggs somewhere on the page.
The exact or explicit phrase search is very useful for excluding more common but less relevant results.
3. Exclude terms
If exact phrase doesn’t get you what you need, you can specifically exclude certain words using the minus symbol.
A search for “Joe Bloggs” -jeans will find results for Joe Bloggs, but it will exclude those results for the Joe Bloggs brand of jeans.
4. Either OR
OR search for things that could be one thing or another, but you don’t need both terms to exist on a single page.
Default text searches find results with all the words of the query. By using the OR term you can search for one or another term, not just all the terms. OR searches can be useful for finding things that you’re not sure which term will be used from a known list.
5. Synonym search
Sometimes it’s useful to search for a less specific term. If you’re not sure which term will be used you can use synonym search.
Searching for plumbing ~university will bring up results for plumbing from colleges as well as universities, for example.
6. Search within a site
The search engines of most websites are poor. You can search using Google instead using the site or domain limiter.
Searching with site: theguardian.com followed a search term, will find results from only theguardian.com. Combining with explicit search terms makes it even more powerful.
7. The power of the asterisk
Asterisks work as wildcards within search either to replace a word or letters. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
Like the blank tile in Scrabble, the asterisk works as a wild card within searches. It can be used in place of a missing word or part of a word, which is useful for completing phrases, but also when you’re trying to search for a less definite article.
A search for architect* will search for architect, but also architectural, architecture, architected, architecting and any other word which starts with architect.
8. Searching between two values
Searching for something with a qualifier between two ranges is a good way of answering questions.
For instance, if you’re looking for those who were the
British prime ministers between 1920 and 1950 a search using ‘British prime minister 1920… 1950’ will bring up results with dates ranging between 1920 and 1950.
That’s your search term followed two full stops and a space.
9. Search for word in the body, title or URL of a page
Sometimes you only want to find text either within the URL, body or title of a page. Using the qualifier inurl: will search just within the URL.
The qualifier intext: will search within the body, while intitle: will search only within a page title.
For example, intitle: review will bring up all the articles with “review” in the page title.
10. Search for related sites
The related qualifier is useful for finding similar sites. Searching for related: theguardian.com for instance, will bring up the websites of other news organizations that Google deems the most similar to the Guardian.
11. Combine them
Combine the terms and modifiers for powerful searches. All these search tools can be combined to narrow down or expand searches. While some of them may be used only rarely, some such as explicit phrase searches are useful in almost all cases.
As Google and other search engines improve their understanding of the way people naturally type or say search queries, these power tools will likely become less and less useful – at least that’s the goal that search engines are working towards – but that’s certainly not the case at the moment.
12. Search websites for keywords
Think of the “site:” function as a Google search that searches only a particular website. If you want to see every time TIME.com mentioned Google, use the search
13. Search news archives going back to the mid-1880s
Google News has an option to search over 100 years’ worth of archived news from newspapers around the world.
14. Compare foods using “vs”
Can’t decide between a burger and pizza for dinner? Type in “rice vs. quinoa,” for example, and you’ll receive side-- side comparisons of the nutritional facts.
15. Use “DEFINE:” to learn the meaning of words—slang included
Streamline the dictionary process using, for example,
“DEFINE: mortgage.” For words that appear in the dictionary, you’ll be able to see etymology and a graph of its use over time alongside the definition.
Google will even sift the web to define slang words or acronyms. Try out “DEFINE: bae” or “DEFINE: SMH”.
16. Search images using images
Ever come across a photo that looks strangely familiar? Or if you want to know where it came from? If you save the image, and then search it on Google Images (with the camera button), you’ll be able to see similar images on the web.
17. Choose words carefully
When you’re deciding what words to put in the search box, try to choose words that are likely to appear on the site you’re looking for.
For example, instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that’s the word a medical site would use.
18. Don’t worry about the little things
- Spelling. Google’s spell checker automatically uses the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly.
- Capitalization. A search for NEW YORK TIMES is the same as a search for New York Times.
- Use Google search to do math!
19. Use Google search to do math!
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 Constant
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 showing values for known mathematical terms.
20. Search for multiple words at once
Google search is flexible. It knows you may not find what you want 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 word too, like the example below – chocolate OR white chocolate
This will search for pages that have either chocolate or white chocolate!
21. Keep it simple
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 near, use this to search. Pizza places near
Google search will grab your location and deliver a variety of results about pizza places that are near you.
22. 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 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.
23. 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 “repair a flat tire.”
“My head hurts” could be replaced “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.
24. 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 near. 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.
25. Google search has shortcuts
A number of commands can be entered to give you instantaneous results. Like the math example in Tip #19, 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.
The math example posted in Tip #19 is another one.
What is the definition of *word* or Define: *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 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.
26. 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 Ubuntu?”
When you really mean “Troubleshoot driver problems
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.
27. 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
Or ‘Mo Dick.pdf’
In the above example, you simply replace the search term with whatever you’re searching for. Then use the file type command and enter the extension of any file type you can think of.
This can mostly be useful for scholarly purposes, but business presentations (PPT) and other assorted presentations can benefit from this kind of search as well.
You can also use this to find free eBooks on topics you’re researching about e.g. search ‘Online Business in
Nigeria.pdf’ and it will bring out all eBooks and PDF files related to that keyword.
28. 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 is top 28 ways I could find for you to properly use google. So what I want you to do something for me. Read this post and practice the different ways here to use google mentioned in this post.
Happy practice and keep one eye open for our next post.