My daughter is a typical teenager – 15 years of hormone fueled, facebook focused, and texting driven angst, who, although born as part of the internet generation, is totally unaware of how to search efficiently and quickly. The feeble cries of protestation of “I can’t find it anywhere” when a school project forces her out of her comfort zone are an almost daily occurrence.
So I did a little poll around the office and found out that she wasn’t abnormal and that very few people seem to be aware of how Google, for example, can help you drill down to get the specific information you want. So I thought that a primer in basic search techniques was in order.
Google actually has over 40 modifiers to adjust and fine tune your search results. There are also another 22 advance special features triggered by keywords. You don’t have to know them all but some are very useful:
Search for an exact word or phrase
You should know this already but if you want to find the exact word or set of words put the search phrase in quotation marks. It helps to sift the wheat from the chaff quickly.
Ex: "imagine all the people" gets you the John Lennon song quickly
Exclude a word
To exclude a word from your search query just put a dash (-) before the word you don’t want to search on
Ex: "imagine all the people" –lennon and now you don’t have the song but something completely different. Good for when you know that a brand name may be confused with a place name.
Search within a site or domain
Lets say you want to search only within a specific website you can use Google to define only this.
Ex: "imagine all the people" site:cnn.com and you will get only the phrase as it was reported on cnn.com. Important point is that there should be no space between site: and the actual domain name. You can also define just a top level domain such as .gov or .de as well (site:.gov)
Search within other Parameters
Link: If you type: link:www.cnn.com you can see who is linking to a particular site.
Author: If you type: author:Charles Dickens it will return articles authored by him.
Location: If you type: queen location:
it will match the term “queen” with articles from Holland only
Define a word
If you want to know the definition for a word or phrase then just put the word “define:” in front of the query.
Ex: define:marketing and you have a quick definition together with pages that relate to the word
Use a wildcard
If you can’t remember an exact phrase but some of the words then use an asterisk (*) within a search as a placeholder for any unknown terms.
Ex: "linkedIn and * b2b" will give you various search phrases with options for the blanks. Great for songs title where you can’t remember it exactly.
Search for either word
If you want to search for pages that have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms.
Ex: Winter olympics 2014 OR 2018 will give you results on either of the terms.
Search for a number range
This is great for finding a range of numbers . If you separate the numbers by two periods (with no spaces) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements.
Ex: new convertible cars $20000:$25000
Use Google as a calculator
Many people have no idea that you can get the answers for most calculations simply by typing them in the search bar.
Ex: 2^3(25+3^4) will give you 848 and a nice calculator will appear for simpler math. Use sqr for square roots etc. It’s actually very handy.
So explore and have fun with this. You will be surprised how much more you can get out of Google specifically if you know a little bit more.