At any given moment there are millions of people ‘Googling’ something but very few use the many features associated with the search engine that can refine, define and optimize your search. For example, your Google results will be different if you search for dog or dogs, crazy horse or horse crazy. Google pays attention to the order of your words and if they are plurals but ignores most little words (I, it , an for, of, etc.) and punctuation other than apostrophes, hyphens, and quote marks. So, here are some tips for getting more out of your Google searches and for spending less time searching for elusive tidbits.
1. Be as specific as possible when searching for something.
Typing in chocolate will result in pages on the history of chocolate, a Directory Of Chocolatiers in the States, chocolate making schools, a Thai movie called “Chocolate” and so on. If you were looking for chocolate stores in your area, you would be better served typing in chocolate store Courtenay and up pops the Dark Side Chocolates website. Hint: if you initially typed in chocolate Google helpfully suggests related searches at the top of the results: history of chocolate, how to make chocolate, chocolate facts.
2. Words that are quoted together, stick together.
Google searches for all the words you type no matter where they appear on a page, so they may be right next to each other or all over the page. If you are looking for a specific phrase, book title, person, etc. it is useful to put quotes around the words you want grouped together: “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon”.
3. Exclude the words you don’t want.
If you want to find out what Brad Pitt is up to these days but are tired of the Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston saga, simply exclude them with a -: “Brad Pitt” –“Angelina Jolie” –“Jennifer Aniston”
4. Keep the words you do need.
To find the Hitchcock movie you want information on and not an ornithologists guide to avians you can ask Google to keep the thewith a +: +the birds.
5. Use wildcards for words you don’t know.
If you just can’t figure out what Jimi Hendrix is saying in Purple Haze you can search for it by filling in the blanks with * (wildcards): “’Scuse me, while I kiss * *”. This is also a good way to reduce the use of questions in your Google search. For example, instead of asking “Where is guacamole from?” you can phrase your search as an answer: “Guacamole is from *”
6. Define your search.
If you want to know the definition of a word you can search for your definition one of two ways: define plethora or define:plethora.The first way will put the definition at the top of your results and the second will provide you only with sites that define the word.
7. Use it as a quick calculator.
Simply enter the equation into the search box: 2+2*3/5 and Google will tell you the answer is 3.2. You can also ask for conversions: 90cm=*inches.
8. Use Google as your address book.
When you are looking for a phone number, address, map or website for a company you can type the business name and location into Google and the first entry will have a map and contact info for you. If you are looking for a person type in their last name, first name and location. Similarly, by typing in a street address Google will pull up a map for you.
9. Don’t leave home without (checking) it.
If you can’t decide whether to bring your umbrella out or not type in weather Vancouver and you will see the four day forecast. The weather network link is a close second if you want more details.
10. Last but not least – Google as your Entertainment Guide.
Movies Victoria or show times Victoria will provide you with a list of films playing in your area. If you can’t remember the name of a film you can type in movie: Audrey Tautou and a list of her movies with reviews and ratings will pop up. The same applies to books you are searching for:book:tiger boat island reveals the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Google searches can be as easy as typing in a phrase, clicking the first link and finding exactly what you need (or at least a link on the first page of results) or they can be as frustrating as finding a needle in a haystack. These few tips should speed up your searching. You can also Google Google if you want more information on their features. They have an About Google button on every Google page and within these pages there is a “search our site” box.