Many of us can’t go a day without turning to Google for the answer to a question or problem.
Some people are wizards at finding exactly what they want when doing a Google search, while others are constantly frustrated by failing to get speedy results.
Here are a few tips and tricks for getting the most from your Google searches.
Search for an explicit phrase.
One of the most frustrating experiences in doing a Google search is to type in a two-word phrase and get dozens of results for one word or the other, but not both. Avoid this by enclosing the phrase you’re searching for in double quotes, like “urban legends.” This should take you to Snopes.com rather than every site on the ‘net devoted to big cities or mythology.
Don’t ask a question.
One common mistake is asking Google a question, as though it were a Ouija board or crystal ball. If you want to know how to unclog your drain, enter “unclog drain,” not “How do I unclog my drain?” This is more likely to deliver the remedies you’re looking for.
Eliminate unwanted subjects.
If you’re getting too many hits that cover a subject other than the one you’re searching, type in the target item, then a minus sign in front of the unwanted term. If you want to know about caring for dogs but not about producing puppies, try “pet care – breeding.”
Get a quick definition.
The Internet is full of dictionaries, but if all you need is a fast definition, just type in “define: word.”
Try cached pages.
The version of an article you get with a standard Google search may not be exactly the one you’re looking for, since some articles undergo editing after being published. Let’s face it—some people rashly type in an outrageous, treasonous or just downright stupid opinion, then edit or delete it when they sober up or realize what kind of trouble they could be getting into. If you’re looking for the very first version of anything, use the “cached” operator to unearth the original text of outdated, updated or edited pages.
Add keywords for more exact results.
If your original search term has yielded an unwieldy number of results, like four or five million, edit that number down by more narrowly defining your search. Add an adjective, location or other term that will narrow your search and cut down on the number of unnecessary results. Keep adding more specific terms until you get a manageable number of results.
Look for a synonym.
Maybe the word or phrase you’re using isn’t the one that will produce the most results. If your search is coming up dry, look for another term with a similar meaning. If your search for “frugal travel” isn’t giving you the discount airfares and hotels you’re looking for, instead try “cheap travel,” “travel bargains,” “low cost travel” or “budget travel.” You may have to be inventive and try a few different ideas to get what you’re looking for.
Keep it simple.
Some terms are more web-friendly than others, so try to enter the most commonly used words or phrases for popular searches. “Celebrity gossip” will get your more hits than “Dirt on famous people” and “Smartphone deals” is more likely to deliver the currently lowest prices on a Samsung Galaxy SIV than “cheap phones.”
Find comparable sites.
If you’ve discovered a site that has great vegan recipes or your favorite political conspiracy theories, you can find similar sites quickly by typing “related:” followed by the URL of the website.
I bet you are already getting better search results from Google but don’t stop reading yet because you are about to find out how to find exactly what you are searching for.