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 If you’re looking for the very first version of anything, use the “cached” operator to unearth the original text of outdated, updated or edited pages.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.
If you just turn to Google News for the latest happenings, you may be missing out on some ways to use it for a faster and more accurate search. One tool is “All news.” This one gives you the choice of searching all news sources or just blogs. A search of blogs can come in handy if you’re researching the public opinion around a certain news story.
Another handy Google News search tool is the one that lets you search by time. The choices are “Any time,” “Past hour,” “Past 24 hours,” “Past week,” “Past month,” “Archives” and “Custom range.” If you want all news items on a recent event, choose “Any time,” but if you’re looking for the latest on something that happened within the past day, you’d get more exact results with “Past hour” or “Past 24 hours.” If you want to get the score on a ball game that’s still being played, “Past hour” will give you the latest numbers rather than last week’s interviews with the coach and sportswriters’ predictions of who’s going to win.
“Custom range” lets you check out the results on a specific event or subject within a certain frame of time. If you want to see the news stories filed on a certain historic event at the time it happened rather than the opinion pieces written later, this tool will give the more specialized results.
Another Google News tool offers the choice of “Sorted by relevance” or “Sorted by date.” If you want to see every story pertaining to an event choose the first, but if you’re looking for the most recent, pick the latter. This tool helps you see the results in the order that means the most to you.
Google Maps are not just for stalking.
A few years ago, young Hollywood celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton were victimized by an inexperienced group of thieves dubbed “The Bling Ring.” These miscreants Googled the jewelry and other pricey goodies owned by the celebs, then targeted the most coveted items. They used Google Maps to case the homes of the famous and scoping out the likeliest points of entry. While the “Bling Ring” did score some cool stuff, they were eventually caught and convicted of their crimes.
Hopefully, you’re not planning a heist or looking for the best spot to stalk a celeb, but you can use Google Maps to check out real estate, streets or even the exterior of a business before you have to drive there. You might as well get a look at those winding streets up in the hills before you actually have to navigate them. Although it’s a sure thing that obsessed fans are using Google Maps to cyberstalk their favorites, there are plenty of ways that this tool can help the rest of us, too. The Satellite function of Google Maps can take you right down on the street to the point that it’s almost like being there!
If that budget priced hotel boasts that it’s located “right on the water,” using Google Maps can let you zero in and find out its exact location. You may find out that the only water this dubious dump is near is a mud puddle in the parking lot. Wonder about the parking in an area you’ll be visiting? Use Google Maps for an overview of the streets and nearby parking lots.
There are lots of ways to use Google’s numerous search functions to get the information you need, but sometimes you have to experiment to get exactly what you’re looking for!
|Written on 10/5/2013 by Linda Cauthen.|