This article was originally written by me for a newsletter that is mostly consumed by non-techie business audience. You may know most of the search techniques that are described in this article. I have not been able to cover everything due to word limitation. If I have missed something interesting, do share it in comments section.
Often times we are searching on the web for various things and we get frustrated when we don’t get to our intended result fast. We switch our default search engine from Google to Yahoo and then Yahoo to Bing but the end result stays the same. Most of the search engines that exists today gives you near identical results and they are all equally good (Ok, maybe Google is a little better…), but other than the difference in Look n’ feel and speed, all the major engines follow the same underlying architecture that indexes the world wide web so that you can find everything at your fingertips.
Everyone knows how to search the web, its simple – we type in a word or a phrase and we get the result. But I’m going to share some of my personal web search tips for Google that gets me results much faster!
Write your search phrase naturally
Most of the search engines today can process natural language better than you think. So when you are searching for a direct answer, you should type in the question as it comes to your mind. E.g. What is the Capital of Netherlands? or What is the distance between earth and moon?
Search for Information from a Specific Site
Sometimes we want to get a piece of information out from a specific site quickly without visiting numerous doorway pages to do so. The operator “site:” works really well on those cases. By defining a “site:domain.com” at the end of your search phrase, you are telling Google to look for the information exactly on that particular website and nowhere else. For example, If you are looking for the 1-800 number of DHL simply search for – 1-800 site:dhl.com and it will directly show you the number in your search results page.
Exclude terms you don’t want to include
You may come across a situation where the search engine gets confused about a particular term that you are searching for and displays results for another term. For instance, if you search for “Jaguar” Google by default thinks you mean the car brand jaguar. But it may not be the case all the time. So you can exclude terms like “car” from your search results to refine your result so that you only see pages relevant to what you actually need. If you search for jaguar –car it will exclude all the jaguar car pages from your search results page and only show you information related to the real ‘jaguar’.
Find a definition of a word quickly
You can use the operator “define:” in front of a word to find its definition quickly. It often gives you a sentence as an example so that you get a general idea of where and how to use that word. Do you know the meaning of the word – Tenebrous? Well try define: tenebrous in Google now!
Check Weather, Local Time and Movie Schedule
Checking for things like weather, local time and even movie schedule is very easy with Google. If you are and would like to know the weather of the city of your destination, just type weather cityname (e.g. weather london), similarly for time type time cityname/country (e.g. time kuala lumpur) and you will not only get the time but also the day and date. For movie time/schedule use the operator movie: followed by your cityname (e.g. movie:Kuala Lumpur).
Quick Currency Conversion
Search for Multiple queries
You can search for multiple queries at the same time using the operator “OR”. E.g. Paper Cup OR Disposable Cup will display results of both Paper Cups & Disposable Cups. So adding synonyms of words that you are searching for with the operator “OR” increases your chances of getting more relevant results.
Don’t have your calculator with you? No problem! Google can even do calculations try searching for 2+2 -3 or even more complex calculation like 34.5% of 1933
Search by File type
Sometimes you may want to find information that comes in a specific file type (e.g. pdf, ppt, doc or mp3). With the filetype: operator you can easily do so. E.g. Marketing Trends filetype:ppt will only show you PowerPoint presentations with the title Marketing Trends.
Hopefully you will find some of these tips useful and make most out of your Google Search experience! Happy Goo-gl-ing!