I admit that a lot has already been written on this subject. But it turns out that people still do not know how to search on Google.
The vast majority (more than 90% of people) does not go beyond using one or two keywords to search for something in Google, at most, also clicking on the “Images” link to search for photos or images that correspond to those words.
Almost nobody uses the advanced features or “tricks” to search on Google, even though these options are really simple to learn and use, and are extremely powerful and useful.
The result is that, although in many occasions search in a simple way combining the keywords to search for leads you quickly enough results, you will also have noticed that in many occasions it really costs you to find what you are looking for.
In addition, it happens quite often the results are of a quality very inferior to what you would need (and that you could have found using the tricks presented in this articles).
Let us see how to take advantage of what Google really can offer:
- Quote the words to indicate exact phrases
Suppose you are looking for something like: ‘the brown hub’
Google applies certain improvements, such as spell checking or the search for synonyms. This, sometimes, is annoying. You can avoid them by looking for exact phrases indicating it with double quotes:
“the brown hub”
Now, Google will only return results with this exact phrase (note also how the total number of results is substantially reduced, that is, the “noise” is reduced).
- Exclude words with the “-” sign and force inclusion with “+”
Let's say now that you're looking for information about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in this way:
It turns out that the results are “contaminated” of comparisons with the iPhone, which do not interest you at all because you are clear that you want to buy Note8. But also, you want to find out about prices.
It is as easy as excluding the results in which the word iPhone appears and forcing the word “prices” to appear with this search:
Galaxy Note8 -iPhone + prices
- Use the wildcard (asterisk) “*”
The asterisk acts as a wildcard in Google searches. Suppose, for example, that you want to dine at a restaurant that you liked, but you do not remember its name well. What you know is that it begins with ‘People’, a perfect case to use the wildcard:
Restaurant “People *”
- Combine terms with “OR” or “|”
Google searches by default for all the terms on the pages and the more of them appear, the more relevant the page will be considered (among other criteria).
However, this premise is not always correct. Sometimes it is enough that at least one of them appears and should not have more weight for it.
You can use either the word “OR” (in uppercase) or the symbol “|” (key “alt” + 1)
Tablet apple | Samsung
- Search with numerical ranges with “x ... y”
You can also use numerical ranges in searches to centre them a little better.
World population year 1900 ... 2000
Test this search and then compare with this one:
You will see how with the first one the results include many more pages that present specifically the demographic evolution in this interval of time, leaving aside another content that could be considered nothing but noise.
- Search for something inside a website with “site:” or exclude it with “-site”
This is, without a doubt, my favourite trick, it can especially be used for three things:
- Search information on sites that you trust
- Search in certain sites posts to link to a post of yours
- Search forums and similar sites
Therefore, the information you find here is going to be of a quality much higher than what you can usually find in the network on the subject, focusing your search here you will rule out a lot of noise and gain a lot of quality in the results.
- Search for documents of a certain type with “filetype:”
This is another of the most useful features that, in my opinion, Google has.
Recently Google has updated its search tools, it is worth exploring them to see what they offer.
It allows to search for specific types of documents indicating the corresponding extension, for example in PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations or Excel sheets. Normal web pages are completely discarded, only files with the specified extension are returned.
- Tweaking with the title
Although Google recognises synonyms and returns the best results accordingly. But if you are looking for:
You can insert ‘methods, tips, tricks and techniques’ in place of ‘how to’ and see how the results change.