These days almost everyone turns to the internet when they need to find something. Google is one of the most popular search engines to find just what you need. It’s quick and easy to use and provides reliable results. Most of the time it takes just seconds to find exactly what you are looking for, but it can take longer if you make the search too complicated or not specific enough.
At this point most of you are probably thinking: “It’s Google, it does the work for you,” or “It’s idiot proof, anyone can do it.” But you’d be surprised how your search results change by taking out certain unnecessary words or phrasing things in a different way. Certain keywords or phrases used for searching can cause scattered results, and you may have to look through several pages before finding what you need, when changing your keywords or phrases could have gotten you there much quicker.
To maximize your Google search and save your valuable time, use the tips below to help you become a Google pro.
Casing and punctuation
Neither of these matter. Google is not case sensitive and punctuation, as well as special characters, is ignored. Don’t waste your time with correct casing or punctuation.
Every word counts
Each and every word you type into the search box is matters. When Google submits a query to its engine, every word typed into the search box is used. Using too many words that are not necessary can scramble your results a bit, and waste your time. Only use the most important words for your search.
The more simple the better
Whether it’s a product, place, or company you are looking for start with its name. If you are looking for a place or company in conjunction with a certain idea or product, just enter the main concept behind the idea or the main purpose of the product. If you are trying to find a product that performs a certain function, just enter that function. Keep it simple and get better results. Being too detailed can throw off your results. For instance, if you are looking for a company in NYC that provides car detailing, instead of entering companies in NYC that detail your car, simply enter car detailing NYC. In the case of Google, less is more.
Think about the type of page you are trying to find
Google matches the words you type in the search box to the words on pages of the internet. It cannot make connections to the type of pages you are looking for to optimize the search. So, it’s best to use keywords or phrases that would be found on the page. For instance, if you have a nose bleed and are looking for a medical page for advice or details, instead of entering my nose is bleeding, enter nose bleed. Nose bleed is how it would be written on a medical site.
Remember, Google simply matches the words, it cannot infer that you are looking for a medical page. For further clarification, in what part of the country are strawberries grown will give you much different results than strawberries are grown in because the latter is what the correct web page will say. Granted the former will return many threaded sites where people answer questions and you might get the right one, but it will take some reading through the threads and it may not even be from a reliable source.
Give a description in as few words as possible
Each word in a Google search serves to further focus the search. Using additional, unneeded words will limit your search because each word is used. Likewise, if you limit your words too much, a lot of useful information will be missed in the search. Start with fewer words in your initial search; this is advantageous because if you do not get the result you need from your search, often what you do find will give you a good indication of what words need to be added to your search to get better results on the next search. For instance, traffic los angeles, is a great way to find out what the traffic is like that day, and more likely to give better results than traffic report for los angeles california because it contains unneeded words that will spread Google’s focus.
Use descriptive words
Words that are more unique will give more specific search results that will likely be the most relevant to your search. Words like information or details are not very descriptive and are so common that it could throw off the search entirely. Additionally, common usage is important. Just because the word you use is correct in meaning doesn’t mean you will get the desired results as it may not be the word most people use to describe what you are looking for. For example, toad sounds would not give as good of results as frog ringtones. While yes, a toad is a type of frog and sounds are ringtones, these are not the words that most people would use to describe ringtones that sound like frogs.
Being more descriptive, specific, and using words of common usage, will insure that you get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
These are the best tips for basic web searches using Google. However, for some of us more advanced users there are a few more tips that can help us along in our search and give us just a little more power. It’s important to note, that while these tips can help, they are used only a small percentage of the time, even for the most advanced users.
Searching within a single website
Google has the capability of allowing you to search only one specific website for the keywords or phrases you are entering. This can be accomplished by using the word site followed by a colon in your key phrase. Searching for baseball site:bostonherald.com will give you results regarding baseball but only from bostonherald.com.
While sticking with simpler searches like baseball boston herald will most likely find what you need, it will also return results from other sites that mention baseball or the Boston Herald. Classes of sites can also be specified during a Google search. This can be accomplished by using domain type instead of the specific address. For instance, baseball site:.edu will return searched regarding baseball only from a .edu domain.
Using exact phrases
Sometimes when searching you want Google to find the exact phrase you are searching for and not a mixture. If you put double quotes around your phrase, Google will only return results for exact matches to your search. This is often unnecessary as Google automatically uses the order as an indicator for searches; however Google will stray from this if needed.
The negative side to using quotes is that you could miss very good resources by using an exact search. Searching for “George Bush”, will give you relevant results, but about both George Bushes, and Google will look over great sites that maybe use George W. Bush in their articles. Use quotes around your set of words only if you have very good reasons.
Using a single word exactly as it is
When Google searches for results, it automatically includes synonyms in its search. If you were to search for toothbrush, it will automatically match you to sites that use tooth brush. If you do not want Google to do this, simply put your word in quotations. Your search would then become “toothbrush”. This will insure that Google does not search for synonyms and should be used when that is not your desire and when you know that a certain word can commonly be missed used in that way. Adding double quotes lets Google know you want to search for the word precisely the way you typed it.
Filling in the blanks
This is a very powerful feature of Google. If certain unknown terms need to be used in a search, putting * in their place will serve as a placeholder and help you find results that will give you the unknown words. This cannot be used for parts of words, only entire words. For example, searching for senate * the * bill, will return results for different bills that the Senate voted on and whether they were passed or not. Additionally, searching for McDonald’s * will give you results regarding all the different menu items, locations, and relevant information about McDonald’s.
When you do not want a word to appear in your search result, simply put a hyphen immediately before the word that is preceded by a space. Searching for Ram –football –truck will return results only about the animal and will exclude any results pertaining to the football team or the Dodge truck. Don’t worry; words that actually use a hyphen will not be subjected to this trick. And, you can also exclude certain sites by using the minus symbol. Just use the hyphen before the site: operator we discussed earlier and that site will be excluded from your search results.
Google is an amazing search engine that can help you find the information you need quickly and efficiently. Learning how to control it will allow you to optimize your searches and get the best results without missing anything. Next time you use Google, remember to use these tips above and get the most out of your search.