Have you ever spent hours trying to find the perfect source to cite in you paper, or find a statistic that supports a product you are trying to sell? Or maybe you stumbled across an article a while back on a particular site and now you need to find it again. These can be frustrating tasks when you’re using a search engine such as Google, but if you know exactly what to enter, you’ll quickly become a search engine pro.
First, let’s think about how Google works. This could take a long time to explain, but all you really need to know is two words; crawling and indexing. Metaphorically speaking, Google’s crawling software is like little tiny little robots that scour the web, reading every single page and following all the links on that page to find more pages to read. What do the robots do with that data? They bring it back to the Google servers where it will be indexed and stored.
Here’s where you come in. When you perform a search in Google, you’re entering keywords to help call up the data that you want to find. Search engine technology has made this crazy easy, but sometimes you need a little help to get what you came for.
Google has a number of tricks up its sleeve to help you get the results you’re looking for. As a general tip, the more info you give Google, the more refined your results will be. For example, searching “coffee” in Google returns about 1,020,000,000 results, whereas searching something more specific such as “Nigerian coffee beans” returns only 493,00 results.
This can apply to all sorts of topics. For instance, if you’re trying to find a statistic on internet usage growth, try typing exactly what you want the stat to say. As an example, try entering “Internet usage among young adults grew year-over-year 2015” instead of just “internet usage growth”. Taking this one step further, you can give Google a blank to fill in by using an asterisk in place of what you’re searching for. For instance, ” Internet usage in 2015 grew *.” In an article published on TechRadar.com, author Gary Marshall explains other means of mastering Google. Some key points are highlighted below.
1. USE QUOTATION MARKS TO FIND EXACT PHRASES
- Using quotations around a phrase will return results that only have that exact phrase. So search “cats riding unicycle” to find exactly that instead of a guy riding a unicyle while he holds a cat. See what I did there?
2. USE ‘AND’ TO FIND RESULTS WITH ALL KEYWORDS
- Did you know that you don’t have to search with full statements? Stringing multiple keywords together with “AND” will find results that include all of those keywords. Example – “Cats AND Unicycle AND Funny”
3. USE A MINUS SIGN TO EXCLUDE KEYWORDS
- Opposite of that previous tip, use the minus sign in a search to ignore results that include a certain keyword. Example – “Cats AND Unicycle AND Funny -guy -man.” Looks like a weird equation, right?
4. LIMIT WHERE YOU SEARCH WITH “SITE:, INTITLE:, INURL:, FILETYPE:, ETC.”
- Using various keywords paired with a colon allows you to get really specific in your search. Use “site:” to search a particular site. Use “intitle:” to return results with your keywords in the title, and use “inurl:” to do the same for web addresses. Last, but not least, use “filetype:” to find a certain type of file (.pdf, .jpg, .pptx, etc.)
These are some great tips for becoming a search engine pro, but Google’s not always so serious. There are also a lot of fun “easter eggs” inside of Google’s search engine that let you have a little fun. In an article published on TIME.com, author Jack Linshi explores some of these fun, hidden extras. A few of my favorites are listed below.
5. GET YOUR GAME ON
- If you’re looking for a way to pass the time, search Atari Breakout in Google images to spawn a modern rendition of the classic game.
6. SCREEN TRICKS
- Here’s a fun way to play a trick on your friends. Search the word “tilt” to have your results appear a little off center, making them think something is wrong with their computer. Want to impress some people? Make your browser window do a barrel roll by searching, “do a barrel roll.” Cool, huh?
So, now that you have all of these new Google search tricks under your belt, you likely have a sense of power unlike no other. So go forth and search! Show those results who is boss. Too much?
Have some tips you would like to share? Leave a comment below or connect on Twitter – @HOOKDin! Also be sure to subscribe to receive more articles like these the minute they go live!