Google Search’s learning curve is a weird one. You use it every day, but still, all you know is how to search. Yet the search engine has a lot of tricks on its sleeve.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most useful Google search tricks, from simple tips to new features newly launched.
When searching for something specific, try using quotes to minimize Google search guessing. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole sentence.
For example, if you search for cute cat costumes, the engine will search for content that contains the three words in any order.
However, if you search “cute cat costumes” it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information that may be buried under other content if not sorted out correctly.
“cute cat costumes”
Use the Asterisk Wildcard
The asterisk wildcard is one of the most useful tricks on the list. This is how it works.
If you use an asterisk in a search word on Google Search, it will leave a placeholder that can be filled automatically by a search engine later. This is a brilliant way to find the lyrics to a song if you don’t know all the words. Let’s take a look at the syntax:
“Come *right now* me”
It might seem like nonsense to you or me. Google searches for that expression, though, recognizing that asterisks can be any word.
More often than not, you’ll find that they are lyrics to The Beatles classic “Come Together” and that’s what the search will show you.
Use a Minus Sign to Exclude Words
You may find yourself looking for a term with an unclear meaning. Like, if you Google search for Jaguar, you can get results for either the luxury car or the big jungle cat. If you wish to strip one off, use the hyphen to tell the engine to ignore the content of one out of the other. Please see the example below.
This tells the search engine to search for the term jaguar but to delete all results with the word “car” in it. It can be immensely useful to find information about something without getting information about something else.
Use a Colon to Search Specific Sites
There might be times where you need to search Google for posts or content on a specific website. The syntax is really simple, and we’re going to show you below.
Elon Musk site:space.com
This will scan for all content about Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, but only on space.com. Any other search results will be discarded. If you need to search for specific content on a particular platform, this is the workaround that you can use.
Find a Specific File
A frequently forgotten feature of Google Search is the ability to search for a particular file or file type. This can be infinitely helpful if you need a specific PDF or PowerPoint file that you have already viewed or need to use on another project. The syntax is simple:
coronavirus social distancing guidelines filetype:pdf
In the case above, simply replace the search term with whatever you’re looking for. Then use the filetype command and enter the extension of some file type you could think of.
This can mainly be useful for scholarly purposes, but company presentations and other varied presentations can also benefit from this kind of search.
Use Only Important Words
Google Search works by taking what you’re searching for and matching it with keywords in online content.
If you look for so many words, your results can be reduced. That means it could potentially take you longer to find what you’re searching for. It is, therefore, necessary to use only essential terms when looking for something. Let’s see an example:
- Don’t use: Where can I find dimsum.
- Instead try: Dimsum nearby.
- Or: Dimsum near me.
Using this will help Google find what you need without the clutter. So remember, keep it short and use only the most important words.
Use Words that Websites Would Use
This is a really interesting one. When people use Google search to scour the web, they usually search for information using the same language as they would use to speak.
Unfortunately, websites do not say it the way people do; instead, they tend to use a vocabulary that sounds formal. Let’s take a look at those examples:
- “I have a flat tire” could be replaced by “repair a flat tire.”
- “My stomach hurts” could be replaced by “stomach pain relief.”
When searching, try using the language you’ll find on a professional website. This would help produce more consistent results.
Search a Range of Numbers
Searching for a range of numbers is another tip that we don’t expect a lot of people to use. People who have, however, are likely to use it quite a bit.
This tip would be especially helpful to people interested in money or statistics. Essentially, you’re using two dots and a number to let Google search know that you’re searching for a particular range of numbers. See the following syntax:
- What teams have won the Stanley Cup ..2004
In the first instance, the search would get back the team that won the 2004 Stanley Cup. The two dots with only one number tell the search that you don’t need anything before or after 2004.
That would help narrow down searches to a small amount to maximize search performance.
In the second, Google looks for numbers 41, 42, and 43. It’s vague, but it’s incredibly helpful if you happen to need to check for numbers like this.
Find Sites Identical to Other Sites
It’s a unique one that could be used by almost anyone if they knew it existed.
Let’s just say that you’ve got a favorite website. It could be anything. But that website is getting a little boring, and you want to find more websites like that. You’re going to use this trick. Below is the following syntax:
If you search that above, you won’t find a link to nature.com. Instead, you’ll find links to sites with more or less the same kind of content as Nature.
Find a Page That Links to Another Page
This Google search tip is a little obscure. Instead of looking for a specific page, you are searching for a page that links to a specific page.
Look at this way: if you want to see who cited a Forbes article on their blog, you’d use this trick to find all the pages that refer to it. The syntax is as follows:
This returns all pages that link to the official website of Forbes. The URL on the right side can be almost anything.
Be mindful, though, that the more detailed it is the less data you’ll receive. We know that not a lot of users are going to use this Google search trick, but it may be really helpful for some of them.
Google Search is a versatile search tool. Using the tips mentioned above, you will find anything you might need on the World Wide Web.
Whether it’s skipping Wikipedia for a school essay assignment, searching for new stock prices, or even finding song lyrics, there’s a way to make Google search work for you.