Have you ever gone onto Google and typed in a search phrase, only to be flooded with results that are nowhere near the mark of the information you hoped to find?
While Google, Bing, and other leading search engines do perform miracles and strive to deliver relevant results for every search request, there are limits to its capabilities, particularly for broad keyword requests. For instance, if you type in “pool supplies,” are you referring to a swimming pool or a pool table?
The good news is that you don’t need years of SEO training under your belt to learn how to refine and maximize the search results you want to get.
The following tricks work specifically with Google but are likely to work equally well with other search engines, such as Bing. If a different search engine does not recognize one of these Google search tricks, then search on that engine for their own shortcuts and tricks. For example, if you prefer Bing over Google, go to Bing and search for “Bing advanced search.”
Refining Your Google Search
Finding information on social media: Let’s say that you want to read the latest tweets on Twitter concerning the football season. Instead of typing in “NFL” or “football season,” where you will get results relating to the NFL or football from all online sources, add “@twitter” to the beginning of the search (“@twitter NFL”) and immediately start reading tweets about the NFL.
Finding prices for an item: Here’s another situation that often arises; you want to know if there are any used 2015 Hondas for sale for $5,000. Instead of typing in “2015 Hondas for sale” (which will return tons of 2015 Hondas at every imaginable price), simply add a dollar symbol ($) in front of the number like this: “2015 Hondas $5000.” You just told Google to list all 2015 Hondas priced at $5,000. Since few Hondas will be exactly priced at $5,000, you might choose to add a range of prices: change your search result to “2015 Hondas $4000..$6000” (insert two periods between the price range without spaces) to find 2015 Hondas priced between $4,000 and $6,000.
Exclude words that should not show up in search results: Have you ever performed a search only to moan “That’s not what I want!” when the result kicks up something seemingly out of place. However, after further consideration, you can see why Google listed the results they did. Here is a classic example: you are doing a paper for your class on zoology and need to know the top speed of an impala, the amazingly swift African antelope. If you type in “impala top speed,” be prepared to learn all about the Chevy Impala, which also can go very fast but is not what your teacher wants to read about. Instead, search for “impala top speed -car” to eliminate any results that are talking about the Impala car model.
Advanced Google Search Techniques
Sometimes you need to use more than one of the refined search tricks explained above. Of course, Google has already come up with a solution for that problem: the advanced search page. Instead of heading directly to “https://www.google.com/” for your next search, dig a little deeper into Google by going to “https://www.google.com/advanced_search” (if you click that link, it will open up a new tab that you can use to follow along with the below explanations).
There, you will find an excellent layout with two sections to help you come up with the most detailed and nuanced search result you could imagine. The first section will help you “find pages with…”:
- All the words in the search phrase
- An exact word or phrase
- Any words in the phrase
- Eliminating these words from the results
- A range of numbers added to the search request
Next, you can apply filters to “narrow your results by”:
- Latest update
- Specific site (great for exploring mega sites like Amazon or Wikipedia)
There are also four lesser used filters you can work with:
- “Terms appearing” lets you focus on the title of the page, web address, links, or the page URL
- “Safe Search” allows you to filter out explicit results and content
- “File type” empowers you to uncover specific files, such as PDFs, RTFs (rich text format), Microsoft Excel and Word files, in addition to other file formats
- “Usage rights” helps you to find material that is free to use and share, even for commercial purposes
As if that were not enough, you can even perform advanced searches of images with most of the refinements and filters as outlined above, along with a few others directly related to images, such as image types and sizes, aspect ratios, and colors. If you want to try that out, go to “https://www.google.com/advanced_image_search” and start your detailed image search!
Now you have an idea of the real power of Google and can start searching just like the experts! Want to learn more search engine tricks for Google, Bing, and alternative search engines? Contact us and let us know what’s on your mind. We are here to help and inform new and experienced computer users, just like you!
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