It’s a familiar frustration for most of us: You type your precise, specific search terms into Google, and expect to find what you need on the first page.
Instead, you’re faced with millions of search results, and the first few links are so off-the-wall unrelated you wonder if you mistyped something.
But your search terms are correct, so why doesn’t Google know what you’re looking for? And how are you supposed to narrow down the millions of irrelevant results?
Though Google keeps improving their algorithms, there are still plenty of terms that stymie the search engine. Without context, it’s hard for Google to know exactly what you’re looking for, especially if your inquiry is highly specific.
Luckily, Google has quite a few hidden tips and tricks for searching that will help you quickly find exactly the results you’re looking for.
Just by learning a few formatting and punctuation tricks, you can tell Google how your search terms are related, or exclude certain words or phrases. You can also narrow down your search with criteria like location or pricing, or use Google to search within a single website.
If you’re still not getting the results you need, Google has several other little-known features that can widen your search. Webmasters can easily find images for their websites and blogs with Google Images, and researchers need only visit Google Books or Google Scholar to search through print publications and research papers in any field.
Faster and more accurate searches aren’t the only benefit to becoming a Google power user. Google also has a few hidden functions you can unlock with the right search query, including calculations and conversions, stock quotes and sports scores, and film showings and flight statuses. With the right search, you can get immediate results telling you the current weather and today’s sunrise and sunset times, or quickly look up the definition of a word and get a translation into one of dozens of available languages.
With the time you save as a Google power user, you’ll even be able to fit in a game of Atari Breakout on Google Images. Just follow the steps below to find out how!
How to Be a Google Power User
Search engines are the backbone of our everyday internet use. We all use them almost daily – but not everyone is aware of the hidden tips and tricks available that’ll help you improve the results and speed of your search.
Here are some pointers that’ll save you Googling ‘how to Google’.
Here’s how to get the most out of your everyday Google searches.
Search exact phrases
- If you’re looking for an exact phrase, use quotation marks.
- “let them eat cake”
Exclude a word
- Add a hyphen before a word to exclude a search term. This is useful if you are searching for a word with several meanings.
- inception -movie
Search within a site
- Get results from certain domains. recipes
- Find sites with similar content to a URL you already know.
Search for words in text
- Find pages where the all terms appear in the text.
- allintext: holidays hot bargain
- Find pages where the one terms appear in the text, and other terms appear elsewhere in the document (e.g. title or URL)
- john lennon intext:liverpool
Search for words in title
- Find pages whose title contains all words in the search.
- allintitle: the big lebowski review
- Find pages whose title contains a particular word in the title, with other terms appearing elsewhere in the document (e.g. in the text or URL)
- flu shot intitle:help
Search for words in URL
- Find pages with the search query mentioned in the URL.
- allinurl: bbc news
Find news related to a particular location
- Use this on Google News to find stories coming from a particular location.
- prince george location:auckland
Search for a particular filetype
- Google will restrict results to pages that end in
- annual report 2014 filetype:pdf
Search for a number range
- Separate numbers by two periods to see results that contain numbers in the given range.
- dslr $300..$500
- An asterisk works as a wildcard, and helps you find the missing word in a phrase.
- there is a * that never goes *
- If you want to find pages with one of several words, use a capitalized OR. Without OR, results would show pages that include all the terms.
- olympics 2012 OR 2016
Aside from the examples above, Google doesn’t usually recognize punctuation and grammar. However, punctuation and symbols that do work in Google search include:
- + when searching for things such as blood type
- @ when searching for social tags
- & when searching for strongly connected ideas and phrases
- % when searching for percent values
- $ when searching for prices
- # when searching for trending topics that use hashtags
- when searching for words that are strongly connected
Google Search Features
Google also has a few special search features that will help you find what you’re looking for, faster.
- weather <city>
- weather brooklyn
- <stock code>
- time <city>
- time melbourne
- <team name>
- manchester united
Sunrise & Sunset Times
- sunset <city>
- sunset honolulu
- <amount+unit 1>to <unit 2>
- 10 miles to km
- define <term>
- define jingoism
- translate <word> to <language>
- translate pomme to English
- <flight number>
- BA 117
- Movies <postalcode>
- movies M11EZ
- <tracking number>
- ip address
- .. will give you your public IP address.
And besides using search terms, Google also offers you a host of other ways to search.
Google Search Tricks – A useful app for enhancing your Google searches and getting the most of the search engine.
Google Images – lets you to search for images related to a particular word or phrase. You can also upload or link to an image to find more about it, or similar images.
Google Goggles – lets you search the web using your mobile phone’s camera instead of words. Simply take a picture of the item you want to search for, and look at the results.
Google Trends – lets you explore trending search topics on Google and look at what other people are searching.
Google Books – lets you search and preview books from millions of publishers around the world.
Google Scholar – lets your search for theses, abstracts and articles.
And for those who just want to have a bit of fun, try some of these search terms in Google:
- do a barrel roll
- the loneliest number
- google in 1998
- google sphere
- Atari breakout
For most, Google is already an incredibly useful resource, but by following these tricks and tips, you can transform it into your most valuable research tool.