Google processes more than 40,000 search queries per second. If you do the math, that adds up to 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. Although Google is my favorite search engine, it was only a few years ago that I learned there are many different ways to execute a Google search that will yield more targeted results. The following tools and operations will help you search more efficiently.
- Private Results: The default on your browser is probably private results. This means that Google chooses the pages it returns based on personal information it knows about you, such as your location. For example, if you search “shopping mall” it will return information about the closest shopping malls to you. If you turn this setting off, you will see untargeted, or universal, results. While usually this setting is helpful, turning it off can help avoid biased information, or missing information.
- Image Search Tools: When searching for images, Google provides a tab called Search tools. These tools allow you to search for photos according to their dimensions, color, type, time posted and usage rights. With Google’s Advanced Image Search, you can also search according to what website is hosting the image, the aspect ratio, file type and more.
- Search Operators: Using specific punctuation and symbols when searching can help you quickly narrow your results, and find the content you’re looking for without sifting through tons of pages. All of these operators are combinable; however, make sure you do not add any spaces in between the operators.
- – Use a dash before a word or a website to exclude that word or website from search results. This is helpful for words that have multiple meanings. For example, to look for information about pumas, but you want to exclude information relating to Puma athletic wear, your query should look something like this: “puma -athletic”, this will ensure that no results containing “athletic” will appear.
- “ ” Use quotations to look for an exact word or phrase. Google will only return results containing the phrase you searched for with all of the words in the order you requested. For example: “Episode VII The Force Awakens”
- * Input an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown words. Essentially Google will fill in the blanks where there is an asterisk. For example: “ don’t * your * before they hatch” This can be helpful in searching keywords in resumes.
- site: This operator allows you to search within a specific site or domain. For example “public relations site:wikipedia.org”. To do the opposite and exclude any Wikipedia results from the search, use a dash. The query now becomes “public relations –site:wikipedia.org”
- related: Use this operator to find websites that are similar to a specific website you already know. For example “related:facebook.com”.
- OR To find pages that might use different similar words, insert “OR” in between them. For example “album OR record” This will make sure you don’t miss any results just because the content uses a different word that essentially means the same thing.
- info: Use this operator to get more information about a website, such as pages that link to the site, similar sites, etc. For example “info:boston.com”
- cache: Google takes a snapshot of each webpage every so often in case the current page becomes unavailable. For example, if Time Magazine’s website crashed, but you simply had to read the news, you could search “cache:time.com” and Google will show you the page as it appeared in the latest snapshot.
Google’s Advanced Search has even more options, including narrowing your results by region, last update, language, etc.