The Google Search Engine can lead you to an infinite amount of information. Using it effectively allows you to make the best use of your search time to get better results. NOTE: Many of these same tips can be used in other search engines, such as Bing.
1. Use the tabs
On the top of every search are a number of tabs. ( Web, Image, News, etc.). These tabs help define what kind of search you need to do. If you need images, use the Image tab. If you are looking for a recent news article, use the News tab.
2. Use quotes
When searching for something specific, use quotes to narrow down the search. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole phrase. For instance, if you search for HattiesburgComputer Doctor, the engine will search for content that contains those three words in any order. However, if you search “Hattiesburg Computer Doctor”, it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information buried under millions of web pages.
3. Use a hyphen to exclude words
Sometimes you may find yourself searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning. An example is Mustang. When you Google search for Mustang, you may get results for both the car made by Ford or the horse. Using the hyphen will tell Google to ignore content with certain details.
This tells the search engine to search for mustangs but to remove results with the word “car” in it. This is a very helpful, simple thing to do to achieve better results.
4. Use a colon to search specific sites
When you need to search for articles or content on a certain website, the colon is your friend. Below is an example:
This will search for all content about Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but only on NFL.com. It will exclude all other search results. This especially comes in handy when performing targeted research
5. Find a page that links to another page
This Google search tip is useful in specific situations. Instead of searching for a specific page, you are searching for a page that links to a specific page. For example, if you want to see who cited a Clarion Ledger article on their site, you would use this trick to find all the sites that link to it. For example:
This will return all pages that link to the Clarion Ledger official website. Remember, the more specific it is, the fewer results you will get.
6. Use the asterisk wildcard
The asterisk wildcard is one of the most useful yet least known tips. When you use the asterisk in a Google search, the search engine will automatically fill it later. This would be a way to find song lyrics if you do not know all the words, for example:
Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word. (This example leads to a favorite of my kids, The Beatles song “Come Together”.)
7. Find sites that are similar to other sites
This could be used by practically everyone if they knew it existed. Let’s say you have a favorite website. It can be anything. However, that website is getting a little bit boring and you want to find other websites like it. You would use this trick:
If you search that above, you will not find a link to Amazon. Instead, you will find links to online stores like Amazon. Sites like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and others that sell physical items online. It’s a powerful Google search tool that can help you find new sites to browse.
8. Search for multiple words at once
Sometimes you will not find what you want by searching only a single word or phrase. Thus, it lets you search for multiples. By using this trick, you can search for one word or phrase along with a second word or phrase. This can help narrow down your search to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Here is the syntax.
By searching that, you will search both phrases (using the quotes). Remember the quotes tip above? It is being used here as well. In this instance, these two exact phrases will be searched. It can be done by word too, like the example below.
This will search for pages that have either chocolate or white chocolate!
9. Keep it simple
Google search knows how to search for many things. What this means is you do not need to be too specific. If you need a pizza place nearby, use this to search.
Google search will grab your location (it is surprisingly accurate, using your network connection information for location details) and deliver a variety of results about pizza places that are near you.
10. Gradually add search terms
There will come a time when Google search does not shovel out the results you expect. In this instance, keeping it simple may not be the best option. The best method is to start with something simple then gradually get more complicated. See the example below.
This will gradually refine the search to bring you fewer, more targeted terms. The reason you do not go straight from the first try to the third try is you may miss what you are looking for by skipping the second step. Millions of websites phrase the same information in a number of different ways; using this technique lets you search as many of them as possible to find the best info.
11. Use words that websites would use
When people use Google search to hunt the web, they generally search for things using the same language that they would use for speaking. Unfortunately, websites do not say things the way people do. Try to use language that sounds professional:
When searching, try to use terminology you would find on a professional website for results that are more reliable.
12. Use important words only
The way Google search works is to take what you search for and match it with keywords in online content. When you search for too many words, it may limit your results. That means it may actually take you longer to find what you are looking for. Use only the important words when searching for something. Keep it simple and use important words only.
13. Google search has shortcuts
A number of commands can be entered to give you instantaneous results. Google can immediately give you the information you need right at the top of the search results. This can save time and effort so you do not have to click a bunch of links. Here are a few examples:
14. Spelling does not necessarily matter
Google search has gotten a lot smarter over the years. These days, you do not even need to spell words correctly. As long as it is close, Google can usually figure out what it means. Here are some examples.
This trick is great if you happen to forget how to spell something or are not altogether sure how something is spelled. It can also be helpful when searching for obscure words. This applies to capitalization and grammar as well.
15. Find a specific file
An often forgotten feature of Google search is the ability to search for a specific file or file type. This can be infinitely useful if you need a specific PDF or PowerPoint file that you previously viewed or need to use for another project. The syntax is quite simple.
In the above example, you simply replace the search term with whatever you are searching for. Then use the filetype command and enter the extension of any file type you can think of. This can mostly be useful for scholarly purposes, but business presentations and other assorted presentations can benefit from this kind of search as well.
16. Money and unit conversions
Google search can quickly and accurately convert both measurement units and currency value. There is a variety of uses for this, like checking to see the conversion rate between two currencies. If you happen to be a math student, you can use it to convert from feet to meters or from ounces to liters.
How about you? Do you have other search engine tips to share? Please post them in the comments section below.