Most internet addicts can barely resist the urge to Google any new expression or unfamiliar title or celebrity, especially those of us with a smart phone glued to our hand. And those of us who must Google things immediately, search results may not always hit the mark. There are many search tricks to refine results to make each of us a better detective – here are 10 to get you closer to the answers you are seeking.
1. Be specific with double quotes.
Search for specific terms, and ask Google to not correct you, by using double quotes around your search phrase. It also keeps your phrase intact instead of displaying pages that have the words you seek dispersed about the page.
2. Search within a single site.
In the Google search box, use the search operator site:yoursite.com to return results from a single website, where you replace “yoursite.com” with whatever domain you wish. One example of this is to search site:wired.com “zombies” to see any article by wired.com on zombies. Search site:aikenstandard.com “Techy Ten” to find other Techy Ten articles available on aikenstandard.com.
3. Include synonyms.
Include a tilde (~) before any term to include synonyms. The tilde key is to the left of your number 1 key and you must hold shift to use it. The search ~brown may include tan, beige, khaki and so on.
4. Include a range of numbers for years.
If your search includes a specific time, include the numbers with two dots between them to signify a range. Include the phrase “1990..2000” to look for pages that include the 90s. You can also use this trick to look up items within a price range for comparative shopping.
5. Exclude words or sites in your search.
So your search has sites that have nothing to do with what you're looking for. You can exclude those sites entirely. Use a minus (-) sign before any term or site operator to refine your results. Example: “Stacey Mosier” -site:aikenstandard.com.
6. Reverse image search.
Sometimes you may see an image on Facebook or Pinterest and wonder where it originally came from. Go to Google's image search and click on the camera icon at the right end of the search bar. You can either supply the url to an image or upload it from your computer to ask Google to look for other instances of it online. Use this trick to find more information about an image, such as who's blogged about it, shared it on Flickr, or perhaps even find the original source. This is useful for finding names of artists and photographers.
7. Convert units immediately.
Ask Google to convert units for you by searching right from google.com. Start with your current measurement and add “to,” then the conversion that you need. The search phrase “1 Gallon to cups” returns “16”, and also Google displays an interactive tool to look for other related units of measurement.
8. Get the current time of any city.
Can you convert time immediately for different time zones? I'm not so good at it, either. Search time: and any major city to have Google display the current time for you. Example: “time:San Francisco, CA”
9. Define any term.
Quite a simple tip – include define: before any term to have Google define it for you.
10. Find sites that link to yours.
Do you want to know who else has linked back to your site? Why would you? Search engines see interlinking between websites as a sign of relativity and trust, but also this is a trick to see who is (or isn't) crediting you for your work, especially for artists and writers. Search link:yoursite.com to see who currently links to your site.
Bonus: Are you looking for the answer to life, the universe and everything? Ask Google.
Stacey Mosier is a web developer and graduated from USC-Aiken in 2010.