Google Search Tricks
Monday, 9th August 2010
We're all familiar with the process of opening Google, typing in a search and pressing "Google Search" to find stuff, but that doesn't always give us exactly what we're after. Don't despair though as there are some funky tricks you can perform to hone the results and find exactly what you need.
The trick I use most often is to pop double quotes around my search phrase, as this will then look for an exact match to the entire phrase. For example, if you want to find me online, you might type:
This will find pages that contain both "Steve" and "Fenton", but not necessarily next to each other - so you might find a page that contains "Steve said hello to Bob Fenton" as it contains the two words you searched for. If you adjust your search to:
This will find web pages that contain the exact phrase, which narrows down your search.
Another clever technique is to tell Google about words you don't want to find. This is useful if you find that your search results are clogged with pages containing a word that you want to filter out. So if you search for
And you didn't want to find me, you could add a minus-search like this:
This would get you pages that contain the word "Fenton" but that do not have the word "Steve".
This kind of search does the opposite to the techniques described above. This search will actually broaden your results. It is very clever though, so it deserves a mention. With the synonym search, you can get Google to fetch you more information by searching for a word, or any of its synonyms. For example, say you performed this search and couldn't find what you are after:
You can use the synonym search to ask Google to search for bicycle, bike, pedal-cycle and more...
Google used to have a handy feature whereby for every search you performed it looked up the word in a dictionary and supplied a link so you could find out what the word meant. They don't do this any more as it just slows down the search, which for most people isn't about finding a dictionary. You can still perform a definition search by adding "define:" to the start of the search, like this:
You will now get a different type of results page telling you all about your search term.
These are the most useful search tricks for Google, but you can find more on the Google Search Cheat Sheet.