If you’re like most people, you use Google a lot. 80% of us use it to search the internet and find what we need, but very few people know about the special tools Google provides to help you find what you need faster and with less effort.
The good news is it’s incredibly easy to “Google Like A Pro”. All you need to do is remember these seven tips:
1) The minus sign.
Sometimes Google finds TOO MUCH. Let’s say that for some reason you want to learn more about grease, the oily substance. If you just Google grease the first page of results will be about the movies and musicals named “Grease”. You could keep scrolling to page 2, and page 3, and page 47 looking for what you really want, OR you can use the minus sign to tell Google what you DON’T want.
Use the minus sign to tell Google what you don’t want to see in the results. For example, if I google
Grease –film –musical
I’ll get the same results as if I just google grease but without ANY websites that talk about the film or the musical.
I use this one all the time. Let’s say you remember part of a song lyric, or a news article, or a quote from a famous person, and you want to learn the rest. If you’re sure about the phase you remember, put it in quotes and Google will only show web pages which have that exact phrase on them.
For example, if I want to look up information about Jim Carter, an actor in the TV show Downton Abbey, I could just google his name. Four or five listings down will be the information I want, underneath information about a Jim Carter auto dealership and Jimmy Carter, the former president. If I want to exclude the Jimmy Carter listings I could search on
which will only show pages that have those words exactly in that order and with that spelling.
3) Quote single word
Another helpful use of the quotation marks is when you quote a single word. Why would you do that? Well, Google is always trying to be helpful and sometimes it can be too helpful.
For example, try googling the word Amazzzing (with two Z’s). Google suspects you meant to type Amazing (with one z) and will show results accordingly. But maybe you really did want to find New York Comedienne Mandy Mazzeo, who goes by the Twitter nickname aMAZZing. How do you force Google to show what you asked for without trying to be helpful? The answer is to put the word in quotes, so in this case
will show the results you want.
Maybe you know what website has the article or information you need, but you can’t find it on the site. Or it’s just too time-consuming to browse through that site’s menus or directories. Google’s site command was built for exactly this situation.
For example, if I know there was an article about Computer Troubleshooters in Entrepreneur magazine, I can google this:
site:entrepreneur.com computer troubleshooters
This will show me any references to Computer Troubleshooters on the website entrepreneur.com. Very helpful, especially when looking for news articles.
5) Capitalization & Punctuation Don’t Matter
This is an easy one: Don’t waste time capitalizing or punctuating your search terms, because they almost never matter. Capitalization almost never matters. Google just ignores it, usually, so searching on “Greenville Drive” or “greenville drive” or even “gReEnvIlLe DRIve” will all yield the same results.
Punctuation does not matter 99% of the time. Adding a period or exclamation point won’t generally change your searches. There are a few exceptions though – if you’re searching for a price then adding a dollar sign ($) will change things. (Try searching “1942” vs “$1942” to see the difference). And periods in a number are searched, so 100.14 will show any website that uses that particular number for some reason.
6) Wildcard *
Sometimes you might remember a phrase but forget one word. Or maybe you want to look for variations on a phrase. When you include the wildcard character * in your search, google looks for all possible replacements for that word, and shows the results. This works best when combined with the quotes tool to search for a specific phrase.
For example, the literary quote “It was the best of times” is pretty well known, but let’s say you’re drawing a blank on some of the words. Googling
“It was the * of *”
will bring up the quote you’re looking for as well as other phrases that fit that same format, like “It was the blurst of times” (quote from The Simpsons) and “It was the culmination of an ongoing struggle”.
7) Add Location
Very often you don’t just want any search results, you want to find search results close to home. For example searching on “mechanic” or “computer repair” by itself will bring up lots of general information on the topics and maybe a few national vendors. You might even see the Google Map results showing companies that Google thinks are near you – but that’s not always correct. (When I’m in the office Google thinks I’m in Greenville, even though I’m in Anderson).
To get more specific, add your city & state to your search terms. A search for “mechanic Anderson, sc” will show you the local options for auto service in Anderson, South Carolina. (If you leave off the “SC” you’ll also find listings for Anderson Indiana so the state is important).
(By the way, if YOUR business isn’t coming up when people do this search for your category, you may be missing out on potential clients! Ask Computer Troubleshooters for help getting listed properly in the search results).
Have some fun!
Google’s engineers are a clever bunch, and they’ve included some “just for fun” search results too. Try going to www.google.com and entering either of these search terms to see the results: