by Dharmesh Shah
If you’re like me, you probably use Google many times a day. But chances are, unless you’re a technology geek, you probably still use Google in its simplest form. If your current use of Google is limited to typing in a few words and changing your query until you find what you’re looking for, then I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way — and it’s not hard to learn.
On the other hand, even if you are a technology geek and can use Google like the best of them already, I still suggest you bookmark this article of Google search tips. Then, you’ll then have the tips on hand when you’re ready to pull your hair out in frustration watching a neophyte repeatedly type in basic queries in a desperate attempt to find something.
The following Google search tips are based on my own experience and things that I actually find useful. The list is by no means comprehensive, but, I assure you that by learning and using the 12 tips below, you’ll rank up there with the best of the Google experts out there. I’ve kept the descriptions of the search tips intentionally terse, as you’re likely to grasp most of these simply by looking at the example from Google anyway.
12 Expert Google Search Tips
1) Explicit Phrase
Let’s say you’re looking for content about inbound marketing. Instead of just typing inbound marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase. To do this, simply enclose the search phrase within double quotes.
Example Search: “inbound marketing”
2) Exclude Words
Let’s say you want to search for content about inbound marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising. To do this, simply use the “-” sign in front of the word you want to exclude.
Example Search: inbound marketing -advertising
3) Site-Specific Search
Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase. Even if the site doesn’t support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the “site:somesite.com” modifier.
Example Search: “inbound marketing” site:www.smallbusinesshub.com
4) Similar Words and Synonyms
Let’s say you want to include a word in your search, but also want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. To do this, use the “~” in front of the word.
Example Search: “inbound marketing” ~professional
5) Specific Document Types
If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier “filetype:”. For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to inbound marketing.
Example Search: “inbound marketing” filetype:ppt
6) This OR That:
By default, when you conduct a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search. If you’re looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator. (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).
Example Search: inbound marketing OR advertising
7) Phone Listing
Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number, and you don’t know who it is. If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.
Example Search: phonebook:617-555-1212 (Note: The provided number does not work. You’ll have to use a real number to get any results.)
8) Area Code Lookup
If all you need to do is to look up the area code for a phone number, just enter the 3-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from.
Example Search: 617
9) Numeric Ranges
This is a rarely used but highly useful tip. Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers. You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods). This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices, or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.
Example Search: president 1940..1950
10) Stock (Ticker Symbol)
Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term, and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumbnail chart for the stock.
Example Search: GOOG
The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression into Google.
Search Example: 48512 * 1.02
12) Word Definitions
If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the “define:” command.
Search Example: define:plethora