Google has long since become a synonym for Web search. You don’t search anymore. You Google. But if you’re like most people, you are probably not using Google Search to its full potential. For example, did you know that you can check flight schedules and prices right on the search results page? How about sports scores, movie times and word definitions? The following tips will streamline your search experience, save you valuable time and capture your imagination with new possibilities. Just don’t skip the basics!
Google Search is based upon a few core principles. Understanding them is key before you move on to the geekier stuff:
Start your search by typing the name of whatever you’re looking for:
[ cat grooming tips ]
[ broadway musical ]
[ pad thai recipe ].
Start with: [ cat ]
More precise: [ cat grooming ]
Even more precise: [ persian cat grooming guide ]
Getting the right results can take several attempts, so be patient!
[ depression ] is better than [ why am I feeling so down ] By typing terms that informative websites would use, Google is more likely to provide the information you want.
[ cows holy animals ] is better than [ country where cows are holy animals ] Google uses most of the words you search for to find matching content. Therefore, too many words will limit your results.
Google Search ignores punctuation, including @#%^*()=\ and other special characters.
[ to be or not to be ] will return the same results as [ to be, or not to be? ].
In some cases though, certain symbols and punctuation can improve search results:
Using any of the following symbols in your search gives you more control over the results. Most of these operators are also included in the Advanced Search page.
[ “search query” ]
This option can help finding a line from literature or song lyrics:
[ “here comes the rain” ] Use this option only when searching very precise words or phrases as the results will be limited.
[ -query ]
[ ~query ]
A tilde sign (~) immediately in front of a word will search for that word and for other synonyms:
[ ~fitness ideas ] will also return results for [ exercise ideas ].
[ site: query ]
[ query * query ]
For any unknown or ‘wildcard’ terms use an asterisk (*) as a placeholder within the query. Using quotations will help find variations of the exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of it:
[ “better * than *” ].
[ query OR query ]
Use OR (capitalized) between the words to search for pages that may have just one of several words:
[ eurovision 2010 OR 2012 ] [ “champions league 2012” OR “euro 2012” ].
[ number..number ]
[ related: ]
Found a website or blog you like? By using the related: operator you can find pages with similar content:
[ related:etsy.com/browse/vintage-category ].
[ filetype: ]
Search for specific types of files like PDFs, PPTs or XLS by adding filetype: and the 3-letter file abbreviation:
[ marathon training filetype:pdf ].
[ define: ]
Get word definitions by typing: define: in front of any word:
[ define:magnanimous ].
The following tips and tricks will enhance your search experience. But above all, they will save you a lot of time:
Google Search isn’t case sensitive.
A search for [ united states ] will return the same results as [ United States ].
There’s plenty of information you can get right on the search results page without any extra clicks. Some examples:
Get a map of a location by typing the city name or zip code followed by the word map. A click on the map will then open it on Google Maps:[ los angeles map ] [ 90210 map ].
As you get more and more familiar with Google Search, it’s time to move to the next level! As the search giant keeps innovating and developing products, our search experience becomes more complex, more exciting and more complete. Here are some of the latest features every Google guru should know about:
Control your search experience when logged into your Google account. Here you can choose how many results per page to display, SafeSearch content filters, location and more.
Instead of wasting time on trial and error searches you can tweak various search parameters and narrow down your results on the Advanced Search page. You can specify exact word or phrase searches, languages, last update, file type and more.
Found an amazing website on Google but you can’t remember the URL? There’s still hope! With Web History you can browse your past searches, get a graphic breakdown of your search activity, trends and more. Web History requires a Google account and will only work for searches you’ve done when signed into the same account.
Depending on the kind of search you perform, the Search Tools button will provide you with different options to refine your search. When searching for images, for example, you’ll be able to specify color, size, type and more.
Depending on your search query, the More drop down menu will show different categories to narrow down your search. For example, if you search for cameras the options will include Videos, News, Books and more.
Google’s search features like Spelling Corrections, Synonyms and Personalization are meant to help you. But they can also become a chore when you merely want to search using the exact keywords you typed. Verbatim enables you to do just that!
Knowledge Graph is one of Google’s latest search features. It enables you to find new relevant information when performing a search and save time.
Knowledge Graph is available on desktop, tablet and smartphone.
Sometimes you need to get quick information but your hands are not free or you have no time to type. Powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph, Voice Search enables you to get answers to any search-related questions:
Just click the microphone icon and ask away!
Voice Search works on mobile devices and on computers with a built-in or attached microphone. On phones that have the latest version of Google Search App for Android or iPhone, Voice Search can also speak the answer back to you!
If there’s an image you like on your computer or online, you can use it as a starting point for your search. For instance, an image of your favorite band can help you explore similar images and related web pages.