Boost Search Speed and Improve Results

I use Google many times a day, a big part of answering work questions, doing research, or otherwise finding information online. This search engine became a mainstream tool partly because of its simple, powerful results. But hidden, advanced techniques can get you better information with less hunting.

These are some of my favorite Google tricks, among many. Just enter your terms in a browser's Google search bar or directly at the site.

And searches: If you're familiar with Boolean search operators, Google uses "and" to include every listed term. Google also weights the first terms more than the last, so type them in the order of importance. If you include a common word, such as "the," or "1," it'll ignore that term. Be sure to manually add that item by adding "+" directly in front, without a space. (Additionally, you can put quotation marks around a full phrase to specific that exact string.)

And not searches: Google's advanced search page can omit results containing certain words, but you can do the same thing in a standard search. Just type "-[your word]" to toss undesired results, such as the full search term "bass fishing –music".

Search specific sites: Google often gives better results than a site's built-in search function. Or avoid hunting for that little box on an unknown site. Just type your search term and then add "site:[domain name]", such as "router review site:pcworld.com".

Make conversions: Convert all sorts of units, including weight, currency, and distance. Type the known item, "in", and the unknown unit, such as "10 km in miles" or "10,000 U.S. dollars in yen".

Track packages: Just enter a shipper's tracking number to get tracking results and links for major delivery companies.

Dictionary and spellcheck: Often handier than reaching for another reference--or searching for one--Google can look up definitions and spellings. Define words by typing "define:[word or phrase]" such as "define:maverick". Spellcheck just by typing your guess as the search term, and see if Google asks if you meant something else.

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