10 Tips and Tricks to Boost Your Google Search Efficiency

The internet is a vast ocean of information, and Google is one of the most beloved search engines to help you navigate the waters. However, we’ve all experienced the pitfalls of searching – the frustration of getting inaccurate results and the time wasted as we try and try again to find the information we’re looking for. Why does a simple search become so difficult sometimes?

The fact is that internet searching can be easier if you use the right techniques. These Google search guidelines can help you quickly find the information you’re looking for without all the stress. There are a number of tricks you can use, and today we’re highlighting 10 of our favorites.

1.  Add search terms a few at a time. One of the first things Google mentions in its Tips & Tricks page is that the search engine will be kinder to you if you start simple. Start out with a search where you choose just 2 or 3 of the most related words. You can gradually add to this search if you don’t find what you’re looking for.

2.  Use Search Tabs. Google search is divided up into various categories, including: Videos, Images, News, Books, Maps, Shopping, Flights and Apps. The default setting is “Web” which includes everything – so if you’re looking for something specific, search within the specific tab instead.

3.  Use Quotes for Better Accuracy.  If you want to search a specific phrase, make it easier for Google to realize this – just group the words inside quotation marks and Google will search that exact phrase – and in that exact order. Only websites that have these specific words, in order, will appear in searches.

4.  Narrow or expand your search with AND & OR. Using the word AND between words (or phrases, using the quote technique above) can narrow your search because you’ll only get web page results that include BOTH words or phrases. On the other hand, you can expand your search using the word OR between words or phrases. This will give you search results that have either of the words/phrases.

5.  Get similar terms with the ‘~’ sign.  If you put a ~ sign right before a word, you are telling Google to search not only for that word, but also similar terms. This is a good idea when a word has a number of synonyms and you want these related words included in search results.

6.  Search specific sites by using a colon. If you are looking specifically for search results that come from one site in particular, you can tell Google to do this by typing out your search terms, and then site:name.com. For example the search – social media marketing site:smallbiztechnology.com – will return only results from Small Biz Technology that have those words in them.

7.  Take advantage of location based searches. If you have allowed Google to know your location, there is no need to include any extra location-based search terms if you want local information. For example, a search of ‘coffee shops’ will already assume your location and provide local results. If you are searching for information outside of your area, just type your search terms followed by the zip code (or city/state).

8.  Exclude words by using a hyphen.  If you are searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning, you can use a hyphen to exclude results that relate to a definition you aren’t looking for. For example, if you are looking for Mustang, but don’t want results relating to the car, Ford Mustang, you would type ‘Mustang -cars’ into the search bar and all results that have the word car in it would be eliminated.

9. Find sites similar to other sites. If you are looking for a website similar to one of your favorites or that will offer items similar to one that you’ve found, you can do a quick ‘related’ search to find them quickly. For example, lets say you want to find sites similar to Best Buy. Type related:bestbuy.com into the search and sites similar to Best Buy, but not the Best Buy site, will appear in your search.

10.   Search your web history. If you grant permission, Google will keep track of your web history – and then this history is searchable to you later on. Think, for example, of a time when you read a good article and then couldn’t seem to find it later on. If you had saved your search history you could have searched it and found it quickly.

Google is continually updating its search features to make online searches easier and to deliver the exact information you are after. Try these techniques to better communicate what you are searching, and you’ll see a huge boost in your search efficiency.

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Jennifer Peaslee

Jennifer has a Masters in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently working as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and researcher.

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