Searching with Google can be both a rewarding and also a frustrating experience. I have put together a few tips and tricks to optimise your search results. These are tips we use regularly at HostAfrica to help us stay in tune with the latest happenings in tech.
- Use quotes to search for an exact phrase. This is a well-known and simple trick. Searching for a phrase in quotes will result in pages that only contain the exact phrase. This means the exact words in the same order that you typed them. This is a quick way of narrowing down your search to the most relevant result.
- Use an asterisk in the quoted phrase to indicate variable or unknown words. This is less known. This search method allows you to leave out the words you do not know or are unsure of. It also allows you to find all the variations on a phrase. (ie “* is thicker than water”).
- Use a minus/hyphen sign to eliminate results containing certain words. One of my favourite tips. When searching for something such as “printer drivers” you will get results for Windows, Linux and Mac. If you are searching for Linux drivers, add -Windows -Mac to your search result. You could be searching for Afghan (the dog) and get Afghan (the carpet). Search for Afghan -carpet.
- Compare 2 options using “vs”. When comparing two similar objects ie cars you can search for “Ferrari vs. Porsche” and get a comparison
- Search news archives – these go back to the mid-1880’s. Google News has an option to search through more than 100 years worth of archived news from newspapers around the world. See https://news.google.com/newspapers?hl=en.
- Use the tabs. At the top of every search are a number of tabs. Using these tabs can help you define exactly what kind of search you need to do. If you need images, use the “Image” tab. If it’s news you are after, use the “News” tab. These tabs can cut search times down dramatically.
- Use a colon to search specific sites.There may be an instance where you need to Google search for articles or content on a certain website. The syntax is very simple and I’ll show you how. If you are looking for apples on the site fruit.com enter the following: apples:fruit.com
- Find sites that are similar to other sites. This is also a little-known feature. If you have a favourite site that may be getting a bit boring, or you want to find other sites similar to your own, use this trick. Search for “related:yoursite.com” to find all sites related in content to “yoursite.com”.
- Search for multiple words or phrases at once. Use the flexibility of the Google search engine. Use two words/phrases and put the word “OR” between them e.g “Good fish recipes” OR “Fresh fish preparation”.
- Search images using images. You can use Google image search to search for similar images by uploading your image and asking Google to find similar images.Use the “Camera” button to do this.
These are only a few tips – there are many more which are easy to find using, of all things, Google!