Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Google search tips from the Google search experts

[abridged version]

Typing “San Antonio Spurs” will show websites containing the phrase “San Antonio Spurs.” If you don’t use the quotes, Google will search for the terms “San,” “Antonio,” and “Spurs” individually and you might miss pages related to the team.

Don’t bother typing AND in your search queries – Google treats it like any other word. But using OR in all caps works. OR is great for finding synonyms and boilerplate language. Typing “Smith denied” OR “Smith claimed” OR “Smith argued” will find more pertinent websites about a controversy involving Smith. Rather than using NOT to exclude a search term, put a hyphen in front of the word. So if you’re visiting San Antonio but don’t want to visit the Alamo, type: “San Antonio” -Alamo. That will search for the phrase “San Antonio” on web pages that don’t have the word “Alamo.” No space between Alamo and the hyphen.

Typing define [space] [search term] in Google will offer dictionary definitions. You even get a definition if you type define pwned and other lingo. Google has words that aren’t in the dictionary.

Sometimes Google tries to be helpful and it uses the word it thinks you’re searching for — not the word you’re actually searching for. And sometimes a website in the results does not include all your search terms. Fix this by typing intext:[keyword]. It forces the search term to be in the body of the website.

If you only want search results for web pages published in the past week, past month, or some other time frame, you can click on that option on the left-hand side of the search results page under Show search tools.

What if you’re curious about search terms that are near each other on a website? [keyword] AROUND(n) [keyword] is incredibly handy for finding related terms. “n” is the number of words near the search terms. Typing “Jerry Brown” AROUND(3) “Tea Party” will show you all the websites where the phrase “Jerry Brown” was mentioned within three words of “Tea Party.”

Let’s say you’re searching Google Maps for a specific hotel in San Antonio and check out one of the results. If you want to know what’s near the hotel, in the Google Maps search bar, type an asterisk. The results will show you every single place Google knows about in that map view (zoom in first). So you can see nearby businesses, stores, and whatever else is around.

The search operator site:[url] restricts your search to that particular website. It’s one of the most useful searches out there.

All these search terms work with Google Alerts. Google will email you whenever it crawls new websites containing terms you’re interested in.

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