12 Tips To Make Smarter Google Searches

by John Carroll on May 30, 2012

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Google can do a lot more than simple keyword searches. Here are 12 tips I think you’ll find useful.


1. Search For An Exact Phrase. 

If you want to confine your search to an exact phrase or word string, place your search inside double quotation marks.

The search below looks for pages that contain the phrase “child safety around water”.

Google Exact Search
2. Search An Individual Site. 

To narrow your search within a single site use the query (search words) site:(the site name)

Below is a search for a blue evening dress limited to the Nordstrom site.

Google Site Search
3. Eliminate Words Or Sites From A Search Result.

Placing a minus sign in front of a word or a site will remove them from search results.

In the search below, I’m looking for Hollywood restaurants, but I don’t want to see listings that contain the words “thai” or “fast food” and I want to exclude all listings from the Yelp website.

Google Exclusionary Search
4. Search For A File Type.

If you’re looking for a specific file on a website, you can quickly get what you want using the query (name of site) (name of document) filetype:(file format)

The search below was written to search the DMV website for the SR1 Accident Report Form in pdf format. It saves a huge amount of time when you can jump straight to the document you need.

Google File Type Search
5. Broaden Your Search.

Placing a tilde in front of a search string opens up the search to include related areas.

Searching for ~Utah Beach brings back a list of other beaches associated with D. Day.

Google Related Ideas Search
6. Cache Search – Find What No Longer Exists.

Google indexes the entire internet. As part of this process it stores copies of site pages in a place called the cache. It’s a snapshot of a page at a particular moment in time.

The cache for a page can be accessed through the Google search page as shown below.

Google Cache Search

If you look at the top of a cached page, you will find the date and time that snapshot was taken.

This is incredibly useful if you’re looking for information and your search ends at a site that is no longer online. Even with the site down, Google may have pages stored in the cache.


7. Get Help With Definitions.

If you need definitions for words or phrases in English or other languages use the query define:(word or phrase)

Google Word Definition
8. Convert Anything.

Using the search string (Unit A) in (Unit B) will prompt Google to perform a unit conversion.

Below, I asked for 5 years to be converted into seconds.

Google Conversion
9. Search Within A Range Of Numbers.

You can search within a ranges of prices, dates or whatever numbers you deem important by including the numbers separated by two periods.


10. Booking Flights & Getting Flight Information.

Entering a departure and destination city or airport will generate booking links for relevant flights from all the major travel sites.

Enter an airline and flight number and you’ll get up-to-date information on that flight’s departure and arrival times.

Google Flight Info
11. Look For A Book.

Use the query, book (name of book) and Google will return a list of relevant sites and a short plot synopsis from Wikipedia.

Google Book Search
12. Jump The Queue Before You Go To The Movies.

Using the search movie:(name of movie) provides quick access to showtimes, tickets, reviews and trailers for a movie.

Google Movie Search

If you’d like more information on how to use Google take a look at the Google Guide website by Nancy Blachman.

12 Tips To Make Smarter Google Searches was last modified: November 9th, 2012 by John Carroll
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