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10 Power User Tips for Google Search

By sudharsan

May 5, 2010
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Oh, Google. What can’t you do? It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the world’s omnipresent search giant.

tips for google search

While Google Search is wonderful, many users don’t fully take advantage of it’s many nuances and features. Here are some tips and tricks that Power Users employ to make the most of Google’s incredible search capabilities.

Site-Specific Searches

Though many websites have search functions on their home page, you don’t have to navigate there first to search for specific articles and posts. Simply use the “site” operator in your searches from Google or the address bar of Google Chrome.

To limit queries to just one site, the syntax is “ Sarah Palin”, or something to that effect.

Exclude Unwanted Keywords

This one’s incredibly easy and seems obvious in retrospect. If you’d like to filter out certain keywords from your searches, simply subtract them in the search bar.

For example, “digital cameras -nikon” would give you all the camera results excluding those mentioning Nikon.

Using The Cache

Sometimes sites go down or posts and articles are deleted after you’ve read them. Thankfully, Google keeps a cache of all material for a certain period of time, so all you have to do to find it is use the cache operator like so: “ Healthcare reform” to view old copies of the material.

This can also be used as a simple proxy to get around firewalls at work to view restricted material.

Quick And Dirty Spell Checking

One of the ironies of writing and working on your computer all day long is that you sometimes forget the spellings of common words that ordinarily wouldn’t challenge you.

Every time you misspell a search term in Google’s search, it will offer an alternative spelling listed at the top under “Did You Mean…?”. It’s any easy way to spell check on the fly.

Google As Calculator, Almanac, World Clock…

If you want to find the answer to a mathematical problem quickly, just type it into the search bar. You can also use Google to find the local time in another city halfway across the world, to look up a stock quote, or to do currency
between the Yen and the Euro.

Compare And Contrast

Google can also be used to give you search results that compare different products or services without having to hit up Amazon. Phrases such as “better than”, “looks like” and “similar to” help refine your search.

For instance, type in “better than Dell computers” to find results that list reviews of competitors’ PCs, suggestions for alternatives and other information.

Search By File type

You can narrow down searches to specific document formats and types, like PDFs and .doc files in tandem with other search operators to locate exactly what you’re looking for.

As a quick example, you could enter “motorola droid filetype:ppt” to find any PowerPoint slides on the Motorola Droid phone on

The Tried And True OR Operator

Not the sexiest trick on our list, but it stands the test of time. Using the OR operator with any number of keywords allows you to cast a broad net when you’re researching an obscure topic and there isn’t a lot of information available.

Quotes Are Your Friend

Yet another one from the files of Web Search 101, using quotes to zero in on a specific phrase keeps you from getting results that just happen to have the same keywords you’re looking for but in an unrelated way. Using “cheap flights to Cancun” will get you exactly what you’re looking.

Relational Queries

If you want your search to return the keywords you enter as well as results featuring related or similar keywords, use a tilde(~) to bring in more information. An example might be “home contractors ~renovation”, which will bring in more hits that may be helpful in ways you didn’t expect.

Many are still blissfully unaware of just how powerful Google’s cutting edge content indexing and algorithms can be. Power users know how to fine tune their searches for maximum yield and accuracy, and now you do, too. With your new found knowledge of operators and built-in utilities within Google’s search box, you’ll be able to save yourself time and hassle in the long run and become a more efficient and versatile worker.

Guest Post by Melissa Tamura :

Melissa Tamura writes about online degrees for Zen College Life. She most recently ranked the best online colleges.

Category: Internet

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