Have you ever thrown your hands up in despair of finding the web page that you so tantalisingly remember? The Google behemoth is the dominant search engine in many parts of the world but you may easily have missed its rather impenetrable user manual. While Google searches well, how well do you Google? Here are some tips to get you going.
Searching online is like playing charades only instead of miming, your words are waving towards what you would like with a hopeful grace. Sometimes what you want is straightforward. Weather guatemala will bring you weather reports for Guatemala unmixed with cookie recipes or lingerie. However, other searches can require a more interesting route to your goal.
If you are not finding what you want then these two tips may help. Pretend you are someone writing about the object of your search: what unusual words or phrases are used by people who talk about it? These are good starting points for your search. For physical objects, try refining and adjusting your search using the Images section of Google. You can literally see when you are getting closer to useful sites.
So what extra tools does Google offer you? You will have seen the Maps, News, Videos and other sections of Google each with its special focus and additional tools which are well worth a look. Whichever section of Google you use, the sheer volume of information covered can make finding what you want challenging. Fortunately, Google’s genius can sort this haystack better with a little direction from you.
Let’s start by a couple of simple ways to remove the chaff of useless results. You can use “-“ to eliminate pages with words you do not want and “+” to insist on having a given word. For example, tory david -cameron will only give you pages that do not mention Cameron. Do you want pages about David Davies? I won’t pretend that is not a little weird but you can use +”david davies” to insist on having the phrase David Davies in each result. The exact phrase inside the quotations is used to whittle results rapidly to what you want. Can’t remember the whole phrase? Simply put in what you can remember and use a * for the part you cannot. For example, “I can’t * away” will produces results that have phrases that start I can’t and end with away, such as I can’t give everything away.
If you want reports for particular years, this next tip is for you. To get information relating to 2008, say, simply add ..2008 to your search. So for example, golf cup +scotland ..2008 will tend to give you pages on scottish golf cups for 2008. Want a range of years, say 2008 to 2010? No problem, just change it to golf cup +scotland 2008.. 2010 only remember to watch out for the space after the two dots.
Sometimes you will want just to search a particular website. Nothing could be simpler. For example, to search the entire BBC site for frogs, use site:bbc.co.uk frogs. You can replace frogs with any search you prefer including the complicated ones I used above.
While you are searching for your frogs, you may want the word in the title of the resulting pages. This is simple using the intitle: keyword. So our example search of the bbc becomes site:bbc.co.uk intitle:frogs. Naturally frogs could as easily be “nuclear power” or anything else.
Sometimes you will want to tie your search words together. For example, the search for lying politicians will give you results in which both words occur but they may be separated by plenty of other words. However, if you only want pages where these words are next to each other then use AND. So for example, lying AND politicians.
Earlier we touched on the site: keyword. While site:ebay.co.uk ensures that you only receive results for ebay.co.uk, there are some other handy directions you can give to Google. For example, how about finding sites of a similar nature to the styling site instyle.com? Easy! You can do this using related:instyle.com.
Finally, a tip for the technically savvy. Are you looking for a specific file? Then the filetype: keyword could be just what you need. Supposing you need a pdf file of sussex railway times, then you could search using sussex rail timetable filetype:pdf.