Your boss just asked you to find an answer to something she needs to know now. Are your Google search skills good enough to get her what she wants in a matter of minutes?
Google is a powerful research tool, especially if you know how to use it to its full capacity. And research isn’t all you can get out of the world’s most popular search engine. Siobhan Harmer at Lifehack offers some tips to help.
1. Don’t ask Google questions. Instead, try to imagine how the answer would be phrased, and use search words to elicit those answers.
2. Take advantage of search modifiers. For example, using the term “intitle” before a keyword will only give results that have that term in the title.
Using a tilde before a term will search related words; for example, using “~college” will also give results that include “university.”
3. Use quotes to search specific phrases. If you only want to search for a specific phrase, put it in quotes in the search box. That will eliminate searches that turn up similar terms or different configurations of the words you’re searching.
4. Limit the time period for your search. Using two periods between a span of years will limit your results to that time period.
5. Narrow a search by file type. If you’re searching for a specific type of file—say a document or an image—use the term “filetype:” before the type you want (such as “filetype:doc”) to get only those results.
6. Make Google your calculator. Just enter the equation in the Google search box and Google will provide the solution.
7. Convert units quickly. If you need to know a unit equivalent, Google can tell you that, too. Just enter something like “5 kilometers in miles” in the search box.
8. Exclude unwanted search results by using a dash. “Detroit fast food restaurants -Burger King” will exclude anything from Burger King.
9. Do a “wildcard search,” by using an asterisk as a substitute for a missing word or phrase.
This helps Google “guess” what you’re looking for, as in “Detroit is in * county.”
— Adapted from “Get More Out of Google,” Siobhan Harmer, Lifehack.