We recently talked about how 93% of Zimbabweans use Google for their search needs. Google dominates the world over and that’s been the case since its introduction in 1997. You would think with such experience with Google we would be good at googling but we aren’t.
If you’re content with the way you search today, then good for you. If not let’s find out how to take our googling to the next level. It’s all about improving efficiency and effectiveness.
An aside: although we can get by with Google, it has to be remembered that search engines like Google only access an estimated 0.03% of the internet. That is a wild statistic. For as useful and omniscient Google feels, it only has access to about 0.03% of the internet. Just imagine what it would feel like if it could access even just 10%.
This means it doesn’t matter how good of a Googler you become, most of the information on the internet is inaccessible to you. Let that not discourage you though, you will do just fine with 0.03% of the internet.
If you want to get exact results you have to put your search query in quotes. Your search query could be a phrase and you could still put it in quotation marks to get exact results.
You know how it is when you’re researching some obscure or specific stuff and you find a lot of results that do not really have anything to do with what you are searching for? Google may have found one of the words in your phrase on that website and it will just throw it at you. That’s what quotation marks help you avoid.
An example: if you type in “chicken inn fc” you will only get football results, not news about the chicken joint.
Sometimes you know you once came across a document that had what you’re looking for. You don’t have to wade through all types of search results. Tell Google you only want results that have PDFs for example.
Exclude a term from results
There are only so many words out there and sometimes different entities can have the same name but you can filter that out when you search.
For example, if you want to find something out about Chicken Inn, the chicken outlet, at a time when Chicken Inn Football Club has some interesting news, you might find a lot of football news you have no use for in the search results.
Use a dash (otherwise known as the minus symbol) to exclude a term.
An example: Chicken Inn-fc you won’t get any results with the fc (football club) in them.
Using ~ to get synonyms
Let’s say you want to find guitar classes and you type in guitar classes you may miss out on other results in the form of guitar lessons or guitar coaching. So use the approximation symbol to get those ‘synonyms’ in the search results.
An example: guitar ~classes
If you want to search within two number ranges you use two full-stops.
An example: hip hop music 1995..2005
If you want the results you get to have been published in a certain time period, this is how you go about it.
For results after a certain date use AFTER. An example: Python tutorials AFTER:2018
For results before a certain date. An example: Zanu Ndonga BEFORE:2012
Ever find a site that caters to your particular interests and you want to discover more websites like it? You do that with a ‘related‘ search.
An example: related:newscientist.com
This will bring up all websites that are similar to New Scientist.
You can filter search results to only get results from a particular location. This is useful when you are dealing with a search term that yields results from all over the world when you are only interested in one location.
An example: Nelson Mandela location:zimbabwe
The wildcard *
If you have forgotten the particular phrase you want, the * can bail you out. Google treats the asterisk * as a placeholder for one or more words. Let’s say you are looking for The Purpose Drive Life but only remember that the book has ‘life’ in the title, but not anything else.
You type in: the * life book and you will get results like ‘The Book of Life’, ‘The Game of Life’ and you will see The Purpose Driven Life on that list.
That’s it for now
If you really want to get into the weeds you could always use Google Advanced Search.
Utilise these tips to become a pro-Googler. If you have more tips, share them in the comments section below.