Google searches can be tricky business. It seems half the time you’re searching for something, you’re reaping results that are either too broad or not at all what you were looking for. Here are a few search engine tricks and tips to help you:

1. Exclude unwanted keywords

Narrow your results by using the minus sign (-) to instruct the search engine to exclude selected words from the results. For example, telling Google to search for “dinosaur –film” will remove any results related to the film “Dinosaur.” This is helpful if you know specifically what you’re looking for, but what you’re searching for may span different types of topics and disciplines.

2. Image searching

Image searches are a quick way to visually get answers, without having to sift through dozens of links and websites. Aren’t sure what a peony looks like? Or are you looking for a specific answer to a question? Instead of picking through forums or articles, often a quick Image search can give the answers you’re looking for with a quick scan.

3. Use Wildcard autocomplete

Have a song stuck in your head, but you’re not sure the rest of the word? Or do you know part of what you’re looking for, but not the entire quote (or code)? Use an asterisk (*) in place of the words, phrases, or pieces you don’t know to have Google pull a Wildcard search. The engine will autocomplete for you and fill in the parts based on the most likely answer. “It is a * * acknowledged,” for example, will garner results from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” even though half of the quote is missing.

4. Get specific with time-based search results

Sometimes you know what you’re looking for was published recently. Whether it be a news article, a case study, or a web page, you can search by publish date to get the most up-to-date versions and news. Just click Search Tools and the time range you would like from the drop down menu.

A clever trick found on Life Hacker will yield even more specific time-based search results. Just tag “&tbs=qdr:” onto your URL, plus the time you’re requesting (i.e., n10, h1, n5, h5, s30, etc.), and let it know what time frame you’d like to search by. Click the Life Hacker hyperlink for the full article.

5. Utilize Google’s quick search tools

Want to know what time it is in LA? Or which time zone Greenland is located? How about how many meters are in a mile? What about the answer to a math equation or when your friend’s flight might be landing? Any number of quick answers can be found through a Google search. Find answers to math problems and equations by simply plugging the equation in and hitting enter. Find a flight status by inputting the airline and flight number. For time and time zones, type “time in [location]” or “[location] time zone.”

These are only a few tips to help in your future searches. Google has a number of search tips and tools for getting the most bang for your buck, but hopefully these few will make searching a little faster in the future.

 

 

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