According to ebizmba.com, Google is unquestionably the most popular search engine with an estimated 900 million unique visitors every month. Its nearest competitor, bing, gets an estimated 165 million unique visitors every month. Since you’ve likely “googled” something, and it’d be impossible to give tips for every search engine out there, here are tips to refine Google searches.
Google has an Advanced Search option. Type your question in to get the preliminary results and then click the Options button at the upper right part of the page (it looks like a cog) to select “Advanced search”. Narrow down your results by adding words, excluding words or telling it to use an exact word or phrase. If you've performed the search before, you can show only updates within a certain time frame so you're not looking at old information.
Once you’ve got your Advanced search results, note that additional options appear in the menu on the left side of the screen, allowing you to modify results on the fly with additional conditions (such as sort by date vs. relevance, or only show sites with images, etc).
There are a number of “operators” you can use instead to achieve similar results:
Explicit Phrase: put the exact phrase you're looking for in quotes. If you’re looking for a list of Dr. Seuss books, typing [Dr. Seuss Books] will probably include what you’re looking for, as well as websites about doctors and medical journals. By typing ["Dr. Seuss" books], Google will return results with that exact phrase, in addition to the word "books."
Exclude Words: use the "-" sign in front of the word you want to exclude. Looking for info on ducks, but not mallards? [Ducks -mallard] typed into the search parameter gets you closer to your goal.
Synonymous Terms: the "~" symbol, entered in front of a word, will allow your search to find words that are similar, so [~love] will result in pages containing the word "love" and all similar words.
Wildcard Search: use the asterisk symbol when you know only some of the words in the specific thing you’re looking for. Great for finding the title of your favorite song from high school or at least how to spell it: [* Rhapsody, by Queen].
Telephone Numbers: Identify that random caller (assuming it's a land-line) in a flash by typing the phone number into your search, or find out the call originated in Florida by typing in the area code.
Quick Calculator and Units Converter: simply type any mathematical equation into your search bar using +, -, * (multiply) and / (divide) symbols. Using a new recipe for the first time? Convert the number of cups easily into ounces [two cups = how many ounces].
Dictionary: use the "define:" operator followed by the word you need a definition of [define: expedient].
Entertainment: the "movie:" operator, followed by a movie title and the city where you're headed results in movie theaters in the area. The "music:" operator narrows your search to all topics music.
Check out the menu on the left of your search results for specific Google search filters that can help you narrow results to News, Shopping, Recipes, Flights, and many more, each with tailored search filters to narrow your results and help you find exactly what you’re searching for. Happy hunting!
Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea