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How I Find Stuff With Google Searches

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For those of you who are regular listeners, when I’m on with Mark on Fridays and my own “Open for Business” show on Saturdays, know that from time to time people call asking questions that require a little quick research.

Some things are pretty simple to locate. I keep bookmarks on local, state and national offices, Supreme Court, president’s cabinet, world leaders, top news sites and economic stats. But occasionally things come up that require a little detective work. For that, I use a few Google tips that might help you find things a little quicker.

Put Your Search in Quotes

The first tip is one most people know. And that is, common ways to narrow search results. Most searches return several million results. That’s because Google searches, not only for the words as a group, but also all instances of individual words as well.

For example if I want to find information on miniature poodles I just enter those two words and Google takes over. But, Google doesn’t stop with just miniature poodles. Since I didn’t put my search in quotes like this, — “miniature poodles,” — I’ve told Google to also look at any group of words that have the word “miniature” and “poodle” in them as well. So I might get miniature golf, miniature figurines, as well as poodle food, poodle training, etc.

Example: “miniature poodles” not miniature poodles.

Picking the Right Words

Or, in some cases, picking the words you don’t want. In some cases, quotes may be too restrictive, but you still want to narrow your search. In that case you can tell Google to exclude certain words that complicate your search. You do this by entering your search keywords followed by a minus sign and the term or terms you want to exclude.

Example: miniature poodles –training

Searching On a Specific Web Site

Most major sites offer a search engine that allows you to only search that site. If the site you are browsing doesn’t have that option, it’s no problem. Google will help you out. Enter your keywords in quotes followed by the site name. This tells Google you want to search for specific terms only on the site specified.

Example: “miniature poodles”

Adding Words or Synonyms

Telling Google what additional words you are looking for will also be helpful in narrowing your search. To add a word to a search term, use a tilde. A tilde is this little symbol (~). It’s left of the “1” key of the top of your keyboard. Put your keywords within quotes, then the tilde and the word.

Example: “miniature poodles” ~training

Finding Files and Presentations

I do a lot of public speaking so I use PowerPoint to create my presentations. Sometimes I’m curious as to what other PowerPoint presentations might be out there on my topics. Google has just the tool to help me out. If you are looking for a Word file,PowerPoint file, Acrobat file, Excel file just add it after your search terms.

Example: “miniature poodles” filetype:ppt (ppt = PowerPoint, doc = Word, pdf = Acrobat, etc.)

Phone Numbers

Got a number on your cell phone from a missed call but have no idea who it was? Google to the rescue. It may not work with every phone number but if the number is listed somewhere in the Google database you can find who called you. Just type phonebook, a colon and the phone number with no spaces. Try your own phone number.

Example: phonebook:123-456-7890

Area Codes:

I visit a lot of web sites looking for guests for the show. Some have 800 numbers but many don’t see the need any longer since everyone has free long distance on cell phones. So I don’t want to call someone in Hawaii or Alaska in the middle of the night or on the east coast at midnight so I’ll check the area code to see where the potential guest is located. Just enter the three-digit area code in Google and hit enter. That’s all there is to it.

Need a Calculator?

Google has a handy built-in calculator for those times when you need simple calculations. Just enter the terms in the search box and Google will do the math. Use the following symbols to add (+), subtract (-), multiply (*), divide (/) and total (=).

Example: 12*12=144

Word Definitions

There are times I get stumped on the meaning of some words when I’m writing my blog. I don’t want to write stalagmite when it should be stalactite. If you are not sure of the definitions of those two words you can easily find the definitions by using the Google “define” command.

Example: define:stalagmite

Some Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the more common things you can do with Google search. There are thousands more all over the web. Just do a search.


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