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Posted: March 02, 2012

Ten essential Google tips and tricks

Upgrade your web searches

Dawn Bjork Buzbee

Even with Microsoft’s Bing search engine grabbing some market share, Google is still the huge leader for web searches. Although you may use Google every day, you might be missing out on some of the tricks to strengthen your search muscles.

1. Install the Google Toolbar

Stop typing www.google.com or searching for the bookmark every time you want to start a Google search. Simply download the free Google toolbar at www.google.com/toolbar to install the toolbar into your browser window. The time-saving additions include a search box, a pop-up blocker (Internet Explorer only), and an AutoFill utility as well as other toolbar buttons you can add. My favorite new feature is the Google new tab page and most visited websites. With the Google toolbar installed, when you open a new browser tab, Google’s tab page displays links to up to nine websites you visit most, nine recent browser or Google bookmarks, and up to three recently closed (in the past five minutes) tabs.

2. Quick Definitions

Not sure about the definition of a word? Get any word or phrase defined instantly. Just type your request into the Google search box (on the toolbar or website) using this format:

define:word or term such as define:productivity or define productivity

3. Track Down Content in a Website

Even if a site includes an internal search tool, you still might not find what you are looking for. Searching for a key contact in a company? Tracking down a resource such as a user manual or how-to guide? Try this tip to search for a specific term or phrase within a particular website:

site:website url “search term” such as site:cobizmag.com “customer service”

This Google search trick also works if you enter the search phrase first, for example, “customer service” site:cobizmag.com. I use this search technique frequently to register my business as a certified women’s business enterprise (WBE). Most large corporations maintain a supplier database of certified women-owned and minority-owned businesses but these web pages are sometimes tough to find from the home page of the corporate website. If a link is not easy to find in the site, I just run a Google search like site:ibm.com “supplier diversity”. (By the way, links for the supplier diversity program are actually very easy to find from the IBM website used in this example.)

4. Search Web Page Titles

Looking for web pages containing a very specific search term or phrase? Try this trick to search for a term in the web page title which typically contains top key words:

allintitle: “office jokes”

You can relax this search if the results are too narrow by removing the quotation marks around the phrase.

5. Search Web Addresses

For a variation of the trick above, search for a word or phrase in the URL of web pages (not just the home page). Just enter:

allinurl: “colorado”

Once again, remove the quote marks to open up the search results.

6. A Wildcard Twist

Look for a wildcard search using this format:

chocolate * cake

Don’t be surprised, however, if you get millions or even billions of search results. You’ll likely need to narrow results by adding other search qualifiers, for instance, chocolate * cake –zucchini which removes zucchini from the search.

7. What Time is It?

Want to know the time anywhere in the world? Try entering a search for:

time:London or time London

You can, of course, type any other place name instead of London; your search is not case sensitive.

8. Quick Math

If your calculator isn’t handy, use Google’s built-in calculator function. Simply enter the calculation you’d like completed into the search box. For example, 12345*67.89, which works with or without spaces around the mathematical operators. Much more complex calculations work too.

9. Trends for Public Data

To see trends for population and unemployment rates of U.S. states and counties, type “population” or “unemployment rate” followed by a state or county. You can then click through to a page that lets you compare different locations. For example:

population CO or unemployment rate arizona

10. What’s the Weather Outside?

To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country. Some examples (capitalization and punctuation not required):

weather:maui hawaii

weather Lahaina, HI

weather 96761

 

Hopefully, you’ve seen there’s a lot more you can do with Google to expand your knowledge.

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 6 books. Discover more software tips, tricks, tactics, and techniques at www.SoftwarePro.com . Contact Dawn at Dawn@SoftwarePro.com  or (303) 699-6868.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Great tips! Thank you! By Teri Karjala on 2012 03 06
Great tip, Steve. Google's web history can be enabled or turned off if you are logged in to a Google account. If privacy isn't important, web history can even be expanded to all web activity although turning it off might be smarter. Or, at least delete your search history periodically. This is a good time as well to review Google's new privacy policies. By Dawn Bjork Buzbee on 2012 03 05
Thanks Dawn, these are good tips that I will use. Another tip I'll pass along is for people to go to google.com/history and delete their searches from their computer. By Steve Baker on 2012 03 04
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