Power Searching with Google

Last summer I participated in the first Power Searching course offered by Google. Going into the course I felt as though I already knew more than the average user, but I figured if there was anything that I could learn, it would be knowledge I could use for the rest of my life… or at least as long as Google is around.

I learned some great tricks, and would encourage others to complete this course and the more recently developed Advanced Power Searching course. These courses can be found at powersearchingwithgoogle.com

Here’s a few Google pointers to help you search more effectively:
Things to consider:

  • Every word matters
  • Word order matters
  • Capitalization does not matter
  • Spelling matters (but you have help)

Google returns pages that match your search terms exactly:

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If you want to find results that contain both, separate your words with AND (must be uppercase), and if you want to find results that contain either, separate your search terms with OR.
  • Google ignores most punctuation and special characters, including: ! ? , . ; [ ] @ / # < >
  • Common words, called “stop words” (such as the, on, where, how, but, no, as well as certain single digits and single letters) generally don’t add meaning to a search.
  • Remove invasive results. Looking for salsa music… not food or dance?
    Search: [salsa –music –dance]
  • Are you sick of seeing unwanted duplicate results from say… ebay or amazon? Add the minus operand to the end of your search:  –site:ebay.com –site:amazon.com

Here’s some of my favourite Google features:

Quotes – Trying to figure out the name of a song from your youth? Google the lyrics you know inside quotes: [“only the stars mean anything to you”]

Travel/Flights
– Ever wonder if a flight is on time? There’s no need to go to the website for Westjet, Air Canada or the airport. Just type the flight number directly into Google: [ws 0258] Looking for a flight? Just type [(departure city) to (arrival city)]. What time is it in Brussels? [time brussels] What’s the weather like in Halifax? [weather halifax]

Filetype
– Searching for a certain type of document can be very useful. Looking for a pdf of a catalogue? [ikea filetype:pdf] Looking for a powerpoint presentation on global warming? [global warming filetype:ppt] Looking for a spreadsheet for keeping track of your golf handicap? [golf handicap filetype:xls]

Stocks
– Just enter the stock name (symbol)

Movies
– [movies winnipeg]

Define
– [define:jejune] [define:newtons first law]

Calculator
– Most people know that you can use Google as a calculator, but did you know it does scientific calculations as well? [sin 56] [square root 86]

Conversions
– Similar to the calculator features, you can do conversions of mass, length, weight, time, temperature, speed, pressure, power, currency and many others: [56usd in cdn] [75f in c]

Images
– Imagine that you took a photo on a trip, but you can’t remember the name of the Cathedral you saw: Try uploading the photo below into Google:

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