I watched a movie recently about Saroo Brierly, a boy from India who fell asleep and rode on a train 1,000 miles from his home. When Saroo got off the train, he was lost. Only five years old, Saroo found himself in another part of India where a different language is spoken. He also did not know the correct name of his hometown, and encumbered with language barriers, could not return home.
It’s an astonishing tale and one I can’t keep thinking about.
Saroo wrote about his journey from India to an orphanage, then to adoption in Tasmania and eventually his quest, 25 years later, to seek his family in India. The book, A Long Way Home, inspired the movie, Lion, and earned six Oscar nominations.
Here’s a Google Earth: Saroo’s Search video describing his fascinating journey. (Spoiler alert: Stop the video at the 1:30 minute mark if you don’t want to know the ending and prefer to watch the movie or read his book first.)
Saroo’s story also inspired me to share some tips on how to get the information you want faster in Google Search. Let’s be more savvy in our searching, shall we?
1. Simple works best
In Google search, one or two word search terms will usually give you the broadest results. Start with short search terms, then refine your results by adding more words.
2. Use descriptive words
First state simple terms, then add descriptive words. If you’re looking for a place or product in a specific location, enter the name along with the town or zip code.
Example: purple girls bike near Whitehouse Station NJ
3. Be specific and use web friendly words
The words you enter into the Google search box will be matched with web pages that contain those words, so use the specific phrases you’re looking for as your search term.
Example: girls 20 inch schwinn purple bike
4. For Fun: Flip a coin
When an argument ensues over whose turn it is to wash the dishes after dinner, resolve the disagreement by flipping a coin:
5. Use distinct words
If you’re like me and you want the search results to be as close as possible to what you want the first time, the more unique the word, the better. But use the work most people use to get the most relevant results.
Example: tina fey movies 2018
6. Don’t worry about the grammar police
Keep in mind that search ignores spelling, capitalization and punctuation
Example: munichh germany bed and breakfast tripadviser
7. Explore a goldmine of images
You can use a picture as your search to find related images from around the web. Let’s say I want to view more pictures of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. I viewed this page in Chrome.
Example: Notre-Dame de Paris [https://www.britannica.com/topic/Notre-Dame-de-Paris]
One option is to search by using an image Universal Resource Locator (URL).
On any website, right-click an image and select Copy image address or Copy image location.
On images.google.com or any Images results page, click Search by image .
Then click Paste image URL. Paste the URL you copied into the box.
Click Search by image.
When you search using an image, your search results may include:
- Similar images
- Sites that include the image
- Other sizes of the image you searched for
8. For Fun: Roll a die
Take a chance during your next break and roll a die. Just type in “roll a die” in the search box, and Google will roll a die for you.
9. Search with an exact phrase
Put quotation marks around words “[any word]” to search for an exact phrase in an exact order. Please understand that searching with quotes might exclude relevant results.
Example: “one small step for a man one giant leap for mankind”
10. Search within a specific site
Precede your query with site: if you know you want your answer from within a specific site or type of site (.org, .edu), like site:edu or site:kansascity.com.
Example: books site:npr.org
11. Search by file type
When looking for specific types of files, such as PDFs, PPTs, or XLS, add filetype: and the 3-letter file abbreviation.
Example: dinner recipes filetype:pdf
12. For Fun:
Type “” in the Google search box. Blink searches will appear and every instance of the “blink” blinks in the results.
13. Include or ignore words and characters in your search
Highlight common words and characters such as the and & if they are essential to your search (as in a movie or book title) by putting quotation marks “the” around them. You can also use the minus – sign to specify particular items you don’t want in your results, like ingredients in a recipe.
Example: beef recipes -mushrooms
14. Search numbers in a range
Next time you’re shopping online, if you need to stay within a certain dollar amount, search only for items within a number range by putting a string .. between amounts.
Example: Converse sneakers $30..$65
15. Get number conversions
Convert any measurement — like yards to meters or ounces to liters — by typing in the number and unit of measurement.
Example: yards to meters
16. Get definitions
Put define: in front of any word to get its definition.
Example: define: supercalifragilisticexpialidociousloquaciousness
17. Search by advanced image search
Use Advanced Image Search to find an exact size, color or type of photo or drawing. With the tools at the top, you can filter your search to include only photos with faces, clip art, high-resolution images or only images that are available for commercial use.
Example: “estes park colorado”
18. Similar terms
Get results that include synonyms by placing the ~ sign immediately in front of your search term. For instance, a search for “Valentine’s Day ~dessert recipes” will show results for desserts, along with candy, cookies and other treats.
Example: Valentine’s Day ~dessert recipes
19. What time is it?
When you’re curious about what time it is in other places in the world, search time and the city or country.
Example: time japan
20. Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown words
Try this when you’re looking for the exact lyric or forms of an expression.
Example: “we are the * my friend”
🌱Skills Spring Cleaning🌱
When you’re searching in Google, use these tips and uncover the truly relevant information you need. Sweep out the old ways of researching and learn a faster way. Come on, your younger co-workers already know this stuff.
How many of these tips did you already know? What do you use in Google search that you find invaluable? Please share.
PS: When you’re searching for the perfect emoji in your communications, check out Emojipedia — Home of Emoji Meanings.