Don’t Play Search Results Roulette
Everyone’s always looking to become more efficient and more productive with the little time they have. “Time is money,” they say. Well, if that’s true, then I’m mighty interested in saving some time. One way to make good use of this precious resource is to improve your performance on common tasks. Using search engines more effectively is something everyone can do better.
As a full-time student and part-time ‘Pegger, I do a lot of research online. This infographic, “Get More Out of Google,” has a lot of really helpful tips and diagrams for better Googling. I think I’m pretty tech savvy, but I was unaware of how to use these simple tweaks to manipulate the search engine to find exactly what you want.
Is your head spinning yet? No worries, and let’s break it down together using an example from the article. Suppose you want to search the New York Times website for information about college test scores, but not info about SATs. You also want to search in the date range of 2008 to 2010. You can actually do all of that in one line on Google. Here’s what you might type into Google’s search bar:
site:nytimes.com ~college “test scores” -SATs 2008..2010
This operator tells Google to display only the results from one specific site. You start by filtering out the whole Internet except for one website.
What To Do With the Tilde (~)
There’s more than one way to talk about college. Put the tilde (~) in front of your keyword to indicate you’d like to see results based on related words in addition to your keyword. This will return information on words like university, schools, institutes of higher learning and so on.
Get Specific With Quotation Marks
If you want to make absolutely sure your search results all include a particular word or phrase, put it inside quotation marks.
Use Subtract (-) to Exclude Words
Place the the minus sign in front of any word or phrase you want to exclude from search results.
Use ellipses (..) to indicate date range
Without a date range, Google will serve up all results from all of history. You’re almost always interested in only the most recent articles, maybe from the past two years. Put in years separated by two ellipses to tell Google you just want results from within that range.
Now let’s see a show of hands. How many of us actually use Google (or any other search engine) like this? Anyone? My hand isn’t raised either. But with a little extra typing, we can all avoid search results roulette. Instead we can throw out the gambling and go straight to what we want: effective results. That way we can spend less time researching and improve the workflow of our day.