How to use Google search – 5 tips to stop you wasting time


“If you have some problem in your life and you need to use religion to deal with it, fine.

I use Google.”

When I first heard Simon Amstell’s comment to Jermaine Jackson on Never Mind the Buzzcocks I laughed the he did not just say that laugh. (Poor Jermaine had taken the ribbing in good humour up to that point. “So your kids’ half brothers are actually their cousins…. Has Michael ever done anything weird?”)

But actually, Google is a bit God-like. I know I turn to it with any and every question. It’s getting so smart you don’t even have to talk like a robot “holiday Spain cheap”, you can chat away “where can I get a cheap holiday to Spain?”

That’s great for the social surfer or the casual browser, not so efficient for time-pressed professionals. You probably know some of the shortcuts – you might even be using some of them – but I bet you could save even more time with these quick tips.

  1. SAFESEARCH: I bet it’s happened to you. You innocently type in your keyword and a whole load of links to porn appear on the SERPS (search engine results pages). You’re probably at work while this happens. Avoid an embarrassing disciplinary by typing SAFESEARCH: before your search term.
  2. LINK: This is a good way to check the validity of whatever you’re searching for. Sites with links to other, reputable sites are more trustworthy. For example, if you’re looking for a hotel in a city you’re unfamiliar with you could search and specify that they have a link to the local tourist board. Type hotel link: for example, if traveling to Cartagena in Colombia.
  3. SITE: If you want to search within a specific site, but their own search box isn’t great, this is a good alternative. It’s also a good way to make sure the information you want comes from a reliable source. A search like poodles site: will deliver information about poodles only from the Kennel Club’s website.
  4. * If you’re as forgetful as my mum and just can’t call that name or word to hand, the simple asterisk can save you. Use it to fill in the blanks and Google will explain. Search Shane * cricket for example. Put the phrase in inverted commas if you want an exact search, for example “a * in time saves 9”
  5. .. If you want to search within a price range or date range, two full stops will indicate your field. For example search bookcase £100..£300

Do you use any other shortcuts? Please share!


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