Whether you’re shopping online or doing your own background checks, you can get swamped with too many names, too many pages and too many false leads. To avoid this, here are 8 search tricks that will forever change how you Google!
This Blog Will Show You How To:
1. Google search 100 hits per page instead of 10 per page
2. Search for an exact phrase using quotes
3. See old versions of a website (Google Cache)
4. Search for key words once on a web page (Control F, Command F
5. Exclude Google returns that contain unwanted words
6. Search for recent results in the past week, month or year
7. Search within a particular website
8. Search For Images (Google Reverse Image Search)
1. Search Faster With 100 Returns Per Page
First let’s permanently set Google to give you 100 returns per page instead of ten. If you’re not sure this is a worthwhile thing to do, try Googling for John Smith and mugshots. As you can see, at just ten hits per page, you will be searching for a lifetime! How much better to search 10 times faster and with 10 times the returns on a page!
For more searches per page, you can customize your search settings. First, under “Search Settings” and “Google Instant predictions”, click on “Never show Instant results.” This deactivates any suggestions on how to search for things. (Something only marginally helpful when you already know what you’re looking for).
Next, slide the results per page from 10 to 100. This makes Google microscopically slower, but with today’s super fast Internet speeds, who cares! (Note: this won’t work unless you first turn off the instant results feature above).
Now, click “Save” at the bottom and start searching! The same results are now at a 100 per page instead of 10. Think how much time you’ll save with this trick alone. Say goodbye to the page by page nonsense! 200 returns takes up 2 pages instead of 20. And if it’s not there, you simply move on to your next search.
2. Search For An Exact Phrase Using Quotes
Most people never think of using quotation marks around names or phrases. But if you Google John Smith and mugshots (without quotes) you get over half a million hits. To narrow your search, let’s put the name in quotes so it looks like this: “John Smith” mugshots. Now your search results are cut down to less than 46 thousand hits.
The great thing about quotes is that you can target exact phrases, including names. With the example above, you can see the quotes allow you to pull up hits where the words John and Smith are right next to each other.
But why stop there? Let’s see what happens when we add the middle initial R. Amazingly, the search for “John R Smith” mugshots returns a mere 56 hits.
Now let’s refine the search to “John Richard Smith” mugshots. Here you get only 25 hits! So with a full name in quotes, even a common name becomes uncommon. And with the power of quotes, you can find your mark easily.
Finally, lets add a city to narrow the results even further. With “John Richard Smith” mugshots Atlanta, we’ve reduced half a million hits to five!
Use Triple Quotes For Even More Exact Phrases
This is a secret Google won’t talk about. But if you want to make absolutely sure you get Graham Firestone and not Graham Moclayus Firestone, search like this “””Graham Firestone”””
Pros & Cons of Using Quotes
Quotes are great when you know the exact phrase you’re looking for.
Example: “post office most wanted”
Example: “John Richard Smith”
Dangers Of Using Quotes
Quotes can exclude valid results because the words were not next to each other. This matters for example, when you have no idea how the name will be listed, i.e. when searching for wedding announcements or obituaries. For example: Quotes around “John Smith” would exclude an obituary about John R Smith or a wedding announcement for John and Clara Smith. Likewise, quotes around “Clara and John Smith” could exclude valid returns with “John and Clara Smith”
If you know the exact phrase or phrases you’re looking for, put it in quotes! You can also narrow your leads by adding a city or other information not in quotes. Be careful of using quotes when you don’t know the exact word order you want, or you want the key terms to come back with a middle name, the name of a spouse or other information that would otherwise be excluded.
3. See Old Versions Of A Website (Google Cache)
Ever go to website to learn it’s changed or no longer there? This is especially frustrating when you know the site refers to the person you’re looking for. The good news is that Google’s cache function can show you an earlier snapshot of the same site.
Suppose you’re looking for Graham Firestone and Google pulls up a site where he’s nowhere to be found. So what do you do?
First, use your back button to revisit the list of Google hits where you first found the site. Notice a green link directly under your website.
Click the down arrow at the end of the green link and click Cached. Now you are on a snapshot of the site before it changed. For more see Search tricks including finding really old websites on the Wayback Machine.
4. Search For Key Words On A Web Page (Control F, Command F for Macs)
So you’re at the top of a webpage over 100 screens long. Now here’s how to quickly find the name you’re looking for. PC users can search for a key word within the site by holding down the Ctrl button on their keyboard and also pressing the letter F. Mac users can do the same thing with Command F. When the small search box appears, simply enter John or Smith or whatever single key term you’re looking for.
Each time you hit enter it will take you to where that term appears on the page. Some browsers will even highlight your search terms so all you have to do is scroll down for the yellow or green highlights.
Note: the find function is a far cry from Google. So do not enter more than one term at a time. Also, the single will find the plural as long as there’s no spelling change. (Attorney will find attorneys, but not vice versa. A search for fly will not find flies).
A good practice is to search for the least common part of the name. For example: Say your searching for John Zanzibar and you find yourself at the top of a super huge webpage. While on the page, first do a search for Zanzibar. There’s probably only one. But a search for John will probably take you to a lot of the Johns you weren’t looking for.
5.. Exclude Google Returns That Contain Unwanted Words
Now let’s talk about excluding the words we don’t need in a search.
Notice a search for John Firestone gives you over 12 million hits.
But Google has a way to exclude unwanted words by using the minus sign. Here’s how it’s done. In the Google search box, first enter the terms you want as usual. Then, after your desired search terms, you’ll want to enter the terms you don’t want in your returns. Simply press the space bar and add the minus sign along with all the words you don’t want.
For example: John Firestone -tires has 8 times fewer hits because now it’s not puling up Firestone tires.
John Firestone -tires -dr has even fewer hits. (691,000 instead of 12 million). But before you exclude, take a look at your returns for words you know are irrelevant. Open a few to see the pattern. Otherwise you may over exclude and miss something important.
Using Quotes Combined With The Minus Sign
Now watch what happens when you add quotes such as below.
“john firestone” -tires -dr
As you probably knew, you get a lot fewer returns. This is because the word doctor is not relevant unless for some reason you believe your subject was a doctor or connected to doctors.
Previously I tried this search and to my surprise I got more hits instead of less. So always pay attention to what happens when you add search terms or use the minus sign. You should get fewer returns not more!
6. Search For Recent Results In The Past Week, Month Or Year
Ever want recent news, a recent weather report or the most recent scoop on a person’s whereabouts? With Google, you can pull up returns from the past year to even the past hour. Just type in your search and press enter. Then click on Search Tools up top and click on Anytime.
At this point, choose the past hour, the past day, the past week, past month or past year. You can even use the Google calendar to customize your search to the last 2 years.
Now you can search the most recent how to links, the most recent phone numbers, the most recent developments in the law, the newest products on the market… (you get the gist.)
7. Search Within A Particular Website
Sometimes a website won’t let you search it, or it requires you sign up for it. At other times it’s so badly organized, you simply can’t find anything. This is particularly true with government websites. Even if they have a search engine, they’re often useless!
The good news is that you can still search many of these sites with Google’s search within site feature.
First, I enter the searches in quotes or no quotes, then a space, the word “site colon and the name of the website, no space after the colon. To see how it works, just click on the link below. Note this only searches within the ancestry.com website.
The applications here are endless. Now you can search almost any site with the power of Google and all it’s search capabilities! Use this to shop for products, gather evidence of product infringement, search for company announcements or look for people!
8. Search For Images (Google Reverse Image Search)
Google can also find when someone’s image appears in different places online. This can be helpful in tracking where they’ve been or what they’ve done. For more on this see Free Links That Detect Online Copying (Consumer-SOS.com). See also Reverse Image Search.