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22 ways to get more from your Google search


1st Jan 2015 Technology

22 ways to get more from your Google search

Search engines are a vital component of the web. They are designed to help you find the required needle of fact in a vast haystack of information. To get the most out of your Google search, follow this advice.

1. Start with word association

Search engines work by scanning the web for the words you type in. So think what combinations of words are likely to be on the page or in the answer that you’re hoping to find. So, if you are looking for places to stay in Canada, the most direct and economical search would be ‘Hotel Canada’—or, better still, ‘Hotel Quebec’ or ‘Hotel Toronto’.


2. Quote marks are a tool

Google search with quotations

If you put a phrase in double quotes when you search, the engine will seek out exactly that phrase in web pages. This can be useful if you are trying to find the author of a line of poetry (just type in the line, or part of it, inside double quotes) or if you want to find a statistic such as “population of the world in 1850”.

But don’t put queries such as “How tall is the Eiffel tower” because you will exclude all the sites that don’t include the question in that exact form of words. Better to type ‘height Eiffel Tower’, without quotes.


3. Say what you don’t want

Chocolate cake without gluten recipe

If you want to exclude a word from your search, type that word with a minus sign before it. Say you need a cake recipe. When you type ‘chocolate cake’ you get a lot of recipes for chocolate cake, but if you have an allergy you might need something excluded. Try adding a minus to exclude terms 'chocolate cake -gluten'.


4. Say what’s essential, too

Chocolate mint cake inclusive search

If you put a plus sign before a word, this tells the search engine that this word must be present on all the pages it displays in the results. So ‘four seasons +hotel’ brings up search results that always have the words ‘four seasons’ associated with the hotel chain (rather than with the music of Vivaldi, the pizza or the times of the year). Equally, if you want to add some mint to that chocolate cake!


5. Don’t worry too much about spelling 

Spelling mistake google search

Search engines usually offer you alternatives to the word you searched on if there is a more popular spelling. So if you type in ‘elephonts’, the search engine will recognise the misspelling and ask you if you meant to type ‘elephants’, with a clickable link that takes you straight to search results for ‘elephants’. (But if you are in fact searching for, say, a rock band that’s called Elephonts, then you can reject the search engine’s prompt.)


6. Search single websites

Google's in site search function

Type ‘site:’ then the simple name of the website (without the www.) directly after, with no space, then your search words. For example, ‘ berlin’ brings up any pages on that have the word ‘Berlin’ on them.


7. Search using an image

Search by image

If you drag and drop an image into Google's image search bar, and it will attempt to find the image, tell you what it is and where it came from. At the very least you can have fun putting your own images in and seeing what Google comes up with as a close match in 'Visually similar images'.

Image search results


8. Do a better image search

Search for animated images

If you select 'search tools' during an image search more options will become available to you, meaning you can easily get a page full of cat GIFs, you know, if that's waht you're into. 


9. Work out your maths problems

Work out percentages on Google

Forget calculators Google can do the maths for you by simply searching the equation.


10. Translate something you don't understand


If you want to find out how to say something in another language, or want to translate your French friend's facebook update, you can do it with google translate. Simply type in  "translate 'language A' to 'language B'". 


11. Use Google News to search 100 years' worth of newspapers


A lot of work has been done by Google to digitise the contents of old newspapers into one massive digital archive and this is how you search it. Simply go to


12. When's Easter

When is easter

Searching the name of a holiday will tell you what date that holiday is on, this is also useful for bank holidays.


13. Convert currency and units



14. Search within a range 

Google search between a range

Putting “..” between two numbers will search within that range.


15. Nag a ram


If you include the word “anagram” in your search, Google will make anagrams for you. Even if you’re trying to define anagram.


16. Google dictionary

using google to define words

Define a word by typing “define:” followed by the word.


17. Time yourself

Google timer

Set a timer by typing 'set timer for' and then the amount of time. When it's finished a little alarm will sound.


18. Check flights and holiday plans

Flight numbers

You can even search for plane information by searching the flight number. If you have gmail (Google's email service) and used it to book your flights, you can also check your travel itinery.


19. Find books and albums

search albums

Search for “Books by” and the name of an author, Google will display all of their works.


20. Nutritional information

Quite straight forward, but if you want to know the nutritional value of an ingredient Google will pull up everything you need to know simply by typing it into the search bar. This however doesn't work with brand names (like Mars bar), nor with apple, as it thinks you mean the brand.


21. Ask Google to 'do a barrel roll'

Go on, see what happens, it'll be worth it!


22. Play Breakout

Play breakout

Search 'Atari Breakout' on Google Images and you can play the block breaking game with the results.

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