Internet Search Hacks: How to Find Almost Anything on Google [infographic]

Lesser Known Tips To Google Search Like A Pro and Look For Information That's Hard To FindGoogle’s search results don’t look quite how they used to. For a few years, now, users have started to notice that in addition to the standard list of links the search engine returns, there are often a number of other types of information, too. These are broadly known as cards.

You might be presented with an organized profile of a company you’ve searched for, or a carousel of movie star images connected to the actor for whom you searched. You might find the answer to your question is presented to you up front, without you needing to delve into a website to find it. It’s always best to take answers like this with a pinch of salt, since they’re no more authoritative than the site from which they’re taken – but all the same, it is a great, time-saving new function.

Google has made it their mission to document and categorize the world’s information, and make it “universally accessible and useful.” That’s why they have cars out on the streets photographing our neighborhoods, and an army of scanners digitizing our books. Is this a good thing? Well, the long-term implications of this power-grabbing are yet to be seen. Earlier this year, the tech giants even removed the phrase “don’t be evil” from their mission statement, which doesn’t bode well for, you know, good people. But it’s undoubtedly convenient to have the information we need in just a few taps and clicks.

The semantic web

In addition to collecting and organizing existing information, Google is hard at work trying to figure out what we mean when we search for it. They have an artificial intelligence lab where they’re trying to automate the understanding of subtle nuances in the way that we phrase requests. After all, one word can mean something quite different depending which word it’s placed next to, what order they’re in, or even the context in which the whole phrase is used.

Again, this is not purely innocent. Google users are consumers. The better Google’s computers know us, the easier (and cheaper) it is for them to ensure that the data they make available to their clients is more accurate and the cash keeps flowing.

Programming human beings

Meanwhile, it’s not just robot minds that Google is trying to train. The corporation doesn’t just want computers to be better at understanding humans, it wants humans to speak more clearly to its search engines.

It’s kind of amusing if you took information technology classes before the internet was a thing but haven’t much to do with IT on a professional level since then. Kids used to get talked through using search terms in offline databases in a very perfunctory way, just ticking off the lesson knowing that only the budding computer scientists and maybe a few researchers would use the specific language of search in the future. But today it is fast becoming a fundamental life skill to know how to interrogate a database – specifically, Google’s database.

On the one hand things are much more simple at the user end. You can type in a badly phrased or vague question and Google is becoming powerful enough to figure out what you need. You can just type a couple of words instead of a full sentence, and Google will get it, like a parent figuring out what their blabbering baby wants. That’s useful to some degree.

But there are a bunch of more complex terms that you can use to get more specific results, especially if you’re trying to find a needle in the haystack of Google’s data. Adding a plus sign directly in front of a search term will ensure you only get results that contain that word. Switch in a minus sign instead, and you’ll only get results that don’t contain it.

There are other shortcuts you can use to request popularly-searched results. Typing “calories in [food]” or “time in [city]” will get you the calories for that food and the time in that city in an instant, instead of just a list of links.

A super-useful one is site search. This works well when you want to search a website that doesn’t have its own search box, or which is currently offline (Google may still return ‘cached’ results, snapshots of a website from before it disappeared). To do this, simply append “site:” before the URL of the website you want to search, for example Bingo. Google will just search the site that you’ve requested. (To access cached results, click the little arrow to the right of the URL in the search results, and select “cached.”)

Getting good at this? It gets better. You can find the status of your flight simply by adding the flight number between square brackets, for example: [BA2490]. To get the release date of a movie, put the movie name between square brackets and the words ‘release date’ outside them. Typing in the unit conversion you want (i.e. “quarts in a gallon”) will bring up the appropriate conversion calculator, as will typing in currencies (i.e. “dollars to pounds.”)

Typing in “songs by [band]” or “books by [author]” will bring up that carousel of options we mentioned at the beginning, which is great for browsing, or if you can’t remember the name of a specific work of art.

Okay, so now you’re a mid-level searcher, and only moderately terrified by Google’s level of evil! You can work your way through this new instructional infographic to reach the next level. And remember to log out of Google first if you don’t want them to remember everything you searched!

Use These Nifty Google Hacks To Search Like A Pro - infographic
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