Google, the synonym for every question or requirement today, is a 134-billion-dollar company based out of California, USA. The company is the leading service provider to all things internet, like online advertising techniques, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google, along with Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are the big four of the internet industry.
Though Google heavily invests in different areas of the internet, their primary claim to fame is their definitive search engine and their patented search algorithm. With a market share of almost 93% as of June 2019, Google Web Search facilitates almost 5.4 billion searches per day, which is an astounding 62,500 searches per second.
Google has become synonymous with our daily life as we look to it for answers related to every aspect of our day-to-day activities; which includes answers to our choice of restaurants, recipes for cooking, answers to technological questions, and whatnot.
Google has a very rich information source that is constantly enhanced through web-scraping and other in-house mechanisms, to keep the data refreshed and updated to the current scenario. And the multiple interfaces that Google provides to get the data to make it plentiful and abundant for anyone seeking answers.
But, there is a catch to this. The search results returned by Google depends on the quality of the search criteria. Every search that we perform in this world is driven by two factors: precision and accuracy.
In general, these two terms might sound synonymous, but when you measure them against a search result set returned by Google, you will be able to understand the difference.
Through the example below, we will try and understand the same difference before venturing further into the topic.
Suppose you search for “Paris” in Google Web Search. Then the results returned to me would contain Paris, the famous city in France.
However, there will be results that will also include Paris Hilton, the celebrity socialite and even Paris Jackson, daughter to the legendary pop-singer Michael Jackson. Even some results might include a reference to Prince Paris, from the Greek Mythology of Troy.
Now your intention must have been to search for the city of Paris, but you also get the unwanted results along with it, because your search criteria only had the word “Paris” in it.
To eliminate the unwanted result, we need to modify the search to “Paris, France”. And this would only return results related to Paris, the city in France.
The above example clearly outlines the difference between precision and accuracy. In the first case, our search results were accurate, because all results had a mention of Paris in it. But it lacked precision, which increased when we modified the search result to out intended use.
We would devote the rest of this article to understand and learn some techniques to effectively search on Google and to increase our precision in the search.
Effective Ways to Search on Google
Use Google Tabs
The first and rudimentary technique to better search in Google is to make use of the various tabs that Google provides.
For example, if you want to search for news articles related to Vodafone, first navigate to the News tab present in Google.com and then search for Vodafone.
What this does is, it limits your search to only the latest news about Vodafone and return related results as per your search criteria and eliminate all other search results which might not be part of the news, but are general information about Vodafone the company. Likewise, this can be expanded to the other tabs like Images, Music, etc.
Use Quotes Search
Many occasions arise when we have to look for specific items in the search like a six-string Gibson guitar, where Gibson is the brand on the guitar. In such cases, to limit your searches to exactly the Gibson brand of the guitar, you can put your search in quotes, like “six-string Gibson guitar” and google will try to match the same across all its results and return them as matched.
Use Exclude Word Technique
Another interesting technique to refine searches is to use the hyphen (-) to exclude matches and reduce the false positives from the results.
For example, searching for Paris gives you Paris, France and also Paris Hilton. But if you search Paris –Hilton, it would exclude any match to Paris Hilton and return all other matches to Paris.
Here anything mentioned in the search after a hyphen (-) is recognized as an exclusion to the original search and matches are excluded from the final result.
Colon Search to Specific Sites
Sometimes we look for specific sites whose web address or URL we are not sure of. In such cases, Google search can search for specific sites with our search criteria.
Suppose we want to look into the National Skills Registry (NSR) site, but are not sure of the web address, then we can simply search for the National Skills Registry site:.com or National Skills Registry site:nsr.com. It would return the matches to the sites which belong to the National Skills Registry.
Wildcard Search (Not Working Anymore)
The asterisk (*) is the famous wildcard character that is used to search for items we are unsure of. This is a great technique to search for lyrics of a song, poems that we know little of.
For example, Come*feed*rain, would more of than not lead to the song Carnival of Rust, by Poets of the Fall. It might look gibberish or nonsense but asterisk indicates the Google Search Engine to fill in the void with matching words to build all possible search criteria and bring back the search results.
Google also gives you an excellent feature to search for related sites. For example, sites like Flipkart, Myntra, etc. have related lines of businesses as Amazon. Also Amazon Streaming Service like Amazon Prime, Storytel is similar to Netflix, or Disney+. Hence when searched for related:amazon.com, it will return sites like Flipkart, Myntra, etc.
Searches would often bring a dilemma with it. To eliminate such restrictions to conditions, Google lets you perform conditional searches with the leverage of operators like AND, OR, etc.
These keywords let you search for multiple conditions in a single search and return results as per the criteria.
For example, “top 10 songs in Bollywood” or “10 leading songs in Bollywood”. Please note that AND/OR searches are always coupled with quotes or phrase searches to indicate them as operator and not words in the search.
Another seldom used technique for the Google search is the range search mechanism. Here you can simply separate two ends of a number series by two dots and search for all data between them.
Like if you want to search for the world cup football winners between 1990 and 2020, then you need to simply type in World Cup Football winners 1990..2020 and it will give you the list of winners between the given date.
Google has various shortcuts built into the search. These are not your typical searches but can be done to minimize the time for the search. Listed below are some of the searches
Weather *zip code*
This allows you to search for the weather of a particular area by zip code or pin code. Do remember that this works seamlessly with US zip codes.
However, for other countries, you need to specify the country and the zip code together for the search.
For example, Weather 08520 will give you the weather of Cranbury, New Jersey in the USA. But for an India based zip code, you need to modify your search to Weather India 700001.
Solve Basic Mathematics
By typing in the direct combination of the mathematical problem you can let google solve the calculation for you. Like, typing in 45*(3+7) gives you 450 as a result directly.
Words and Definitions
Google searches can be used to define words and learn of their meanings. Just type in Define:*word* to get the meaning, phonetics and thesaurus definitions of any word.
Keep it Simple
Google works best when you keep things simple. Like instead of searching for “Find me the places which serve pizza near to my place” just such for “Pizza places nearby”.
The precision and number of results in the second instance would be much more relevant and useful. The list of such tips is never-ending.