Getting Fast and Reliable Answers from Google

We’re all familiar with the Google web search engine and how it can streamline and simplify Internet searches with the minimum amount of fuss. Google built their reputation on returning the most valid and relevant search results possible to their users based on their chosen keywords. And for the most part, they do an admirable job despite the inherent complexity of the web and the large volume of junk websites floating around. But you can maximize the effectiveness of your queries by modifying your search terms to deliver more specific results, saving you time, money and frustration in the process.

The best way to cull the results delivered by a Google search is through the use of built-in search parameters. For example, if you want to find out what the weather’s going to be like in Atlanta, Georgia, you’d enter “weather Atlanta” first to get direct results on the current weather in that area. Or, if you’d like to find the stock price of Apple, enter their ticker symbol of AAPL rather than the name of the corporation. Google’s set up to return a stock chart as their number one result if you enter a ticker symbol written in capital letters. If you want a dictionary entry for a certain word, type “Define” before that word when you enter it in the search field.

Another great way to augment the functionality of Google’s algorithms is through the use of operators. Operators are characters or keywords that you enter along with your query to filter out irrelevant entries. If you want a story about Libya, but you only want stories from CNN, type “” before your keywords to return only results from that site. If you feel like excluding results, add a minus to a keyword to filter it out. For example, “cheap flights -Jetblue” excludes Jetblue from a search for cheap flight plans. Using quotes around your search terms, such as “Florida Keys”, returns only pages that include that exact phrase and not one term or the other.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to using Google than blindly punching in search terms and hoping for the best. You can fine-tune your results with operators and the built-in search features Google already offers by default. Rather than waste your time utilizing the “spray and pray” approach to web search, take a little time to research ways to more specifically find what you’re looking for. Google offers a fairly well-documented guide on how to get more from your searches. With a little effort, you can supercharge that dry, boring old search engine for the best results possible.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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