The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Google Search

9 August 2019Danni Warner6 min read

Google receives over 63,000 searches every single second, with the average person conducting about 3-4 a day. Millions of people use the search engine daily without knowing about the countless tips and tricks that Google provide, helping you to be more efficient.

Using quotes to include the whole phrase

When using quotations marks, your search engine knows to only search for websites that include your entire phrase. Sometimes when searching for a phrase or item, Google will take search terms and display websites that contain them in any order. If you wanted to search for a quote but Google was giving you results related to a few of the search terms, you would surround the search is quotations.

For example: “All things in space and time emit waves, and these waves interact with the waves produced by other things”

Without the quotation marks, Google would present articles from BBC Bitesize on electromagnetic waves. However, with the quotation marks, the quote is mentioned on multiple websites along with the author and source.

Using hyphens to exclude a search term

This hack is commonly used when you’re searching an ambiguous word. For example, if you wanted to research fords (a shallow place where a river or stream that may be crossed by wading), you’d be faced with endless results about the motor company. To prevent this, you’d use a hyphen to tell the search engine to ignore any results containing that word.

Example: ford -car

This will present you with results that have already been filtered to help you find what you’re looking for. Additionally, this can also be used for websites that you don’t want to see. If there’s a topic that you’re researching that displays websites you deem unhelpful, you can automatically filter out all results by that site.

Example: Liam Hemsworth

Using site: to search on specific domains

Instead of excluding sites, you can also search for content on a specific site. This could be useful if you had lost an article that you had enjoyed and wanted to find it again, or if you had a favourite site that you used for studying but needed to find a specific topic on it.

Example: two-step equations

This would provide you with any content on that site that contains your search term.

Using asterisks to fill in the gaps

If you’re trying to find that song you don’t know the name of or a famous quote that you can’t remember, Google has got your back. When searching, you can replace any missing words with an asterisk and Google will fill in the gap for you.

For example: here * the *

This would display results for Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. Google would search this phrase knowing that the placeholders could be any word and will provide you with the most likely option.

Using Google to solve maths problems

Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and percentages are all quick work for Google. The search engine is also capable of showing the values of known mathematical terms. For example, if you were to Google pi, it would display 3.14159265359 (as well as a scientific calculator).

Searching for more than one word or phrase at a time

This is a helpful tip if you’re struggling to find the results that exactly fit your search. This tip allows you to include 2 separate phrases in a single search.

Example: “how to play the piano” OR “piano for beginners”

Google would display the results that contained either of these phrases in their entirety (see quotation mark tip above). There are alternative ways to use this tip, for example, if there were two different search words that you’d like in your results but they weren’t exclusive to each other you could search:

Duck OR Goose

And you would see results for sites that contain either the word duck or goose.

Gradually add to your search terms

If you can’t immediately find what you’re looking for, be more specific with your search and slowly refine the results. Websites can phrase similar content differently, so you don’t always want your initial search to be too specific as this could cut out some of the content you’re looking for.

Using words that the website would use

Despite not being a trick, this is something you’ll want to do to guarantee you’re searching as efficiently as possible. For example, if your stomach hurt you wouldn’t want to search “my stomach hurts”, you’d search for “stomach pain relief” in order to get more results. It’s easy to google things using the language that you would when talking to another person, but this is less efficient. Use appropriate terminology in order to get more appropriate reliable results.

Using filetype: to narrow down your search to the file type you want

A helpful feature of Google’s is the option to narrow your search down to the exact file type that you require. For example, if you wanted to find a pdf file centred around South America, you’d search “South America filetype:pdf”. Similarly, if you wanted a PowerPoint presentation based on cute animals, you could simply search “cute animals filetype:ppt”.

Using Google to track your packages

Instead of having to go onto your courier’s websites, you can put your tracking number directly into google. The number will be recognised and automatically provide a link to your tracking page. This

Using related: to find websites related to what you like

Everyone has a few websites that they frequently visit, although it’s not always easy to find content that is similar and just as enjoyable. That’s where google helps us out by allowing us to use the related: qualifier. For example, if you loved using Facebook but wanted to explore other platforms, you’d search and it would display Twitter, LinkedIn, and various other social media.

Using two dots to determine a number range

This is a handy trick if you’re an online shopper or regularly working with money or statistics. This trick allows you to search in a specific number range to help narrow down your search.

For example: premier league winner ..2012

This would tell Google to display the winners of the premier league in 2012 only, no results for before or after that year. An alternate way to use this trick is to determine a price range if you’re shopping online.

For example: children’s bikes £120..£150

This would display results within that price range.

Using Google to show sports scores and statistics

For any sports fanatic, all it takes is the name of your favourite team for Google to pull up any relevant information. For example, if you Google “Arsenal”, 4 subheadings will appear. Upcoming matches, any relevant news articles, the table that they’re in, as well as a list of their current players will be displayed for your ease.

Using Google time restraints

Found in Google’s search tools on mobile and desktop, this is a handy tool to make sure you only get the most recent results regarding your topic of choice. The option to choose a specific time frame also allows you to find relevant results from the past which can be both helpful and interesting.

Using a reverse image search

This feature lets you upload an image and see where else the image exists on the internet. If Google can recognise what’s in the image, Sydney Opera House, for example, the information will be presented on that topic to read through. There’s also an option to view images that Google deems visually similar. All you have to do is click the camera in the Google search bar and upload your image. It will also work if you drag and drop your image into the search bar.

Google Easter eggs

Last but certainly not least, Google has an extensive collection of hidden easter eggs. Whether these stemmed from April Fools jokes or if the developers sometimes had too much time on their hands, here is a list of just a few of the surprises incorporated into the search engine:

  • Pac-Man – If you search “Pac-Man”, Google provides you with a small version of the game which you can manoeuvre with your arrow keys.
  • Bacon number – If you type any celebrity’s name followed by “bacon number”, you’ll see a number from 1-6. This number is how many degrees of separation that person is from Kevin Bacon. The theory of Six Degrees of Separation suggests that no two people are more than 6 links away from each other (or Kevin Bacon).
  • Atari Breakout – If you’ve got some time to kill, head over to Google Images and search “atari breakout”. Here you’ll be able to enjoy the classic video game, just using your mouse or arrow keys.
  • Askew – This one is simple, all you have to do is Google “askew” and Google with set the page at a tilt. This will reset as soon as you search for something else.
  • Flip a coin – You probably already know about this easter egg as it’s settled many arguments since it’s been developed. If you google “flip a coin”, you’ll be presented with a card containing an animated coin that you can flip as many times as you require.
  • Roll a Die – Similarly to the coin flipping easter egg, Google allows you to roll dice by simply searching “roll a die”/”roll a dice”. Originally, you could roll one 6-sided dice but this has since been improved. You now have the ability to roll as many dice as you wish, with either 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 sides.
  • Anagram – If you search anagram, Google will respond with “Did you mean: nag a ram?”. Taking a step further, if you ask google to define anagram, you similarly be met with “Did you mean: nerd fame again?”.

Here’s a full list of Google’s easter eggs.