These days the first thing we all do when looking for answers is to “Google it”. Alphabet’s search engine company has created an incredibly effective search engine. Which is why it can be very frustrating when you can’t figure out how to get the results you want from Google.
Well, if you’ve reached the end of your rope, here are a few off-the-wall Google Search tips that might just dig up those elusive search results when nothing else will.
1. Think Like a Search Engine
When search engines index pages, they use various ways to decide how to classify and refer to various sites. They also have to decide how important pages are relevant to each other and how relevant they are to the specific things that you’ve searched.
Google makes use of a technology called PageRank. This determines how important websites are based on how many other sites link to it. So how does knowing this help you?
Well, if the site or information you’re looking for would seem unimportant to PageRank, you’re more likely to find it much further down the list of sites. Certainly not on the first page or two! That’s because you and PageRank aren’t determining what’s important in the same way.
Search engines like Google are also constantly changing and refining how they determine results. While you don’t have to be a search engine expert to get effective results, it can be useful to read updates on the Google search algorithm. If you have some insight into how the search engine “thinks” it can help you figure out why you aren’t getting the results you expect with the search terms you’re using.
2. Think Like Other People
When we formulate search terms, we do it intuitively. Each person is going to have a unique way of phrasing things.They will use the vocabulary they’re comfortable with.There are a million ways to say the same thing and, depending on who you are individually, you may phrase something in a way that’s uncommon or different from the majority of people searching or writing about the topic.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a cross-cultural bit of information, you might have to do a little research on the terms used by people from that culture and include them in your own search.
Whatever the case, it can help to either make your search more mainstream or tailor it to the region most associated with your topic. Think of the human element involved and spice up your search terms with the right human flavor!
As an aside, you might want to use Google Translate to change your search phrase into another language if that’s relevant to your search. You might find something on the non-English web that has what you want.
3. Whip Out a Thesaurus
This Google Search tip speaks to the previous one to some extent, but is perhaps a little more by the book.The book in question being a thesaurus! Yes, synonyms, antonyms and all the different words that describe the same thing can be found in a thesaurus and that can help you nail down more search results. Try variations of the vocabulary you’re using in your search and see if they have any impact on the search results you get.
4. Search Around the Thing You Want
You aren’t finding the thing you’re looking for, so why not try searching for things that are closely associated with them? By searching for associated people, concepts and keywords you might just pick up information dedicated to the subject you were searching for. One of those related pages could have a reference in it to an obscure resource that Google missed.
So think about things that people might search who are digging around in the same general area as you and then either search for that or combine those search terms with the ones you’re already using for a more precise result.
5. Play Charades With Keywords
Are you trying to find a song, movie, book or some other bit of media that you just can’t remember the name of? Maybe you watched it as a child and have vague memories of it. So how are you going to find it if you don’t know the most important words, such as the title or author?
You’d be surprised at how accurate a search engine like Google can be if you simply add up all the things you CAN remember about something. If you search “movie with flying dog” Google dutifully spits out The Neverending Story as the result. The more things you can remember, the more likely the unique mix of terms together will lead you to the right place!
6. Use Something Other Than Google
Remember how we said that search engines have algorithms that make them “think” in particular ways? Well, no two search engines think alike. While Google is the most popular search engine, you’ll lose nothing by tossing your search terms into its competitors.This will give you a larger diversity of search results and offers a much better chance that you’ll find what you’re looking for.
7. Ask Other People
Search engines are fantastic pieces of software engineering, but sometimes they simply don’t compete with the wisdom of crowds. This is especially true if you’re looking for information that’s ultra-obscure or specialized. It could be more straightforward and effective to tap into the human brain directly.
Look for forums, Facebook groups and other discussion spaces where people who specialize in the subject area you need help with congregate. You can also hit up sites like Quora or Reddit and hope that people who happen to know what you’re looking for will catch wind of it. Not everything is on the web or well-indexed by search engines, so don’t write off direct human assistance!
The only real problem with this result is that you have no guarantees of a response and it could take a long time before anyone gets back to you. Still, if you’re not getting anything on Google search, you don’t have much to lose by putting a few feelers out on the web hoping for the kindness of strangers.
8. Learn the Technical Tricks
While Google has been designed to be intuitive and human-friendly, it’s still a technical piece of software. Which means there are plenty of power user features hidden behind it’s simple facade. If you really want to take control of your search destiny, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these advanced Google Search tips.
Combined with a little creativity in your searches, these technical skills will help you ascend to Google mastery. At least until the next major change to the Google algorithm, that is.