Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Get More From Your Google Searches

Most of us use Google every day and for many it can be a frustrating exercise trawling through irrelevant search results before finding what you need. Power users don't have this trouble, they know how to get what they need quickly by laser targeting their searches and here I'll show you, in plain English, how to do the same.

The Basics

Without using any of the fancy tricks I'm going to show you later, you can have a much better experience with Google by following these simple rules:

  1. Use multi-word phrases - quality butcher Aberdeen is going to return better results than simply typing the word butcher. Feel free to use long search phrases, and we'll cover how to make these even more effective later.
  2. Use natural language - again quality butcher Aberdeen is going to be better than Aberdeen butcher quality.
  3. Use quotes - if you know the exact phrase you're looking for consider using quotes round your phrase . For example if you're looking for websites who accept guest posts1 you might search using the query chicken recipes "guest post". With this example adding the quotes round the words guest post reduces the results returned from 10.5m to 1.5m! Don't worry I'll show you how to further reduce these numbers later!
  4. Use the * wildcard - Again if you're looking for websites who accept recipe guest posts, but not specifically for chicken recipes, use * recipes "guest post" this will return pages that match many types of recipes and accept guest posts.
  5. Excluding results - Let's say you're looking for guest post opportunities on recipe sites but you are not interested in writing for sites specialising in cake recipes. Something like this would do the trick * recipes "guest post" -"cake". Alternatively * recipes "guest post" "cake" OR "pie" would find results relating to sites who accept guest posts on the subject of cake or pie.

I could go on but these basic steps will help you find what you need much quicker. Play around with these methods yourself and see how the search results change then read on for some more advanced search techniques.

Further Fine Tuning

File Types

You may notice when searching in Google that the results include web pages, PDF documents, Word documents etc. Let's say you're specifically looking for an MS Word template, perhaps you're writing a business plan, and you'd like to use someone else's hard work as a starting point. This search would find what you're looking for "business plan" filetype:doc. Of course you could use the tips from above to further fine tune this, for example "business plan" "butcher" filetype:doc might be useful if you're writing a business plan for a butchers business.

Searching a Specific Site

Let's say you know there's some information on a specific website but you just can't find it. For example you've heard about our superb SEO explained cartoon but try as you might you can't locate it. This search would be the way to do it seo explained site:www.redevolution.com. It should be self explanatory what's happening here.

Find Matching Page Titles

It's well known in SEO circles that a page's title element is the single most important part of the page if you're trying to rank that page for a particular search phrase. Therefore it makes sense that being able to find pages with a specific word or phrase in their titles might return relevant results. For the rest of us the page title element is the blue text you click on in a search result. Searching for pages using a specific phrase in their page title is simple and here's how I'd look for pages with the phrase SEO explained in their page title intitle:"seo explained".

There's also a similar operator called allintitle to be used when you're looking for page titles that contain each of number of words even though they don't create a phrase. For example if you want to find pages with title elements that contain the words seo local guest post you could use allintitle:seo local guest post. This would be more effective than intitle:"seo local guest post". In fact the allintitle version finds 40 results, the intitle none. In short use intitle to search for exact phrases, with the addition of quotes, and allintitle to search for random words when you want the page title to contain all of them.

And Finally

Hopefully this little foray into improving the way you use Google to find what you need more efficiently has whetted your appetite to learn more. This excellent book will give a lot more detail and in my view is well worth a read. Learning to be smarter with search is a smart thing to do.

  1. A guest post is an article you write for a website other than your own. For the most part people do this to secure a link from the article back to their own website because this can hep improve rankings. There's more to it but that's the basic idea.

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