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Google. Very few brands have transitioned beyond their original intent. But Google is one of them. What started in 1998 as a small company launched by two Stanford U students to promote their new search engine has grown to become one of the world’s largest conglomerates.
Not only that, but the name Google has evolved to become a noun, an adjective and a verb. Don’t believe me? Google it for yourself.
And even though Google now offers a wide gambit of technological solutions to improve people’s life. At their core remains the search engine.
Did you know that there are over two trillion Google searches every year? It’s hard to fathom how big two trillion is, so let me put it in perspective. There are over 5 billion searches on Google every day. That’s 228 million every hour, almost 4 million searches every minute. That’s a lot of searching.
With an entire planet using them to satisfy their curious minds, Google must ensure its platform is easy to use. Easy enough for young children and seniors alike. You type in what you’re looking for in the search bar, and Google provides you with possible answers. It’s that easy.
Of course, Google’s results aren’t always what you’re looking for. But they make it very easy to try again with another search.
But what if I told you some simple tricks could help you get better results on the first try?
Here are 16 search hacks to help you find things faster on Google.
1) Use quotation marks (“”) in your search.
Enclosing your search term in quotation marks will return results with that exact phrase.
For example, searching for “How to start a graphic design business” will only show results with those words in that exact order. Using quotation marks in your search makes it easy to find precisely what you’re looking for.
NOTE: Using double quotations (“““”) tells Google what’s inside them MUST be in the search results.
2) Use a minus sign (–) to exclude words from your search.
If your search produced nonrelevant results, try eliminating words by placing a minus sign in front of them.
For example, if you want to know the top speed of a Jaguar, the cat, not the car. You could search for “jaguar speed -car” This will eliminate searches about the jaguar motor vehicle.
3) Use Site: only to show results from a specific website.
Not every website has a search bar. But that doesn’t matter if you know Google’s site search function. Adding Site: followed by the website you want to search, along with your search term, will return results only from that website.
For example, to find out how many computers you can install Photoshop on, you could search for “Site:adobe.com how many computers can I install Photoshop on?” The results will only give you answer from the Adobe website.
4) Use an Asterisk (*) as a wildcard in your search.
An Asterisk is a star-looking character you get by pressing Shift-8 on your keyboard (*). Replace a word in your search with an Asterisk to see results with multiple possibilities.
For example, if you’re planning a trip to Disney land. Searching for “best * at Disney Land” will return results for the best food at Disney Land, the best rides at Disney Land, the best hotels at Disney Land, the best shows at Disney Land, etc. You get the idea.
The Asterisk is very useful when combined with the Site: operator. For example, if you want to find results only from government websites, include site:*.gov in your search string, and you’ll only get results from websites with a .gov extension.
5) use OR or AND in all-caps to find multiple results.
Using OR or AND returns results from both sides of the operator.
OR can be used to find multiple results. For example, you could search for “Christmas decorating ideas in blue OR Green.” You’ll get results showing blue ideas and results showing green ideas.
AND can be similarly used to combine results. Searching for “Christmas decorating ideas in blue AND green” will show you results with ideas that combine blue and green.
6) Use Intitle: to find results from a web page’s title.
The Intitle: operator can be very useful in narrowing down your searches by only displaying results that include your search term in the web page’s title.
For example, if you search for intitle: “communicating with your design clients,” Google will show you two results. Episode 284 of the Resourceful Designer podcast on https://resourcefuldesigner.com and the same podcast episode on YouTube. That’s because no other web page in Google index has “communicating with your design clients” in the title.
Intitle: is very useful for finding relevant pages specific to your search and not just mentioning your search term somewhere in the body.
7) Use Allinurl: to find results from a web page’s URL.
The Allinurl: operator is similar to the Intitle: operator, except this time, the search term is in the URL of the website instead of the title.
For example, typing “Allinurl: Resourceful Designer niche” will return every web page containing the words Resourceful Designer and niche in the URL.
8) Use Filetype: to find specific files.
This is one of my favourite Google hacks. Using Filetype: lets you find specific file types such as .doc, .png or .pdf.
Say you want to find a user manual for something you bought second-hand, such as a treadmill. Searching for the treadmill’s brand name and model number and including Filetype:pdf in your search query will show you results of PFD files of your treadmill’s user manual.
This is one of my favourite Google Hacks. I use it all the time to get vector logos from companies in combination with the site: operator I mentioned earlier.
For example, say I’m designing a poster for a local event, and I need to include sponsor logos on it. Contacting each sponsor to find a vector version of their logo can be tedious. But if they’re a well-established company, you can sometimes search their website for pdf files and extract the vector logo yourself.
Just search for site:[the company’s website] Filetype:pdf. This will show you a list of all the PDFs on that company’s website. It’s then easy to look through them and find one that has a logo you can extract. Filetype: has saved me countless hours over the years.
9) Use Related: to find similar websites.
I find this one useful when doing research. By typing related: and entering a website URL, Google will show you websites it thinks are similar to the one you entered.
For example, searching for related:shutterstock.com will show you websites Google believes are similar to Shutterstock.
10) Use Cache: to see a website’s cached version.
Cache: is helpful if the website you are trying to visit is down. Or if you want to buy a domain and see how it was used before.
I used this recently after an Instagram ad and purchasing something from the resulting website. The item I received wasn’t at all as described in the ad. And when I went back to the website, it was gone.
Luckily, I found a cached version of the site using Cache: and the site’s domain name and managed to find their contact information. After several back and forths, they agreed to return my money.
11) Use Link: to find pages that link to another page.
This one is useful if you are interested in website backlinks and where they originate.
Enter Link: followed by a URL; the search results will show you all the sites that link to that page.
This is an excellent way of finding out who links to your website or a competitor’s website.
12) Use the Plus Sign (+) to include specific websites or terms in your search results.
You can use the Plus sign (+)similarly to the Site: operator. Searching niche+resourceful designer will show results containing both niche and Resourceful Designer.
You can also use it as a quick way to narrow down a search. For example, you can search for “famous quote+Henry Ford,” and you’ll get results containing quotes from Henry Ford.
13) Us a Tilde (~) to find approximate words.
The tilde is the wave-like line usually found on your keyboard’s key to the left of the number 1. Press Shift to type it.
Tilde is helpful if you are unsure of the spelling word’s spelling or if there are multiple spellings of a word.
For example, since I’m in Canada, I spell the word colour with a “u.” But while searching for a new printer, I would get the best results by typing “best ~colour printer.” This way, I’ll get results showing the best COLOR printers and COLOUR printers.
14) Use brackets () in your search to isolate parts of your search string.
Brackets allow you to combine multiple methods I’ve shared above in a single search string.
Similar to a math problem, such as (2+3) x 2 = 10, where you solve what’s in the brackets first and then the rest of the equation, adding brackets to your search string can help focus your search.
Here’s an example of a search combining multiple methods and using brackets to separate them.
Site:aiga.org (conference OR workshop) AND (Photoshop OR Illustrator)
15) Search a range of numbers using two dots (..)
If you want only to see results between a range of numbers, use two dots between the numbers.
For example, typing “who won the Super Bowl 1996..1999” will show results containing the Super Bowl winners from 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.
16) Use @ to find something on social media
If you’re searching for something and only want results from social media, include @ and the social media platform. For example, “Taylor Swift @twitter” will return results containing “Taylor Swift” found on Twitter.
Google can do so much more.
There you have it, 16 hacks to improve your Google searching and help you find things faster. And that’s only scratching the surface. Google has so many other uses as well.
Need to figure out a math problem? Type it into Google search.
Need to do a quick conversation from Fahrenheit to Celcius or miles to kilometres or convert anything else? Type it into Google search.
Need to know how much your money is worth elsewhere? Do a quick currency conversion in Google search.
Are you planning a trip? Search [City Name] to [City Name] to get flight costs from multiple airlines.
Need to know what time it is anywhere in the world? Type “Time in [city]” to find out.
Don’t know what a word means, type define before the word to learn its definition. You can also type etymology before a word to find its origins.
Google can also be used to translate languages, get stock prices, find weather forecasts, and so much more. It is a wonderful tool.
And I hope that after reading this, you’re now more proficient in using it.
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