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Google-Fu: Useful Search Engine Tips

By Chris (Rain) Avila
Apr 2, 2018


Whenever you need to do a Google search to find some information, Google will automatically provide search results that seem most relevant to you and people that made a similar search query. Usually this is great, but sometimes you’re looking for something a lot more specific. I’ll provide a few Google search commands you can use that you may not use every day but will help you narrow down search results if you remember them.

Site: Command

The most commonly used search tool I use is the site: command. You would generally use this command when you know what you’re looking for and you have a particular site in mind on where to look. Say you want to look up lyrics for a song you like, and you prefer finding lyrics on genius.com. You can search that site specifically by entering: site:genius.com melancholy murs. What you’ll get is a google search looking for pages with both “melancholy” and “murs” specifically on genius.com.

Subtraction Operator

Another useful one is subtraction - but specifically when using it with words. You can use the subtraction operator with words to specify words you don’t want to appear in your search results. Using the same example as above, say you wanted to find the lyrics for Melancholy, but you didn’t know who sang the song, you just knew the name or a particular lyric. You can use the - operator to help narrow down the search. The first three results for that particular word on Genius are songs by The Weeknd, Ziggy Marley and Moody Blues. By searching with “site:genius.com melancholy -Weeknd -Ziggy -Moody,” the song by Murs is once again the top hit. This particular example isn’t very practical, but you would most commonly use it when you’re Googling something with a name similar to another thing in a, “no, not that one,” kind of scenario.

Serviceable Calculator

Google can of course also function as a serviceable calculator. On the off chance you have a computer with no calculator or don’t have a phone handy or would rather use Google. Well, Google can do type conversions as well. For instance, when figuring out how to leave a tip for a waiter you could Google “25% of 85.73,” (they were awesome) and get a tip of 21.43 (25). Or another example, If you were talking to a friend in Europe (or really any other country) and decided you wanted to understand how hot 35 degrees Celsius is, you can simply google “35 celsius to fahrenheit” and learn it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Want to figure out why your hard drive that says its 1TB only has 931GB of storage when you plug it in? Search 1TB to GiB.

Doing a search can sometimes be difficult when Google starts matching it against popular hits for the words you searched, but you really wanted it to look for a particular phrase and not for any matching of the entered words. Searching a phrase in quotes will tell Google to search for the particular phrase you entered. This won’t always have a profound effect on your search results, but it can really help when Google goes all “Did you mean:” on you.