In The Psychology of Science, Abraham Maslow famously stated, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Most people tend to use the Google Search Engine as a blunt tool -and treat every search as if it’s the same.
Google Search isn’t a hammer at all -it’s more like a Swiss Army Knife.
Here are just a few ways in which you can Google Smarter:
1. Google Scholar: Anybody can share anything online without any evidence to support their claims. If you want to be like the person who shares The Onion articles on Facebook believing them to be true -then by all means keep looking up serious inquiries using the standard Google Search Engine. If you’d rather learn about serious subjects direct from the raw research and form your own opinions intelligently -then Google Scholar is what you should be using.
2. Customize Your Omnibox: If you’re using Internet Explorer -shame on you. That’s an outdated prescription. You should use better glasses for the internet. If you’re using Google Chrome -the Omnibox (the place where you’re probably typing “www” and “.com” to get to websites) can be customized. If you want to do this too, just click the Browser ‘Settings’ -then find the ‘Search’ area, and where it says ‘Manage Search Engines, add the following string, “https://www.google.com/search?tbs=qdr:y&q=%s“.
Now, when you want to Google something , just start typing it in your ‘www’ area. Press enter, and voila! Not only will it Google what you just typed -but it will restrict your results to items from the last year. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for the most up to date information available.
BONUS: You can customize it to search specific databases just by typing in a keyword of your choice. For me, if I want to look up an actor -but I want the IMDB results, or Wikipedia results -I can type ‘I’ or ‘W’ and press the spacebar -and it will only search that site for the information I want. Just go to the website that you’d like, right click in its search box and select “Add As Search Engine”. Then, in the “keyword” box, type in the keyboard shortcut you’d like to use. It’s really that simple.
3. Use Google Search Operators: Lastly, use the built in ‘Search Operators’. Using quotation marks around a phrase will only look for instances of that exact phrase. Type ‘Site:’ and your search will only pull information from that site. Typing ‘Type:’ will only return that kind of file to your (eg. .doc will only return Microsoft Word Documents uploaded online).
By themselves, Google Search Operators are very helpful. When added together, they can start to get really powerful.
For example, at work, if you need to quickly learn about something that you know very little about, Google the subject with “site:.edu” and “type:.ppt”.
This will only show you Powerpoint lectures from schools (almost always colleges).
Then, sit back, and quickly glean the important points from a professional presentation instead of trying to decipher irrelevant Google search results all by yourself.
Anyhow, there are a whole lot more tricks to using the Google Search Engine. If you want to know more -just Google it!