How to find answers (without asking)
Have you ever been scolded for asking a “stupid question?” Do you wish there was a way to avoid bothering people for information? You’re in luck because there is!
With the information age upon us, it is no longer necessary to ask anyone for answers. In fact, the internet is capable of replacing your friends, books, and school as the primary source for information! To clarify I am not recommending that you throw out your books, drop out of school, or exile your friends…but I am recommending that you turn to your phone or computer for answers.
How Google can change your life
Most of us are familiar with looking for information on Google and finding hundreds (or thousands) of search results. This can be overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for answers that aren’t common or trending. It is surprising that people don’t understand how to narrow search results on Google, but the information I’m about to share with you can greatly increase efficiency when hunting for answers on the world wide web!
The first thing you can do is narrow down where Google is searching for information. This can be narrowed down to a specific website, file type, language, region, or any of the six items listed below. In order to do this, you simply follow the rule below (and ensure this is the first thing listed in the search bar).
-site: (nytimes.com, WebMD.com …etc.)
-file type: (PDF, XLS (Excel) …etc.)
-last update: (past 24 hours, past week, past month, past year …etc.)
-terms appearing: (anywhere on the page, in the title of the page, in the URL of the page, in the text of the page …etc.)
-language: (any language)
-region: (list a country or continent)
After narrowing Google down to only searching from this data-pool we can choose specific words to look for, words to exclude, and a range of numbers to search between. The five bullets below list what to type in order to specify your search in this way.
1. all these words: (Type the important words: tricolor rat terrier)
2. this exact word or phrase: (Put exact words in quotes: “rat terrier”)
3. any of these words: (Type OR between all the words you want: miniature OR standard)
4. none of these words: (Put a minus sign just before words you don’t want: -rodent, -“Jack Russell”)
5. numbers ranging from (Put 2 periods between the numbers and add a unit of measure: 10..35 lb, $300..$500, 2010..2011)
Note* if using more than one of these tools they must be utilized in the order they are numbered below, otherwise the search engine will not understand exactly what you wish to see. For example, if I wish to search 2, 3, and 4 it would look like this
If you look at the above image you will notice over 10 million search results (WOW!) Now take a look at what happens when we implement just a couple more of these advanced search techniques.
It was narrowed down to only three results! That is a much more efficient use of your time.
How to shift your mindset
This information does nothing unless you put forth the effort to find answers for yourself. For the next week, anytime you think of a question go immediately to your phone, and find the answer!
It is amazing to me that we as a society are content to sit on our phone all day, but when we need to know what time a store closes we don’t think to ask our “smart” phone. We need to spend less time using our phone unproductively, and conversely, more time using it to make us more efficient in life.
“What time does target close?” (Google knows)
“Where is the trailhead?” (Google knows)
“What is the phone number for _____ (Google knows)
It is amazing what can be found on the internet if searched correctly. Last week I was able to find the owners name, owners address, and status (about to be auctioned off) of abandoned property (across the country) in less than five minutes. With this information, I was able to write an offer to purchase the property before it goes to auction in September, but without a thorough understanding of Googles’ inner-workings I might have never found this information; maybe I wouldn’t have even tried. (See current projects for updates as they unfold)
In this modern age, it is imperative that we understand how to utilize search engines in order to gather information on our own from the big data storehouses. This will allow us to find answers to important questions, fact-check stories we read online, and learn new information (stay tuned for next post).
What techniques do you use in order to enhance your search results?
Do you think it is important to be able to function and find answers, on your own?
Leave us some comments, or email us about future topics!