Improve your Googling skills

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Did you know that the act of “Googling” has made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary? A term that was unheard of a decade ago has now become an integral part of our everyday vernacular. Googling may be something that all of us do on a regular basis for everything from directions to health advice but we do not always use it as efficiently as we can. Use these shortcuts to make your browsing and searching smarter and to even improve your website’s search engine optimization.

Built-In Functions

By accident some of us may have come across the built-in functions of Google. When faced with a mathematical dilemma, you can type in a formula (such as “2+2”) and the calculator function will pop up where you can see the answer and use it exactly as you would a traditional calculator. The time function, where you type in the word “time”, seems obsolete considering that your phone, your PC or laptop and your watch can provide you with the same information. It is useful nonetheless to see whether you have the correct time and to check what time it is around the world.

In the global village that is the Internet, unit and currency conversion can be very useful. To utilize these functions, you can use the basic phrase “(unit or currency) in (unit or currency)”. As an example, type in “20 Dollars in Rand” and the online converter will provide you with the answer, as well as giving you the opportunity to change the units or currency. The currency converter also comes along with a chart showing you the fluctuations that have occurred over the years.


Sometimes research necessitates you to focus on certain data ranges and therefore you do not want to sift through endless sites to find what you need. Here you have to make use of two full stops in between the ranges or time periods that you want Google to search. For example, if you want to know what the best mobile applications were from 2010 to 2012, you simply enter “best mobile applications 2010..2012” and the results that return will only focus on the years that you have specified.

The Wildcard Search

Ever have a difficult time remembering the exact lyrics to a song or the title of a movie? The wildcard search will help you remember. The “*” symbol is all you need. As an example, type in “another one * the dust song” and it will return websites specifically mentioning Queen’s song lyrics for “Another One Bites the Dust”.

Specific Operators

These search “elves” help you to further narrow down your searches to a category, theme or format. These operators include “music:”, “movies:”, “filetype:” (specifically for searching for PDF, Excel or Word documents) and “define:” (when you want to know the definition of a word).

Another helpful hint is a manner in which you can search for a term in other places besides the webpage. Use “inurl:”, “intitle:”, “intext:” and “inanchor” to locate a term or information in the infrastructure of a website.

Looking for archived pages? Then simply make use of “cached:” to search through outdated areas of the Internet. When searching for a phrase or article in a specific site, enter “site:” along with the site name and the term you want Google to look for. An example would be “ war” and results will only be returned from the requested site.

Including or Excluding Search Terms

This function seems self-explanatory yet not many people use it or even know about it. The “-” and “+” signs will help you to include or exclude terms in your search to improve the accuracy of your results. An example would be “+apps -Android” and then subsequent results will show apps but Android will not feature.

The Tilde

A tilde, for those who perhaps do not know, looks like this “~”. This squiggle seems to have no purpose on your keyboard but Google has made it useful. By placing the tilde in front of any word, you will receive results that mention the synonyms of that word and not of the word that you have entered in your search.


All of these functions are useful in improving the way you search by more accurately specifying what you want to see. Above all, these functions and search methods can aid you in analyzing your website and the way it appears to the outside world.

To better illustrate this, we can use the imaginary address of Use “” to find out what type of sites link to your website. When you need to see pages that are similar to yours, type in “” and “” shows you the information that Google displays in searches for your website.

These functions may seem trivial but, as you can see above, they can be useful in measuring the success of your search engine optimization (SEO) and what image your company is portraying on the Internet. Next time you Google something, try one of the exotic functions mentioned above and push Google to its full potential.