Last week, I took an online course in Google Powersearch. A lecture that shows you the ins and outs of the google search engine. Designed to help you find exactly what you’re looking for in one simple hit. The course takes you beyond the search bar and shows you how to use features like the toolbar and settings. I grew up playing video games and surfing the web, but even I found features and shortcuts that will help me in future searches. I want to share some of these tricks with you, and hopefully inspire you to become better at using google and maybe even taking the course yourself. To illustrate these handy features, I will be using a lot of images in this article, and I will be using similar examples like the ones shown in the course. Here are 5 tips to improve your google searching.
- Filtering Images
My favorite car is the Lamborghini Aventador. So, let’s say I want to look it up for myself or maybe I want to rent or buy one. When buying a car of this magnitude, a natural step is to figure out as much as possible about it, including what color you want the car to be in. An easy way to do this is to use google image search.
In the image above you see a standard result by googling the full name of the car (A). But let’s say I want to know what the car would look like in blue. There are two easy ways of doing this. You can click the thumbnail titled “blue” in the selected keywords above the images (B), or you can open the tools section and select colors from a color palette (C). When doing either of these steps google will leave you with something like this:
Notice how our search query hasn’t changed (A) but the color of all the cars have changed to blue. In addition to changing the images and giving us what we wanted, the keyword bubbles above the image has changed to variations of blue and types of paint finish (B). In this image the toolbar is opened (C) and we can filter further by selecting size, what type, when it was posted and information about the ownership rights to the images.
This way of filtering images doesn’t always work. If I want a picture of a blue tree as my logo for a campaign or a flyer, googling “tree” and changing the color palette will give me images of green trees with the blue sky in the background. Instead, using more of the tools available I was able to get this:
The color is set to blue (A) and I have changed the license filter (B) to show me images I can reuse for my campaign. But more importantly I have sorted the image type to “Clip Art” (C) which gave me more fitting images for a logo.
- Image Search
Ever wondered what you’re looking at? Google Images can help you figure out what the image you’re looking at is, or where it has been posted before. By pressing the small camera to the right in the search box. It will give you the option to upload your image or paste in a URL. In my example I’m trying to figure out what the animal in this image is.
I now know that the animal is a chameleon, and further down in the results I also find where it has been posted in the past.
- Finding specific words or text
Out of the 5 tips in this article, this is probably the tip most people already know about. It is extremely handy and can shorten the amount of time you spend working by a lot. Let’s say you’re writing an article and want to reference a different article by another author but can’t remember where the quote or sentence you were looking for is. You remember most of what it said, but you want to be accurate, obviously. To do this, simply go to the website or online document and press CTRL+F on PC or Command+F on Mac. A small text box will pop up on your screen, when typing in a word it will locate all the places that word has been used.
In the image above, I looked up Microsoft on Wikipedia and used the CTRL+F command to see where and how many times Bill Gates (Company founder) was mentioned. His name shows up with a yellow background in the article, an orange background on a clickable link to his own Wikipedia page and yellow lines on the scroll bar to see where on the page he is mentioned. This way I found exactly what I was looking for in a few seconds, instead of having to skim through the entire article.
- Advanced Searches
Google is quick and easy to use. I have already gone over some filter options that can be used to better find exactly what you’re looking for, without having to search for hours on end. In addition to the filter option, you can also use “advanced search” which can be found under settings after doing a google search.
In this example I googled the Coronavirus, which is a popular search topic around the world now. The virus is talked about by nearly every national media station around the globe and doing a quick google search like this will leave you with over one billion results. Notice how all 3 articles that showed up are from BBC and that none of them are news about the virus itself.
By using advanced search I can add, change and modify my search to better fit what I am actually looking for. On this page you can filter out and in words you want and change geographical filters which I am going to talk more about in the next tip.
Learning how to translate websites opens the possibility of reading millions of articles that would normally be impossible to understand. In the last tip I talked about the Coronavirus and the massive media coverage around the globe. As of write this, there are currently 11 confirmed cases of the virus in France. So, I wanted to see what the French media is saying about the current situation. This is easier said than done. If I google search “Coronavirus in France” I would get English articles on the topic, so I must find the French articles some other way.
Luckily, Coronavirus or (2019-nCoV), is the universal term for the disease. So, by using the advanced search method I can find the articles and websites:
By changing the language and region I make sure all the results are in fact from France. By selecting “past 24 hours” I also know I am getting the latest news. I then click “Advanced Search”
Voila, the results are french media websites, and by clicking “Translate this page” the website will be translated into English. The website can be translated into many languages supported by google.
Final Thoughts about the course
It is important to give credit where credit is due. Google Powersearch is a great course for people wanting to learn more about how to use their powerful search engine. The lessons are roughly 5 minutes long and is split into segments to make it easier and more structured. After each lesson you are given activities related to the lesson, to help you understand what you just watched and to try it for yourself.
This course is especially helpful for people not used to the internet. To help understand how powerful it can be and how easy it really is, even for beginners.
In January I wrote an article on the filter bubble and how we are fed information and opinions we want to see. If you find this article interesting, I suggest checking that one out as well.