Making Your Web Searches Smarter
By Michael Masterson
Recently, The Wall Street Journal
ran an article about "hidden features of Google and Yahoo engines" that
make research on the Web faster, easier, and more rewarding.
Neanderthal though I am with regard to technology, I was actually aware
of several of them:
Using two or three words instead of one to get more relevant links
your search terms with quotation marks when you are looking for an
exact name or phrase (such as "To Kill a Mockingbird")
Combining quotes with extra words ("Kill a Mocking Bird" and Harper Lee)
And here are some things I didn’t know:
can enhance searches in Google by telling the search engine to exclude
items that might confuse or overwhelm the search. This is accomplished
by following your search terms with a space and then a minus sign
followed by the topic you want to exclude. (For example, if you want
information about Jiu Jitsu but not Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you can enter:
Jiu Jitsu – Brazilian.)
You can get the name and address of a land-phone owner by typing in the phone number.
You can get a map of any location by typing the street address in Google’s search field.
You can solve simple math problems by typing them in.
can perform conversions of weights, measures, and currencies. (In
Yahoo, begin such searches with the word "convert." In Google, just
type in the question.)
I asked members of our own team here at ETR for online research tricks they have discovered. Here’s what they had to offer:
, ETR’s health guru, says that his favorite search strategy is to use Google "news alerts."
say there is a topic you are following where it would be beneficial to
receive an alert every time there is a new article or new research
published on that subject. Or maybe you just want to keep track of
things that are written about you and your company.
the Google main page, select "News." Then select "News Alerts" from the
menu on the left side of your screen. All you have to do is enter the
search term you want to watch, select how often you would like to be
notified, and enter your e-mail address.
every time there is some new information posted online that includes
the search term you listed, you will receive an e-mail notification.
, ETR’s Managing Editor, likes the Google Book Search feature.
say you need to find information about goal setting. You type the term
into the search field, and Google finds all the books in its database
that mention "goal setting." Choose among those titles by narrowing
down your search (by number of hits or by adding additional terms).
Google Book Search also allows you to look through individual books for
references to "goal setting," and gives you the chance to read two or
three consecutive pages surrounding the term.
can get to Google Book Search from the Google home page. Just click on
"more" at the top right of the search field. You’ll be transferred to a
list of Google functions. "Book Search" is currently fourth on the list.
, our resident wealth expert, likes Yahoo! Finance for updated stock information.
Whenever you need financial information on a specific company, go to Yahoo.com
and click on the "Finance" link. Once there, you can type in a
company’s symbol and find out everything from their balance sheet to
their company profile to the latest headlines featuring news about
them. Type in "Nke," for example, and in a few moments you’ll know that
shares are up 0.32% so far that day, that the company had a net income
of $456,700 in the third quarter (the last quarter reported) of last
year (the" Income Statement" link), and that Nike stock costs $74.81
more today than it did 15 years ago (the "Historical Prices" link).
the way, Andrew’s favorite link is "Key Statistics." You get 55
different numbers, including price to earnings (both trailing and
forward), price to book, operating margin, return on equity, and cash
ETR’s Editorial Director, Charlie Byrne
, says his favorite "trick" is to try to find the most unique word or phrase related to what he’s searching for.
"Many times for Early to Rise
," Charlie says, "I have to locate newspaper or magazine articles for
which we only have a vague reference. Example: ‘Charlie … remember
that story in Forbes
about those guys with the widget company? Do you think you can find it?’
this case, I might be lucky to remember that they were located in, say,
Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. So if I search for ‘Tyngsboro’ and ‘widgets,’
chances are very good that I’ll find the article.
another example: If you want to find stories about great thoroughbred
horses, ‘Alydar’ would be a better choice for a search word than
‘Affirmed,’ simply because it’s so unique.
"Unusual proper names are always good to try."
these tips in mind the next time you’re doing an Internet search. I
guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for much more quickly.