How much time do you spend searching on the web? If it takes several rounds of typing in search terms to get the desired results, that’s way too long. Let’s cover some easy ways you can search more efficiently in Google. And, in honor of the recent end of the iconic show, let’s do some Mad Men searching.
Everything you type into Google is a question, even if you don’t phrase it that way. Google will ignore words like “where” “why” “and” and “when”, so instead of typing what are the names of all the women Don Draper has hooked up with?, you can type in something as simple as Don Draper hookups and Google will return you the same search results. Fewer words to type, less time wasted. More time to watch what it was like to live in an era in which it was acceptable to be sloshed in your afternoon meetings.
Finding on the Page
A trick that you may have learned in MS Word is to hit the “Control” key and the “F” key to open up a search box to find a word anywhere in your document. You can use this in web browsers, too. If you opened a page that has a ton of content and you can’t find the search term you wanted to learn more about, the on-page search function is an easy way to find it. Just hit Control + F to open the browser search box, type in the term you originally searched and Google will highlight the item on the page.
Using an Asterisk
If you’re not sure about all of the words in a certain phrase, you can use the asterisk (*) to sort of fill in the blank. Google calls this a “wildcard” and finds every word that could plausibly fit in where the asterisk is.
Burt Cooper was always spouting witticisms, so you might remember a part of his quote, but not all of it. That’s when you’ll add the asterisk for a word or words you don’t know.
Additional Search Operators
• Use a hyphen (-) to eliminate a word that you don’t want to appear with your search results
• Use quotation marks (” “) to search a phrase in the exact order you type it
Tip: Using the plus sign (+) to specify that the search term must appear in the results is an outdated search method. Google eliminated this in 2011, most likely to make way for Google+.
Searching by Date
I’m a big fan of searching by date. Let’s say you’ve just started watching (or rewatching) the show and you want to go back and read recaps from when the episodes originally aired. To find a recap of the very first episode, you’ll use the date search function to narrow it down to the day the episode premiered (July 19, 2007). Google will then give you results that were published on that date, or a few days if you chose a range. Here’s how to do it:
1. Search your keyword (ex: mad men recap)
2. Click on the “Advanced Search” tab on the far right, under the search bar
3. Click on the “Any Time” tab to open a drop down menu
4. Select any of the given options, or select “Custom Range” to put in your own dates.
Searching within a Site
Let’s say you saw the review of Mad Men by the New York Times in the search results when you were searching for the recap. Now you want to read everything The New York Times ever published on Mad Men. You don’t have to leave Google to do this, you can do an “in site” search of a specific website. You’ll need to enter your keyword (Mad Men) the word “site” and a colon (:) and the website you want to search (nytimes.com), so it will look like “mad men site:nytimes.com”. Google will pull up every time the NYT wrote a story about or even mentioned those libidinous ad men (and women).
You can use the date range method from above to only find New York Times articles about Mad Men written between 2007 and 2008. See how specific you can get?
Searching within a Domain
Want to know what all of academia thinks of Mad Men? You can use the same method as above, but instead of searching an entire site, just search the domain “mad men site:.edu”.
Tip: Make sure there’s no space after the colon or the site and domain searches won’t work.
Google Knowledge Graph
The Google Knowledge Graph displays information right in the search results, so you don’t have to navigate away from Google. It’s a one-click stop to a variety of information, you just have to know what to look for. (Sadly, none pertain to Mad Men.)
Cooking measurement conversions
Search On, Searchers
With these tips, you can become even more efficient at searching. My hope is that you find what you’re looking for on your first try, so you can quickly get back to doing important work. Like yelling at Netflix when it asks “are you still watching?”