2 Free Digital Tools To Take Your Google Searches Further
Google's great. These features will make it even better!
Boo 👻.. lean,
Today we are going to talk about using Boolean search and time-based parameters to take your Google searches to the next level.
But first, Happy December! Raise your hand if your excited for the holidays 🙌 😇 🥃
As always, if you would take a moment to share Free Digital Tools with a few friends, I’d be ever so thankful!
Tool type: it’s less a tool than a concept (but it’s applicable in Google Search and beyond)
Let’s say you are looking for a place to eat. It needs to serve both pizza and soup.
When I search “restaurant pizza soup” on Google, I get recipes for Pizza Soup. (Can’t decide if that sounds amazing or horrifying - what do you think?)
In fact, the entire first page of Google is nothing but recipes for Pizza Soup.
BUT, if I type in “restaurant AND pizza AND soup,” well now I’ve utilized Boolean search.
Boolean search uses “AND,” “OR, and “'-” to further hone in your searches.
So I added “AND” (note: it must be capitalized or it won’t work) to our search and… voila! Google spit out a bunch of restaurants that presumably have both pizza AND soup on the menu.
Now let’s say I want pizza or pasta. If I search “restaurant pizza pasta” I’m going to get results for restaurants that serve both. But I’m not picky — I’m just really craving some cheese, carbs and marinara. Pizza OR pasta will do.
So I head back to Google and search “restaurant AND pizza OR pasta”.
Now I’m going to get results for restaurants that have one OR the other.
And to clarify: I didn’t need the first part (restaurant AND). I was just trying to avoid recipes and stick to restaurants.
Now let’s say I want a pasta place that does NOT serve pizza. (Why?! Because I can! 💪).
Now I’m going to search “restaurant AND pasta -pizza”.
That “-” will remove any results with the word pizza in it.
While these examples might sound kind of silly, I really do use Boolean all the time. If I want to find an article about something that does or doesn’t mention a specific concept, I have Boolean there to help.
And Boolean works in spots beyond Google. Back before Elon and Twitter locked away Tweetdeck behind a paywall, I used to employ Boolean search there. I would build searches for campaigns that showed any mention of a candidate (or opponent) by “full name OR handle OR nickname”. Or I would keep searches running for “Wisconsin AND politics”. It was super handy (until Elon destroyed it!).
Along with working on Google and other search engines, you can also use it on Amazon, some social platforms, some real estate listing sites, some job sites and even in your own inbox! That’s right, both Gmail and Outlook utilize Boolean search to help you more efficiently navigate your inbox!
FREE or FREEmium: FREE
Just add “AND,” “OR, and “'-” to future Google searches and beyond, and enjoy!
Tool type: This too is hidden in plain sight right there in Google Search
If you already know this one, gold star for you 🌟. Feel free to skip ahead to the next section. (But don’t archive this email just yet. Today’s email has some bonus tools snuck into the end.)
If you don’t know it, this will feel like you are getting a superpower.
Run your Google search. Then on the right, click “Tools.”
A dropdown menu will pop-up on the top right of the screen. It’s labeled “Any time.”
Click it and suddenly, instead of searching all of Google, you can search within a specific time frame.
You can limit your search to just content from the past hour, day, week, month or year. OR you can get more granular and select any timeframe you want.
Let’s say Republicans elect a new Speaker of the House. You want to read about him, but when you search his name, 100% of what you find is brand-new content. You want to know where the heck this guy was BEFORE a few weeks ago.
Google will literally be useless for you. Until you click Tools > Any time > Custom range… and now you can pick literally any timeframe to search within.
Note: you can add in a “From” and a “To” OR you can just do one of the other. So you can literally tell Google to search all time UNTIL August 1st, 2023.
This is a super helpful tool to get more tailored searches on Google.
FREE or FREEmium: FREE
This search parameter function works on desktop. On mobile, you can do all of the above EXCEPT “custom range.” So you can still search the past hour, day, week, month or year. But you can’t search up to a set date or within a specific time frame. Not sure why, but it’s been like that as long as I’ve been using this tool.
I hope these two tools help take your search to the next level.
As promised, I wanted to share two more things Google can do. Both are too small to warrant their own sections, but I love them both.
And I showed them both to a friend recently and their eyes bulged. So figured I’d share them here in my closing (right after asking you to please help promote this humble little newsletter with your networks!).
Okay, the first one: Google can do math for you right in the search bar. If you type in 15x2546 or 324346/1234 or any other simple math problem, it won’t search. It’ll just solve the problem.
The second one: you can ask how many days until (or since) a set date. If you ask how many days until Christmas, or how many days has it been since last Christmas, Google will tell you. You can also ask how many days until November 5th, 2024 and it will tell you exactly, no counting on your fingers required.
As someone who works in politics, I use that feature all the time. Instead of counting days on the calendar, I just ask Google how many days until Election Day and I’m ready to create my graphic or write my email. I love that feature. Hope you will too!!
Happy December. See you in a fortnight!