Google is the gateway to all the internet has to offer, for about 75% of all searchers, but it can only find what you tell it to find. If you don’t ask Google the right question, you aren’t going to get the answer you need. If you often find yourself wondering why you can’t find something online that you know exists, then your Google Search skills may be letting you down. Caregivers, home care aides and loved ones can use these seven tips to improve their Google search results and find anything the web has to offer.

A septuagenarian we know has intermediate-level computer skills. She can email, Facebook, and shop – and she’s great at browsing. But she often asks her daughter for help when she’s looking for something very specific, and often a little obscure. Google is the world’s dominant search engine, but Google isn’t psychic, yet! So she can easily find the cleaning spray she’s been using for 40 years in its current version, but not the old-school ‘flavor’ that is still out there. The good news is that Google is very straightforward, so you don’t have to wonder how Google thinks – you just need to ‘speak Google’. Here are the seven specific ways to search for whatever you need to find in the infinite internet:

  • Tip #1 – This Specific Phrase: if you’re looking for dog food, and you know you don’t want any other kind of food, search for “dog food” – just like that, with the quotes. If you leave out the quotes, then you’ll get results for both words together as well as You don’t need the umpteen million results for the word food, do you?
  • Tip #2 – This But Not That: You can exclude words that are related to your search but are not the topic you’re interested in. Let’s say you feed your dog wet food, raw food, or dehydrated food, but never kibble. You can search for dog food -kibble and Google will leave out results for kibble.
  • Tip #3 – This Or That: If harmony reigns in your home, and you have both a dog and a cat, then you can shop for their food at the same time. Search for dog OR cat food, and you will get results for one or the other. The OR must be all caps.
  • Tip #4 – All These Words: if your dog has some food allergies, and you want to find a dog food whose recipe has turkey, potatoes and carrots, then you can search this way: allintext:dog food turkey potato carrot. Just like that – no space between the colon and the words on either side.
  • Tip #5 – These Words In The Title: if you want to find a web page whose title includes certain words, in any order, then search this way: allintitle:dog food. Then no matter how those words are used, you’ll get a list of web pages whose title includes them.
  • Tip #6 – These Words In The URL: Same as above, for the url, which is the http://www.websitename.com Search for allinurl:dog food. This helps find the sites that didn’t grab dogfood.com in the early days of the internet, and are stuck with website names like thefoodofthedogsource.net.
  • Tip #7 – The Right Word Is On The Tip of My Tongue!: you know there’s something available for dogs that isn’t a full-on food, but isn’t exactly a treat, and you can’t remember the name. You can search for synonyms or even similar words along with your original search goal. Search for “dog food” ~topper and you will get results for dog food, and the toppers, gravies, mix-ins, and flavor supplements available.
  • Bonus tip – your browser has both a search bar and an address bar, and once, you had to keep your searches and your urls separate. Today, the browser can tell the difference between http://www.websitename.com and Website Name when you type it into either space. But here’s bonus tip that some users might not know – if you type petsmart.com into the address bar, you will go directly to the PetSmart website. If you type www.petsmart.com into the search bar, you will get a list of 17,900,000 search results. If you type Petsmart into either space, you will get a list of search results. If you’re in a hurry and you know for sure you just want to go to www.petsmart.com, start using the address bar and the exact website name.

Good luck, and happy searching!

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