Have you ever shared information with your friends and on several occasions received the reply, “Where do you find this stuff?” Usually, that is an indicator that some of your friends could learn a little more about how to use a search engine to get what they want. A search engine is a very useful information research tool and can be a valuable asset if you and your friends know the all the tricks to using one. Actually, these are not really “tricks” but features built into a search engine either implicitly or as a result of the design. Let’s look at a few of these search engine tricks further and you can begin impressing your friends today:

What other websites are like the one you enjoy so much? You found this great website with helpful tips about some niche topic and you would like to find other websites with additional but related information. All you have to do is go to Google and type: related: and it will list websites similar to the one you found.

Using search engine tricks to find out whom you are dealing with. A search engine is actually a way to protect yourself if you have a lot of business dealings on the internet. Even if you are on the dating scene, you can do an internet search by just typing in the person’s or company’s name followed by the word “scam” or “offender.” This is also a great way to find that old friend from years back–simply type in their name.

Who is using my material? If you write web content or publish other work on the internet, you can figure out if your work is getting plagiarized or where it is published by just pasting the article in the search engine query window. Yes, paste the entire article but enclose it within quotes. On Google, all matched text shows up as bold in the results page. If the entire description is bold, there is a good chance your content was copied if you never posted to that site.

I need information that is very detailed and in-depth. What if you are doing research and need more detail then what is provided on most web pages? What if you are looking for free e-books and tutorials on some topic? Oftentimes, you want to look past introductory or landing web pages and find the detailed documents in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format. Most e-books are written in Adobe PDF. One search engine trick you can impress your friends with is finding only results where the documents are these file types. You can do it by typing the key phrase in the search query window and following it with the filetype: parameter. For example, if you want to find e-books in PDF format related to search engine optimization or SEO you would type: SEO filetype:pdf. Other filetypes include “doc” for Microsoft Word documents and “ppt” for Microsoft Powerpoint documents.

I need academic-style information. Sometimes you need highly-researched information that is found in university publications. A search engine trick to limit search results to only this type of publication is to type in the key phrase followed by site:edu. For example, let’s say you are doing a research project on database design. You can go to Google and type in: Database design site:edu and only publications from academic websites are returned.

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