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Search the Web for Insider Business Information

You might want to search the web and social media for trends and information about similar products, services, and businesses; as well as search out your competition. Here are some inside tricks of the web search gurus.

Here is an example of a business website that first went online in 1996. The owner learned early about the wealth of knowledge that can be found by performing in-depth searches. Finding esoteric information online became a passion for this person. She uses the information in her business and when researching for the books she writes.

An early business website, circa 1996.
An early business website, circa 1996.

If you are in a pinch and don’t remember the search operators described in this section, go to Google’s Advanced Search page. From that page, you can include and exclude words and phrases and even find free images to use.

Explicit phrases

You want to search for a phrase, not the single words. But Google wants to give you every result of each word in the same web page. You can imagine a search like that could possibly come up with millions of results. When searching the web for a name or phrase that has more than one word, be explicit; try the following tricks to refine your search:

  • Use AND or +. When combining words, use AND (all uppercase) or the + character. Do not include a space after the + character. For example,

    marsha AND collier
    marsha +collier
  • Enclose the phrase in quotation marks. When you place your search terms within quotes, the search engine retrieves results with those words, exactly in the order you wrote them. For example,

“marsha collier”

Excluding words

To exclude a word in a search phrase, use – (the minus sign). Suppose you and several other people or businesses have the same or a similar name, such as Brownes Coffee Shop and Brownes Coffee & Tea Shop. If you use the minus sign before the word you want to exclude from the results, you optimize your results; note, however, that you do not add a space after the minus sign. For example:

brownes coffee shop -tea
“brownes coffee” -tea

Unique spelling

If you want to search for a word or name with a unique spelling, like Stanly’s Restaurant, Google changes your search to the more common spelling, Stanley’s Restaurant. Google attempts to read your mind and guess your intent by correcting your spelling. Use Google’s verbatim tool to get the results want. Should your search be for a name or word with a unique spelling, do the following:

  1. On the left side of a Google search results page, click Show Search Tools.

  2. In the resulting list, click Verbatim.

  3. In the search box, type your search terms, and then click the magnifying glass icon.

Site search

If you’d like to find results in a certain website, you use the word site, a colon (:), and the search word or phrase. Note that there is no space before or after the colon. For example, if you wanted to search for an author's name on the Yelp review site, you would type

site:yelp.com "marsha collier" 

Show search tools

On the left side of a Google search page, you see a category list: Web, Images, Maps, Videos, News, Shopping, Books, and More (clicking More displays more categories). Below that list you might see name of the city you are in, and an option to change the location (in the case of a location search). At the very bottom of these links is a Show Search Tools link. Clicking this link displays the menu shown in the figure so you can select the timeframe in which you’d like to search.

The Show Search Tools link displays many handy variables for this 24-hour search.
The Show Search Tools link displays many handy variables for this 24-hour search.
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