As you start researching for that big article you need to write for your favorite client, what is your first step? If you are anything like me, it is probably clicking on that Google search bar. As web content providers, we rely on the internet to help us find background information for the work we do on a daily basis. However, searching for specific information on Google does not have to be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Following these tips will help you find the best information for your next big writing project.
Search Only Certain Types of Sites
As a writer, you come across clients with many different requirements for research. One common request I have come across is clients who want research only from credible resources. In many cases, this is something published on a .edu or .org website. You can get search results that only include information from a particular domain by prefacing your search terms with “site:edu” (or whichever site type you are looking at). For instance, “site:edu German Measles” will search for information about German Measles, but only on websites that have a .edu domain.
Search Broken or Blocked Sites
Have you ever started researching on a library computer or perhaps your work computer and found that the information you need is located on a blocked website? Luckily, there is a solution. Copy the web address of the site you want to visit using control-V (command-V for Mac users), then search Google for this: “cache:blockedwebsite.com” substituting the web address of the site you want to visit, of course. This will give you Google’s cache of the website. Additionally, this works for websites that are temporarily down or broken. It is a great way to access important research information you may have not otherwise been able to view.
Find Related Terms
One of the hardest things to do is to search for something that is extremely obscure. You can search for related terms on Google by searching with a tilde (~) before the term you are researching. For instance, say you are researching the poetic form of a Clerihew. While ideally you would like information about this particular form, you may need to add the tilde to get enough results to write a full article.
Google for Conversions
If you are writing about recipes or projects, you may need to provide measurements. Do you remember how many tablespoons make a cup, or do you know how to transfer a liter measurement to quarts? Lukily, Google does! Type in “tablespoons to cups” or “Fahrenheit to Celsius” or whatever type of conversion you need to do, and a calculator will appear that does all the hard work for you.
Reverse Image Search
Did you find a cool picture on Facebook that you would like to use for your blog? You probably want to find the original photo’s owner, to ask permission. This is where Google’s Reverse Image Search comes in handy. This tool allows you to upload a picture from your computer or link to one from the web and it will help you find all the places it is located online—making it easier for you to find the real owner.
As you can see, there are many ways you can make Google work for you. Spend some time testing out the site and you may find even more ways that you can better utilize the search giant in your day to day research—and for fun too!
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.