Becoming a Professional Googler
When I took Organic Chemistry and other science courses in university, I quickly realized the value of referencing information from Google. There’s an ocean of available knowledge, direction and explanations on Stack Exchange, Yahoo Answers, Quora and other forums and blogs. As a developer, I’m now googling 10x as much to reference documentation, find an npm package or look for answers to a bug (I highly recommend Vimium to use vim shortcuts for fast navigation in your browser!).
Learning the ‘syntax’ of refining a web search can be critical to find what you’re looking for. I tell the students I mentor that learning to be a good researcher and referencing answers is so much more important than memorizing syntax or specific values.
Google Search Operators
Make sure you don’t put a space between your operator and the search value. Also, word order matters. The first word ranks higher than the second. You should use nouns to avoid stop words. Using too few words can yield crummy results, and the search input will accept up to 32 words.
- Find an exact match: use quotes around a word or phrase.
- Specific site: use
site:in front of a domain or .tld.
react site:github.com` or `site:.edu calculus
#in front of a word.
- Exclude specific words: put
-in front of a phrase you don’t want.
- Wildcards or unknown words: use a
*inside a word or phrase as a placeholder.
Google uses automatic word stemming. When you search
code, Google also searches
- Range of numbers: enter
..between two numbers. Also, using
$will search prices.
- Combine searches: use
|between each search query.
colors site:github.com` OR `site:npmjs.org
AND isn’t necessary, since “and” is assumed in a string of words.
- Related sites: put
related:before a domain.
- Define a word: simply use
define:before your word.
Most of the time Google will offer a word definition for single word searches.
- Filetypes: use
filetype:before a preferred file extension.
tax form filetype:pdf
- View the cached snapshot of a site: Use
cache:before the site address. This is mostly useful if a site goes down.
You should still use archive.org to see various snapshots over time.
Other Search Operators
- Search terms in titles, text, urls with
- This is distinct from
intitlewhich search for a specific phrase in the title.
Writing in Sand or in Stone?
Traditional education would have you remember every single nuance and hoard endless notes for every possible subject (oops, see my public notes).
But we don’t really have to take notes on everything, because it’s all been written for us online! I can really appreciate how web development has embraced this paradigm. The ability to reference information from documentation and Google searches is more valuable.