Secret Shortcuts for Searching the Web’s Resources
According to Internet Live Statistics, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. However, most people don’t realize that Google can be used for much more than simple keyword queries to look up information. Google can function as an address search tool, a telephone book, a package tracker, a VIN number lookup, and more. This article provides an overview of some of the key Google search commands you can use to search more efficiently. Also, in the world of Open Source Intelligence, these special commands are becoming increasingly known as Google Dorks.
List of Google Search Commands, Shortcuts, and Dorks
Many private investigators offer missing persons locate services to their clients. Investigators use a variety of methods to find a person, such as paid database searches, scouring social network accounts, phone calls to relatives, friends, and associates, and search engine queries. In some cases, a missing person case can be solved with a well-planned and well-executed series of search engine queries.
The following Search Commands allow you to enter various parameters directly into the Google Search Box to conduct certain types of searches.
U.S. Street Address and Phone Number Search
Use the following procedure to find U.S. street addresses and phone numbers. You’ll see publicly listed phone numbers and addresses at the top of results pages for searches that contain specific kinds of keywords. To find listings for a residence, type any of the following combinations into the search box:
- first name (or first initial), last name, city (the state is optional)
- first name (or first initial), last name, state
- first name (or first initial), last name, area code
- first name (or first initial), last name, zip code
- phone number, including area code
- last name, city, state
- last name, zip code
Review the results to determine if the person you are seeking is included. Since many names are similar, you may need to review the details and sort by geographic area, gender, age, and other factors.
This particular shortcut will save you a significant amount of time as it can be used to search the web on a personal computer or laptop, or via the search app on a mobile device.
Look up Business Information
To find listings for a business, type the following into the Google search box:
- Business name, city, and state
- Business name, zip code
- Business name, phone number (with area code)
Review the results to determine if the particular business is listed.
Search Package Tracking Numbers for UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service
Whether you’re a private detective or not, this capability will come in handy. Quickly track a package that was shipped via United Postal Service, directly from the search page. Just enter the tracking number and press enter: 1Z9999W999999999.
Similarly, you can also look up packages that were shipped with FedEx tracking numbers. Just enter the tracking code in the field in the format 999999999999. And as expected, you can also look up the United States Postal Service (USPS) tracking numbers to find packages. Use the number format 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 99.
Learn more about how to track a package.
Vehicle ID (VIN) numbers
To search for a vehicle identification number, most commonly known as a VIN number, simply enter the number into the search field in the format AAAAA999A9AA99999.
Learn more about VIN numbers.
Universal Product Codes (UPC)
For example, to search for a UPC code, enter the number 073333531084 in the Google search box.
Telephone area codes
Use the following to do an area code search:
- example search: “650”
To look up a patent, just enter the word “patent” and the number.
- example search: “patent 5123123”
- Remember to put the word “patent” before your patent number
FAA airplane registration numbers
Use the following command to search for FAA airplane registration numbers:
- example search: “n199ua”
- An airplane’s FAA registration number is typically printed on its tail
FCC equipment IDs
Use this helpful search command to look up FCC equipment ID numbers:
- An example search: “fcc B4Z-34009-PIR”
- Remember to put the word “fcc” before the equipment ID
- Hit enter or click the search icon
Other Google Search Commands and Shortcuts
- inurl: followed by a particular string of characters returns results with that specific sequence of characters in the URL. For example, inurl:amazon would return any website that has the word Amazon in the URL. This is useful if you need to locate all of the websites, social media accounts, etc. that a company is using. In the above example, you’ll get Amazon’s main website, plus Twitter, Facebook, and other websites.
- intext: followed by a word or phrase returns files with the word or phrase anywhere in the text.
- Search for a specific phrase: Put your search query in quotations to search for an exact phrase. For example, “private investigator events in California”. Google will search for specific words in this specific order. A standard search without the quotes will look for pages that contain those keywords anywhere within the page, which result in far more result to sift through.
- If you need to search the content of a particular website, and that site either doesn’t have a search feature, or isn’t that good, use the site: feature. To use this feature, enter site:websitename.com and then follow that with your keywords. For example, site:einvestigator.com licensing.
- info: (find information about a page about a website or particular page) for example, info:www.einvestigator.com
- Find the definition of a word: Type definition:word in the search field. In most cases, the definition will be included in the search results and you won’t be required to click through to a particular website to read the definition.
- filetype: This command allows you to limit the search to a specific file type such as DOC, PDF, XLS, TXT, and more. For example, filtype:doc will return only Word documents in the search results.
- private investigator: searches for the words private and investigator.
- private or investigator: looks for the word private or the word investigator
Use Multiple Engines
While this article focuses on Google’s secret search commands, we recommend using multiple search engines such as Bing and Yahoo to get access to a variety of results. Due to the differences in search algorithms between engines, the ranking of the results will vary. This may actually be helpful to a private detective as it will expose you to different websites that may contain the answer you need.
Additional Search Tools
- Google Advanced Search Page – The advanced search page gives you more control over the search results you see. The advanced search page allows you to write search queries and filter the data to ensure the most relevant search results possible.
- Google Search Operators – Add these symbols or words to your search terms in the Google search box to gain more control over the results that you see
If you have any questions about this article or any of the Google Dorks and advanced search commands, please post a comment below.