Google Search Commands: Secret Shortcuts for Searching the Web’s Resources

Google search engine

Google can be used for much more than just keyword searches.  Google can function as an address search tool, a telephone book, a package tracker, and more.  Savvy private investigators use Google during investigations to find information about people, places, and things. In some situations, cases can be solved with a well-planned and well-executed series of search engine queries.

While this article focuses on using Google, we recommend using multiple search engines such a 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’re looking for.

The following Search Commands allow you to enter various of parameters directly into the Google Search Box to conduct certain types of searches.

US Street Address and Phone Number Search

Use the following procedure to search US street address 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 United States residence, type any of the following combinations into the search box:

  • first name (or first initial), last name, city (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

This particular tool will save you a significant amount of time as it can be used via the web on  a personal computer or laptop, or via the app on a mobile device.

United States Business Information
To find listings for a U.S. business, type the business name into the Google search box, along with the city and state. Or type the business name and zip code. Entering the phone number with area code will also return a complete business listing.

Search 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 find out where
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 lookup packages that were shipped FedEx tracking numbers. Just enter the tracking code in the field in the format 999999999999. And as expected, you can also look up United States Postal Service tracking numbers to find packages. Use the number format 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 99.

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.

Universal Product Codes (UPC)
example search: “073333531084”

Telephone area codes
Use the following to do an area code search:

  • example search: “650”

Patent numbers

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

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


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