Search Better with Google Search Commands

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Google Search Commands
The iconic Google logo.

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, VIN lookup and more. This article provides an overview of some of the key Google search commands you can use to search more efficiently

List of Google Search Commands and Shortcuts

Many private investigators offer missing person 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. Simple people locates can sometimes be completed 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 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 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

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.

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 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

Other Shortcuts

  • 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 the 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 it 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.
  • There is a helpful trick that will allow you to bypass some paywalls, circumvent blocked sites, and download files by running the site through Google Translate or Google Mobilizer. To do so, replace example.com with the site URL at the end of https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&u=https://example.com/following (https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&u=https://example.com/
  • 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:(allows you to limit the search to a specific file type) for example, filtype:doc
  • 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 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 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 search commands, please post a comment below.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.

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