Lawyers are in the information finding, processing and presenting business. While most lawyers know how to conduct a basic Google search, many are unaware of useful Google features and tools that can provide them with a competitive edge.
Refining your Google searches
The information accessible by Google is so vast that advanced filters are very useful in narrowing search results to a relevant, manageable volume.
Filter by date (desktop). With the desktop version of Google, you can restrict your search to a specified time period. To do this on the PC versions simply run the search. When you get the results page, click on the “Tools” link on the top of the page to the right. A link for “Any time” will appear. Click on that link and you will be presented time restriction options
If one of the choices presented is not what you want, choose “Custom range” and set your custom date restrictions.
Filter by date (iPad/iPhone). For iPad/iPhone users the date search capability is not available using the Google mobile app but there is a work-around. Use the Safari or Chrome browser and type in “Google” in the search bar. The Google search bar will appear. Type your search. When you get the results page, Click on the “Tools” link on the top of the page to the right. A link for “Any time” will appear. Click on that link and you will be presented time restriction options. Note that for some mysterious reason the custom date option is not available on mobile devices.
Advanced term searches – On the desktop versions of Google, advanced text filters templates are available to make your google searches more precise. To access them simply run a search. When you get the results page, click on the “Settings” link on the top of the page to the right. Choose “advanced search”.
You will then be presented a search template to fine tune your search.
You can also do advanced searches on desktop and mobile devices as follows:
- Exact phrase searches – put the phrase in quotation marks. The search will be limited to the terms used in the order they are listed in the quotation marks.
- Exclude search results including certain terms by using the minus symbol before the word to be excluded. For example the search “Star Trek”–Shatner”, will provide only those Star Trek search results not including the term Shatner.
- Search for unknown words using an asterisk, e.g., “Bridge over * waters”
- Word proximity search– use the search limiter AROUND(#)- e.g., “Gorsuch AROUND(5) confirmation” – this search will come back with results where the two terms are within five words of each other.
- To require certain terms in the result connect them with the search parameter “AND” (all caps required)
- Search for “either-or” terms use the search parameter “OR” (all caps required) between the terms
- To include results with similar terms use the “~” symbol, e.g., “~medical directive” will return search results for “advance medical directive,” “advance healthcare directive,” and “advance directive.”
- To search for comparisons between two things connect them with “VS” e.g., “beer VS wine”
- To limit search to a particular website use the search parameter SITE: e.g., “SITE:www.hytechlawyer.com and tips”
- Limit search to file types. If you want to limit your search to a certain file type such as PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, etc., use the search parameter “FILETYPE:insert file type extension”, e.g., to search for Star Trek PowerPoint presentations, “FILETYPE:pptx “Star Trek””
In addition to the search filters discussed, there are a myriad of other google tools and applications. Here are three of my favorites:
Check your flight status– You can check the status of your flight by typing “flight ### airline” in the Google search bar, e.g. “flight 879 American Airways”
Set Google Alerts– Your own free internet news clipping service. Get email alerts whenever (or at set intervals) something of interest to you shows up on the web. A great way to monitor clients, adversaries and areas of law. Easy to set. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts
Google Translate– Present day equivalent of the “Universal Translator” of Star Trek fame. Simply download the free application to your mobile device (iOS and Android), and you are ready to speak and understand one of 102 major languages. You say what you want to communicate in English (or another language) and Google Translate translates it into the language of your, both audibly and in writing. The app is a bit literal and misses nuances but is generally accurate. There is also an online desktop version that also allows you to translate (very literally) text to and from the world’s major languages. I have used this in my law practice for rudimentary document translation- simply cut and paste, and voila a literal translation is yours. http://translate.google.com
We hope you find these Google tips and tricks to be useful. Please comment if you have a favorite Google tool or trick to share that is not included.