Whelp, thanks to our fearless editor, it’s Google day. Here’s another in that line of topical opining:
The Interweb has become a cornucopia of websites, apps, blogs, Wikis and other things you pray your seven-year-old daughter never accidentally falls upon while typing “Barbie.” (A horrifying true story that has placed me on a nationwide manhunt. Oy vey!)
Anywho, while listicles on searching abound for geeks, dweebs, nerds, dorks, Trekkies and other people who adore “The Big Bang Theory” (me included), few of those search tip lists benefit the flack.
Sure, we try to click on images for “reverse search,” get a wildcard suggestion through Autocomplete (always a good party trick) or even use Google as a dictionary by typing “define: ANY WORD” (yeah, yeah, I’m the only one you AP lovers out there), but what search tips can actually benefit the PR profession other than rudimentary research?
Here are five, just for you flacks. Enjoy:
1. Site-Specific Search Through Websites. Some websites do not have a site map, and those that go beyond tertiary navigation, I’m talking to you. It’s the bane of any flack’s existence to have to rubberneck dozens of pages on website when the search use blows and you can’t find a thing. So, try this: “site: PRNewser.com” and then your query. That will create site specific queries that will focus on that website despite its woeful aids for the user. You can even go to your search bar, type “website.com” + tab, and then the query.
2. Find Alternatives, Even if You Don’t Know Anything. Many people fight through pop-ups on Consumer Reports or even PRNews for comparisons. Now that it’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year, you will surely go shopping through compare lists for your favorite items. Google can do that too. Let’s say you don’t want to fight the dolts at the “big box” store who know absolutely nothing about big screen TVs other than read the price tag emblazoned in size 96 font. Go to your search and type your brand and “vs” (as in, versus). Just leave it blank and watch Autocomplete do the rest. Nice shortcut. Do that for all sorts of queries in terms of CSR, crisis communications case studies, best firms in town and so on.
3. Bypassing Blocked Sites or Paywalls. How many times has a client called you with something they heard from someone who called about something they saw. Agonizing, right? Then, you go to searching and because too many trolls work with you in the cube farm, you are attacked with “404 Errors”, “This page can’t be displayed”, a paywall at your local paper or even Google image search of someone giving you the one-finger salute. Use Google as a proxy. More specifically, Google Modules (my fave) or Google Translate (yes, as in “What the hell did he say to me in Spanish?)
- For Modules, go straight to the search to get this in your cache: http://www.gmodules.com/ig/proxy?url= then the URL. That’s it. No spaces. Enjoy.
- For Translate, add the URL you want to visit to the end of the Google URL under “translate” in your search bar.
4. Use the Tilde. Yes, that little squiggly line to the left of No. 1. That and your term will help Google to find you related terms, like “~PR.” Tired of looking up “PR,” “public relations,” and “public + relations” to find something about your agency for posterity sake? Using the Tilde will help you find anything in the Googleverse related to whatever you need.
5. Date Ranges. For your agency research aficionado, this is a lifesaver. Looking for your client past reviews, clips or mentions online can be such a hassle, namely if that client is not the client yet and you are doing a brand audit. You want to impress. You want to win the account. But you can’t find bupkus. Go to search and type “YOUR BRAND” and the dates. Let’s say, McDonald’s 2001 to 2013. That pesky preposition doesn’t work and the dash sucks even more. Use two dots, not an ellipsis of three, TWO. Do that and you get this. Or, if you want to challenge someone around the water cooler for music trivia, try “best singles 1980..2000” and take that know-it-all to task.
BONUS: Go to Google and type “Do a Barrel Roll“. That’s it. Hit enter and enjoy. Why? Because it’s Thursday and if your IT dude doesn’t know better, it’ll screw with his mind.