Information is the fuel of business in this post-modern world and business owners are learning to depend more and more on Google’s extensive search tools to help them find the information they need. However, if you don’t know a function or service is available, you can hardly make good use of it. As this post (and this link) will show you, Google’s search functionality goes way beyond the basic search bar.
Google breaks its Search Features Help page down into categories:
- Everyday Essentials
- Reference Tools
- Choosing Keywords
- Local Search
- Health Search
- Trip Planning
- Query Refinements
- Search by Number
Some of these are naturally more useful to business people than others (I suppose some would argue that finding Sports Scores is business-related…), so here is a list of 13 Google Search Functions That Will Change Your Life! (or at least be useful).
The currency conversion feature is especially useful for businesses with international clients or that do purchasing or sales overseas. Type in the currency value and foreign currency for conversion into the Google search field. For this example, we’ll convert 100 U.S. dollars (USD) into European Union Euros (EUR). You can either abbreviate the currency types or not; the process works the same either way. Once you get the initial answer, the currency input fields remain editable so you can convert other values to the same currency, which is nice.
Dictionary and Spell Checker
I tend to use Dictionary.com a lot, but you can also use Google to easily check the spelling of a word or look up its definition. To do a spell check, just type the word in the search field and hit the Enter key. Google will suggest the correct spelling if you misspelled it. On its Search Help page, Google places the Dictionary and Spell Checker under “Choosing Keywords” along with a Synonym Search. The combination of these tools will allow you to search for variations on your primary keywords to enhance the ability of people to find you when they search for what you are offering.
You can find an enormous wealth of useful files by searching for specific file types in your area of interest. Begin by typing the area of interest, then add the operator “filetype:,” and finally the file type extension (i.e., doc, ppt, xls, jpg, etc.). For example I wanted to find PowerPoint files about church administration, so I typed “church administration filetype:ppt.”
Flight Tracker and Flight Schedules
You can use Google to track any flight to any domestic city. First, for flight tracking, find up-to-the-minute flight status for any arriving or departing domestic flight by typing in the name of the airline and flight number into the search field. To see flight schedules to or from a particular destination, type “flights from” or “flights to” followed by the city or airport of interest. You can also add another location with “to” or “from” and view the schedule for a specific route.
You can find business listings for almost any city in the world simply by typing the city name and the category of the business. The search results will display a list of local businesses with maps, reviews and contact information.
You can track packages using the tracking number from UPS, FedEx or USPS by typing the tracking number directly into the Google search box. The search results will show delivery and destination information and/or allow you to log in to UPS, FedEx or USPS to get more information on the shipment.
If you’re looking for a long-lost friend or maybe want to see what information you can find about a prospective employee, enter the name of that person plus some identifying words about him or her to see a list of people with that name.
Find current market data for any publicly traded company or fund by typing in the company’s ticker symbol into the search field. From the snapshot you can click the ticker symbol and get detailed market data from Google Finance.
Especially useful for making sure you schedule those long-distance conference calls or Skype appointments correctly, you can see the time in many cities around the world just by typing in “time” and the name of the city.
You can use Google to convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume among many others. Just enter your desired conversion into the search box and let them do the heavy lifting.
If you are planning a business trip or vacation, you use Google to find out what the weather is going to be. To find your local weather you can just type “weather” into the search field. For weather somewhere besides where you are locally, type “weather” followed by the name of the city.
Search within a specific website without having to use the website’s search engine by using the “site:” operator. Type the area of interest, the word “site,” followed by a colon and then the URL address of the site you would like to search.
Find the geographical location of any zip code by typing it into the search field. The search results will provide city, state and map of the region.