Small business market research is a tough game.

If you Google “how to do market research,” you’ll come across a long list of tactics that are hard to use on a small business budget. Market research surveys and questionnaires, focus groups, competitive intelligence, SWOT analysis, and structured interviews. The list goes on.

If you dig further into market research techniques, you could quickly find yourself reading about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, or even statistical sampling methods.

All of those market research techniques have their place. But when you’re wondering how to do market research for small business, you aren’t thinking about complicated statistical models or big budgets.

Market research firms sometimes run massive surveys and international focus groups. You might not have a way to reach 100,000 people with a survey, or the resources to set up multiple focus groups.

But there are still small business market research tools that work. Conducting market research for a new business or a small business can require some creativity.

But with the right tactics you can do affordable or even free market research that gets you the insights you need for your business.

How can market research benefit a small business owner?

At this point you may be wondering: why do you need market research? Small businesses already have a lot of day-to-day operations to deal with.

It’s hard to make time to do market research for small business—especially if you also need to learn how to do market research in the first place.

But if you don’t periodically check in with your audience, you could be leaving business and revenue on the table without ever knowing.

There are many benefits of market research for small business, but a short list would include:

  • Helping you create more compelling marketing materials
  • Identifying more targeted niches interested in your company
  • Suggesting ideas for new products or services based on pain points
  • Minimizing the risk of bad positioning that costs you leads without you knowing
  • Giving you early updates on industry trends before they become widespread

Simply put, effective market research helps you get inside your customers’ heads.

When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, it can be tricky to find the techniques and market research tools that give the best value for the time and cost investment.

This article covers how to do market research for small business, using eight of our favorite affordable market research techniques.

1. Quora: How to use Quora for market research

Quora is a social media platform based on questions and answers. On Quora, users can submit questions on any topic they like, as well as answer questions related to their expertise.

Getting started with Quora is easy: the platform guides you through the process and immediately prompts you to select your areas of interest.

Getting started with Quora

Setting up your Quora profile will let you get notified when questions are tagged with the topics you select. That makes it simple way to see what burning questions your audience is asking.

And because Quora orders its answers based on voting, you can also see which solutions they think are the most valuable.

For that reason, Quora market research can be a great method of collecting information on customer pain points. In market research for small business, free public questions from your audience is hard to beat.

If it fits into your marketing plan, you can also consider putting some effort into answering Quora questions. Repurposing your blog posts as part of a Quora marketing strategy can increase their reach and visibility.

2. Reddit: How to use Reddit for market research

Reddit bills itself as “the front page of the internet,” and for good reason—Alexa ranks Reddit as the eighth most trafficked website in the world and the fifth most trafficked in the United States.

Reddit contains a wide variety of communities, linked content, original content, and memes. But among cat videos and adorable gifs, there are some surprisingly insightful conversations—discussions that are a gold mine for small business market research.

Reddit is organized into “subreddits,” which are communities focused on specific topics. Finding subreddits based on your industry is a good way to mine for pain points—and discover your audience’s candid thoughts.

Anonymity means that redditors are often willing to share things they wouldn’t normally talk about in person. Reading discussion threads or even asking questions yourself can help you get insights from specific niches.

For example, if you run a fitness business and need to know how to do market research, you’ll find that are quite a few opportunities to conduct customer research on reddit. Subreddits like /r/fitness, /r/loseit, /r/gainit, /r/bodybuilding, /r/running, and /r/bodyweightfitness serve different communities, and people often share their successes and struggles.

Reddit can also be helpful for tracking down a very narrow segment of a larger population. A subreddit like /r/griptraining is the very definition of niche—but if you run a rock climbing or powerlifting gym it could have valuable insights from your target audience.
Reddit market research

Navigating Reddit can be a little tricky for new users. But once you figure it out, it’s a powerful tool to do market research for small business.

3. Book reviews: How to use Amazon book reviews for market research

This market research technique is a little bit unusual—but it’s all the more powerful because of how few people think of it.

When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, you need to get creative. Book reviews offer a wealth of information, sometimes incredibly detailed and specific, that few people are taking advantage of.

Amazon book review

Amazon reviews are public, and you probably have some idea of the most important or popular books in your field. Even if you don’t, Amazon charts are also freely available—it’s easy to find out what people are reading.

Once you’ve tracked down some popular books, take a look at the reviews. Amazon lets you easily sort reviews by how positive they are and how helpful they are, so you can dive in at whatever point you like.

Positive reviews will be helpful because they can help you understand what people are benefiting from.

Negative or lukewarm reviews can be even more helpful because there’s a chance they call out needs or burning pains that the book didn’t answer—which may represent unmet needs your business can take advantage of.

4. Surveys: How to use a survey for market research

When most people think of using a survey to do market research for small business, they think of a massive effort that goes out to thousands and thousands of customers.

No, you probably don’t have thousands and thousands of customers that will respond to a survey. And there are some types of survey research that really do require those kinds of numbers.

But there are others that don’t. And those are the kind you can focus on as you learn how to do market research for your small business.

Setting up surveys that get sent to customers after a sale can help you get a sense of how satisfied they are and what needs led them to make a purchase.

Similarly, you can set up surveys that go out to people that didn’t make a purchase. What prevented them from buying? What might have caused them to make a different decision?

Even if you only ask those two survey questions, the answers can help you make adjustments for the next time around.

As a bonus, this type of small business market research is easy to automate.

Setting up automation that trigger based on purchase or lack of purchase is easy to do with marketing automation software. Set up survey questions once, then focus on other parts of your small business while the results come in.

5. Facebook groups: How to use Facebook for market research

Using Facebook for market research
Facebook has risen up as one of the major community building platforms for business. Type your industry into Facebook search and you’re bound to find a variety of related groups.

Some Facebook groups will be run by other business owners, others are simply people interested in the same topics. Regardless, reading through the conversations and questions asked in Facebook groups can be a valuable source of market research.

When you’re using Facebook for market research, you have a few options.

Simply reading through existing conversations is a great way to get started. Even though names on Facebook aren’t private, people are often more willing to share their goals or frustrations within a relatively private group.

Once you’ve observed for a while and understand a group’s tone and social norms, you can start to participate. Becoming a member of a group and engaging in discussions can be a great way to ask questions and go beyond surface level insights.

You wouldn’t do this on another business’s page, and you have to be careful about spamming in general, but Facebook groups can also help you get participants for a market research survey.

As you get more comfortable with how to do market research on Facebook, sharing a link to a survey can help you gather quantitative market research data.

As a free platform with over two billion monthly active users, Facebook can be a powerful way to do market research for small business.

6. Competitors: How to use competitor analysis for market research

Chances are you’re not the only business in your niche. How are the most popular websites in your industry trying to appeal to your audience?

How can you tell which content is the most popular or successful? Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on a particular topic.

Buzzsumo market research

A tool like SEMrush can tell you which content ranks the highest in search engines. Both are good ways to identify potentially high-value topics.

Beyond content, look at the other marketing materials your competitors put out. What kind of messaging are they using on their website? How are they creating cross-sell and upsell opportunities? What does their team look like—who’s actually doing their marketing?

As you grow your business, this kind of information becomes more useful. There’s no guarantee that your competitors are doing everything the best way—but seeing how they are managing their business can spark ideas to improve your own.

To do this kind of research, collect all of the info your competitors make publicly available. Comb through their website and about page, download flyers and brochures, and check out the events they attend.

Make absolutely sure you get on their email list, so you can see what kind of messages they like to send.

It’s worth taking competitor research with a grain of salt. Again, there’s no guarantee that competitors have done the level of customer research you’re looking for. Still, looking at competitor messaging is a useful way to infer the features and benefits that matter to your audience.

Competitor research isn’t a substitute for contacting your audience directly, but it can be a good starting point to figure out what kind of content is popular in your niche.

7. Behavior and analytics: How to use data for market research

It’s one thing to know what customers say they want. In any industry, professionals know that customers don’t always know how to solve their problems. Sometimes there’s a better question to ask for market research.

What do they actually do?

Tracking behavior on your website or engagement with your emails and messages is a great way to see which of your marketing efforts are most popular—and can help you adjust your marketing in the future.

Google Analytics is one powerful tool that can show you exactly how people engage with your website.
Google Analytics behavior tracking

What are content topics the most popular? Make more content on those topics. Which pages have the best conversion rates? Direct more traffic to those pages. Your content marketing is also a source of information about your audience.

Combining website tracking with marketing automation can take things to the next level.

Marketing automation software can track email opens, link clicks, behavior on websites, replies/forwarding—and use those insights to automatically follow up with customers on what they care about most.

Of all the affordable small business market research techniques on this list, data is the most actionable. Analytics let you go from insight to action almost instantly—and sometimes automatically.

8. Ask your audience: How to use interviews for market research

Even though people don’t always say quite what they mean, there’s no substitute for direct, one-on-one conversations with your audience.

A market research interview allows a free conversation that leads to deeper insights than a survey or written answers. If you can get people to open up, you’ll be rewarded by detailed information about their pain points, struggles, and successes.

The style of the interview is less important than getting interviews done. You can do phone interviews, in-person interviews, even email interviews—and still get actionable insights.

The lessons you learn from talking to even 10 customers can change your business strategy, marketing, or client service. The ability to speak to customers using their own language is like a marketing superpower. Customer interviews are the way to do it.

Entire businesses can be built on what your customers tell you. When you listen to your audience, you get to the heart of what they care about—and no amount of online market research or survey data can tell you that as precisely as they can.

Conclusion: Use market research to get inside your customers’ heads

If your business grows, you’ll eventually want to consider the focus group, survey, statistical analysis, and market trends approach to market research.

Those methods can reveal insights that are hard to find using more affordable market research techniques.

If you need to understand market saturation or build a picture of how your pricing compares to the competition, you’ll eventually need to use some of the more traditional forms of market research.

But there’s value to doing market research before you have the budget for standard methods. Getting in touch with your customers’ needs can give you a huge edge as a small business.

Not a lot of people do market research for a small business like this. Most prefer to wait until they can hire someone to do it for them (or just ignore it entirely).

Because of that, these types of affordable market research techniques are a huge competitive advantage—one that lets you get inside the heads of your customers and offer them exactly what they want to buy.

 Source: This article was published activecampaign.com By Benyamin Elias

Categorized in How to

Lead generation is one of the most, if not most, important functions a successful business has to master in order to survive and thrive. Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and cold prospects into warning qualified leads who are potential candidates for making a purchase of your product or service offering.  For a business to survive it needs a continuous stream of new potential customers. A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form. Whenever a cold prospect shows an interest in your business, it’s the prospect that’s initiating the relationship with you, rather than you, the business, initiating the relationship with the prospect. This makes it easier and more natural for the prospect to want to make a purchasing decision from you somewhere down the line.

This article covers 10 of easy to implement and ideal ways you can create potential customers for your business starting today.

What is a sales lead?

qualified lead with purchasing intent is a potential buyer of an item or service. A lead is generated for your business when an individual or business demonstrates an interest in your product or service and in turn for something of value provides their contact information. This value proposition is what we call a sales hook. A qualified lead is vital to your business being able to eventually generate revenue and profit and is done by matriculating the lead through your sales funnel pathways. A successful business should have a well-defined lead generation strategy in order to procure the best quality leads, at the lowest price, which has intent to make a purchasing decision at a later date. Business’s engaged in lead generation activities can generate qualified leads any number ways, such as online advertising, social media promotions, trade shows, email, as well as numerous other marketing techniques. The list of potential lead generation techniques is endless and only bound by one’s creativity.

Look at it this way, if you generate more leads, but only have an average product, you still win! This is because leads mean more revenue for your business. And revenue means there’s the potential for more profit.

How to generate leads online?

Nowadays to generate leads online has become a lot easier due to the availability and multitude of online platforms and channels. For example, social media provides an excellent communication conduit for promoting and engaging your brand with consumers by directly connecting with them anywhere in the world. It’s almost a given that your business must have an established brand presence on social media channels as well as a clean and modern website that leads can easily find and review the products or services you’re offering. Given this, it’s easy to understand that online promotional activities are one of the best lead generation techniques in modern marketing.

The following are ten lead generation techniques that you might consider incorporating into your marketing mix.

target leads with content marketing

1. Target Leads through Content Marketing

By now, it should be obvious that content marketing is one of the staples behind driving quality web traffic to your website in an effort generate consistent leads that will eventually turn into sales. The more focused your content marketing is on solving pain points of your targeted audience, the more likely those website visitors will be likely become loyal consumers of your brand’s product or service. Your content marketing efforts must focus on one thing and one thing only which is providing value to your target audience in the form of tips, tricks, how to’s, and more. If you remember to focus on solving your target audience’s pain point on every content article you carefully craft, you will eventually find success in generating well-qualified leads. High-quality content can also be a benefit for your business as it will draw more attention to your site from influencers and others within your industry in the form of backlinks. Backlinks are one of the most important aspects in getting your content and website ranked on the first page of Google’s Search Results Page (SERPs). Be sure to add relevant pictures, video, and infographics to expand the reach and engagement of the article, as well as give your target audience a more visual way to absorb your content (not everyone learns the same way so mix it up to appeal to more than one type of learning pathway). By allowing our site visitors to self-discover your interesting tips, event, how to, or news interest piece, will help to establish your authority and brand presence in your given niche.

target leads on forums for lead generation boost to your website

2. Be Active in Discussions and Forums

Potential clients are everywhere throughout the world and they’re most active on all discussion sites also better known as forums. Forum users will discuss any and all issues related to a business’s product or service. Forum users are there most of the time posting about these issues in order to interact with other skilled people who can help them. This is the place your organization can provide solutions to these problems as well as keeping your brand center stage with them. This is the one best lead generation techniques you can use that doesn’t cost money. All you have to do is search the forum discussion boards and have an active presence on them and make sure you’re timely in responding to inquiries on a consistent basis.

use quora for lead generation

3. Connect with People through Quora

Quora has been proven as one of the best lead generation techniques you can use to actively engage with consumers and answer their questions regarding your product or service. What makes Quora an excellent lead generation technique is that it connects you with your target consumers in a question and answer format. As an online advertiser, you can make a profile and answer questions and can interact with the people in need. It’s a good platform to generate sales leads and very helpful in the b2b lead generation side.

The purpose of Quora is to connect skilled individuals and company’s who have the information and skill sets with those who seek it. The focus is on uniting individuals with varying points of view in an effort to diversify one’s way of thinking and/or learning on any given subject. Quora provides everyone with a chance to share their insight and unique perspective they may have gained from practical application and experience. You can easily participate in this knowledge sharing social media platform and promote your business without spending a dime. Additionally, you will get first-hand experience and knowledge in order to know and understand your target audience’s pain points and how to provide them with a solution which will amplify your lead generation efforts many times over.

lead generation tip share videos on social media sites

4. Share Videos on Social Media Sites

Sharing videos on social sites is one of the best lead generation techniques that doesn’t require capital to begin doing. There is the number of web-based social networking platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so forth, each having a unique way to engage with your target audience. YouTube is the most popular social channel for sharing video content. YouTube isn’t only a video sharing site; it’s also the 2nd largest search engine behind Google. This social platform allows your organization to create and maintain your own channel where you can share recordings with respect to specific occasions and events, instructional based videos, and just about anything you cant think of. This will help your company stay in front of your rivals which helps in your lead generation activities to procure new and ongoing sales leads. All you have to do is create a video, add it to your channel and share the simple, concise and easy to digest product videos in order to attract new leads that will eventually land on your company’s website.

website optimization for increased lead generation

5. Optimize your Website

The leads you obtain are only as good as the website that produces them. If you look at examples from some of the top converting lead generation sites, you can learn what and why works on that site and apply the same techniques to your website. As a general rule, there are general elements that should be found on every landing page you use, which includes: company phone number, short contact forms (example: full name & email), social proof in the form of customer testimonials, videos that directly speak to your audience, the use of powerful action verbs such as “get”, “feel” and “have”, with a consideration of your end-goal (get their contact information), and always test, test, and split test again. Additionally, you must follow the best on-page SEO techniques to ensure your content gets listed by the search engines.

lead generation tips for online audience discovery

6. Discover Your Target Audience through Social Media

The one thing you should take into consideration when using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is that you can showcase your brand in front your exact intended targeted audience. With the internet and social media, everyone is online 24/7 and using social media platforms consistently, with reports showing user averaging several hours per day. Thus it’s a platform where you can find the sales leads and by sharing the quality information lead generation can be done more easily.

With Facebook and Instagram leads are created by socio-economics, for example, age, sex, occupation, single, married, area, instruction, interests, with the sky being the only limit. Putting your capital resources to work in social communities may be one of the best methods to promote online, given the present market conditions.

lead generation get attention of the press and media

7. Catch the Attention of the Press

This old-school marketing tactic is one of the most reliable lead generation techniques. There are numerous reasons for including press releases as part of your overall marketing strategy, they can play a very powerful role in making your target audience take notice of your business. Simply put, your target audience can not conduct business with you if they do not know that your brand exists. This being the case, a press release can generate awareness of your brand.

When you launch a new product or service, one of the first things that should be done is to issue a press release informing the public of it. You have to provide the context as to what the main pain point is that your product or service solves. If you remember to answer the question, “Why should I care?” for both the journalist who will be reading your press release and the target audience interested in your niche, you will be able to get it in front of a large number of eyeballs which translates into web traffic.

Press release distribution platforms such as PRNewsWire will get you traffic from various local and national media houses. However, if you self-publish your press releases on your own website it will count towards your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in order to drive free traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing

google adwords for lead generation

8. Use Google Adwords Paid Ads for Lead Generation

Using Google Adwords pay per click (PPC) online advertising model to generate qualified leads with intent is a great way to generate more leads for your business. No matter what industry and niche you are in, you can reach your target audience who are ready to buy from you on a daily basis based on understanding their search term patterns.

One of the main things you should focus on is your quality score which Google rewards advertisers who have a high enough score with a lower cost per click (CPC) and higher ad positions.

In order to improve your Adwords Quality Score (QS), you have to stop targeting junk keywords and try to increase your bid with match keyword phrases.

Remarketing also can increase your Quality Score, because you will be targeting people who have already shown interest in your product or service from a previous ad from the initial search query they performed.

It’s important to recognize the impact of mobile devices have on your Adwords advertising activities so that you can optimize your account accordingly. My past experience shows that it’s a lot easier to convert mobile users who click your ads, on both search networks or display networks, mostly due to the intimacy a mobile device provides. Just like we touched on earlier, make sure you optimize all of your landing pages, so that web visitors can easily find the information that they came to the page for or the action that you want them to take next.

lead generation tip public speaking

9. Public speaking as Lead Generation Technique

Another low or no cost lead generation technique is to give a keynote presentation at an event like trade shows, conferences, and business events. Talking on an occasion and introducing your brand instantly gives you name recognition, popularity, and acknowledgment as an authority leader in your given industry. This will actually raise you from the several different merchants or specialist co-ops attempting to get noticeable. What’s more, by catching up with individuals you meet at the event in a convenient manner, you remain in their mind. The people remember more what they have heard rather than what they have seen, thus making it an excellent method to generate leads and sales.

lead generation use seo for best lead gen activities

10. SEO (Best for Online Sales Lead Generation)

Google is continuously improving and changing which makes the search results more relevant and useful for the end user. Given that over 90% of all search result clicks are not paid advertisements gives us reason to invest significantly more resources and thought into SEO strategies than attempting to blackhat hack Google’s algorithms in order to rank quickly on the search engine results pages (SERPs) with techniques that will eventually get your site banned and forever delisted. A safe and sound approach you should take is focusing on longtail keyword phrases that your target audience conducts searches on. For example, whenever somebody enters a particular keyword phrase, your website could be listed at the top of search engine page for that particular keyword, given the competition is low enough and that you have high-quality content with a word count of at least 1500 nowadays. It is imperative that your website has solid on-page technicals for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to occur. This means before you worry about backlinks for authority sites in your space, you must focus on each pages content and structure.

To generate leads and sales you have to have a solid knowledge base SEO practices and tactics. After strictly following the best practices, SEO will be one of the best lead generation techniques that will bring a continuous stream of website traffic for years to come. If you are unsure of these best practices you can always hire an SEO agency to conduct search engine optimization in order to ensure best long-term results.

Conclusion

Now that you’re aware of top 10 Lead Generation Techniques to Increase Your Online Sales, you should start with the first technique, learn everything you can about it, prior to implementation. Once you build up your skill level in these techniques, it will be much easier for you to get optimum results and an increase in sales. These lead generation tactics are a few of the best methods for online advertising and are used by a majority of Digital Marketing experts and business owners around the world.

Source: This article was published marketingmediawizard

Categorized in Research Methods

FILE - CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing during his nomination process, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON — If this week’s WikiLeaks document dump is genuine, it includes a CIA list of the many and varied ways the electronic device in your hand, in your car, and in your home can be used to hack your life.

It’s simply more proof that, “it’s not a matter of if you’ll get hacked, but when you’ll get hacked.” That may be every security expert’s favorite quote, and unfortunately, they say it’s true. The WikiLeaks releases include confidential documents the group says exposes “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

The CIA has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents, which allege the agency has the tools to hack into smartphones and some televisions, allowing it to remotely spy on people through microphones on the devices.

Watch: New Generation of Hackable Internet Devices May Always Be Listening

Screenshot 1

WikiLeaks also claimed the CIA managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.

For some of the regular tech users, news of the leaks and the hacking techniques just confirms what they already knew. When we’re wired 24-7, we are vulnerable.

“The expectation for privacy has been reduced, I think,” Chris Coletta said, “... in society, with things like WikiLeaks, the Snowden revelations ... I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical and just consider it to be inevitable, but that’s really the direction things are going.”

The internet of things

The problem is becoming even more dangerous as new, wired gadgets find their way into our homes, equipped with microphones and cameras that may always be listening and watching.

One of the WikiLeaks documents suggests the microphones in Samsung smart TV’s can be hacked and used to listen in on conversations, even when the TV is turned off.

Security experts say it is important to understand that in many cases, the growing number of wired devices in your home may be listening to all the time.

“We have sensors in our phones, in our televisions, in Amazon Echo devices, in our vehicles,” said Clifford Neuman, the director of the Center for Computer Systems Security, at the University of Southern California. “And really almost all of these attacks are things that are modifying the software that has access to those sensors so that the information is directed to other locations. Security practitioners have known that this is a problem for a long time.”

Neuman says hackers are using the things that make our tech so convenient against us.

“Certain pieces of software and certain pieces of hardware have been criticized because, for example, microphones might be always on,” he said. “But it is the kind of thing that we’re demanding as consumers, and we just need to be more aware that the information that is collected for one purpose can very easily be redirected for others.”

Tools of the espionage trade

The WikiLeaks release is especially damaging because it may have laid bare a number of U.S. surveillance techniques. The New York Times says the documents it examined layout programs called “Wrecking Crew” for instance, which “explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer.”

Steve Grobman, chief of the Intel Security Group, says that’s bad not only because it can be done, but also because so-called “bad actors” now know it can be done. Soon enough, he warns, we could find our own espionage tools being used against us.

“We also do need to recognize the precedents we set, so, as offensive cyber capabilities are used ... they do give the blueprint for how that attack took place. And bad actors can then learn from that,” he said.

So how can tech-savvy consumers remain safe? Security experts say they can’t, and to remember the “it’s not if, but when” rule of hacking.

The best bet is to always be aware that if you’re online, you’re vulnerable.

Source: This article was published voanews.com By Kevin Enochs

Categorized in Online Research

Search engines do a lot more than immediately meets the eye. If you’re getting results that aren’t relevant, if you're getting too many results, if you want to find something on a particular web site, or if you just want to do a quick calculation or measurement conversion, there are some pretty cool tricks that you can do.

Some of these techniques will work in any search engine, but the coolest features work only on Google. Also, please keep in mind that since web content changes frequently, the results you get from running the sample searches in this tutorial may be different from what I show. 

Choose Your Default Browser Based on Your Preferred Search Engine

If you prefer Google, install Chrome and if you prefer Bing, use the latest version of Internet Explorer on your PC. The reason is that you can type search terms directly in the Address bar (Chrome calls this the Omni Box). In Chrome, this defaults to searching Google, and in IE, this defaults to searching Bing. You can switch the default search engine, but you get the best integration with these search engines with these respective browsers. 

chrome address bar

 

 

Otherwise, in Safari or Firefox, just pick your favorite search engine so you can use it automatically from the address or search box, respectively.

Using Punctuation and Boolean Operators

Quotation marks mean that you’re looking for a specific phrase. Over the years, search engines have gotten so good at guessing what we want, quotation marks aren’t as necessary as they used to be. But they can still be helpful. For example:

“bow ties are cool”

will be far more likely to find that exact phrase, where searching without the quote would lead to pages talking about cool bow ties, but not necessarily that exact phrase.

OR and parenthesis

By default, if you search for several words, most search engines will show results where both or all of the words are found. This is known as an AND search – as though you wanted this and this. But if you want results with either (or any) of your words, use the OR keyword. It means that either (or any) of your search terms were found. For example:

“Doctor Who” OR “Sherlock Holmes”

This will find pages containing either the phrase “Doctor Who” or the phrase “Sherlock Holmes”. Some page results will contain both.

When you place search terms in a set of parenthesis, they are treated as a single unit. So…

(“Doctor Who” OR “Sherlock Holmes”) (“Matt Smith” “Steven Moffat”)

This will find pages containing either the phrase “Doctor Who” or the phrase “Sherlock Holmes”, and also the name of either actor Matt Smith or producer Steven Moffat.

Are you familiar with the Boolean NOT operator (or a minus sign)? Google still lists it in the documentation, but Google, Bing and Yahoo ignore it and it no longer works.

Searching Within a Specific Site

One of my favorite search features is the site keyword, which limits a search to a specific web site. This is great if a site doesn’t have its own search form, or if it isn’t working. For example:

“Peter Capaldi” site:bbcamerica.com

This will find references to actor Peter Capaldi, but only on www.BBCAmerica.com.

You can also use the site attribute to limit searches to a particular top-level domain, like .org, .gov and so on. For example:

"fishing license" site:.gov

This will show you government sites that contain the phrase “fishing license”.

Wildcard Searches

Sometimes you know part of a phrase you’re looking for, but aren’t sure of all the words or maybe how the words will be spelled. That’s when an asterisk comes to the rescue, as a wildcard. It’s especially handy if there are several ways of expressing what you want. For example:

the three *

…will show results for The Three Stooges, The Three Doctors, The Three Musketeers, The Three Tenors, and more.

You can also search for numbers in a range, by using two periods as a wildcard. For example, if you’re shopping for an Android tablet and have a budget of $300 to $600, do this search:

android tablet $300..$600

Connectivity Searches

Two great keywords that show connectivity are the link and related keywords. The link keyword will show what pages link to a particular page. For example:

link:amazon.com

The related keyword will show what sites are similar to the one you specify. Who is to say what qualifies as being similar? Who knows! The algorithms are proprietary. For example:

related:amazon.com

If you visit a page that doesn’t have content that you’re expecting to see – for example, a news item is no longer on the front page – Google might have it cached. So try the cache operator to see what the site looked like the last time Google crawled it:

cache:computers.tutsplus.com

An Operator That Combines All of the Above
Rather than remember all the above operators, you can remember just one, instead: info. When you run info against a web address, you’ll get a menu of operators that you can click to get the results. For example:

info:computers.tutsplus.com

result of Info keyword

 

 

Filtering Results

Sometimes, you might want to see only recent results, or results from a specific time period. After running a search in Google, click the Search Tools link just below the Search bar, then from the submenu that appears, click Any Time and make a choice. In Bing, Any Time is always visible just below the Search bar, and Yahoo has timings in the left column.

Also from Google’s submenu, you can choose a reading level from All Results, and choose a location on the right. Google will try to detect your location automatically, but it doesn’t always guess correctly. It tends to use the location where your Internet provider’s equipment is. If you want to change the location, click the Down Arrow and enter the location you want. Entering a Zip or Postal code usually works. 

filtering results by time

 

Undocumented Google Keywords

Page Title, Content and URL
If you want to search for words specifically in a page title, and ignore page content, use the intitle keyword. For example, if you’re looking for articles that compare Android with iOS, try this:

intitle:android AND iOS

If you’re searching for multiple words and want results where all of the words are in the title, not just some of them, use allintitle instead.

The opposite of searching titles is searching page content and ignoring the title. For that, use the intext keyword, as follows:

intext:android AND iOS

Keep in mind that many pages will have the same phrases in the titles and content, so many of the results from the previous two searches will be the same.

You can also search for a word that appears in a page’s URL, with the inurl keyword, like this:

inurl:photoshop

When searching for multiple words, you can also use allinurl to make sure that all the words or phrases are in the URL.

Google also has similar keywords specifically to search blogs. They are:

Inblogtitle
Inposttitle
Inpostauthor
Blogurl

Finding Files of a Specific Type

With the filetype keyword, you can restrict search results to display a particular type of file, like image or archive files, or Adobe and Microsoft documents. For example, if you want a sample expense sheet in Excel and don’t like Excel’s built-in templates, this search will find some for you:

expense sheet filetype:xlsx

Weather
Need a quick weather forecast? Use the weather keyword and Zip or Postal code to get current conditions and a graph for the next several hours:

Weather 08822

Definitions

You can also get a quick dictionary definition, using the define keyword. It isn’t as extensive as using dictionary.com, but it’s a lot faster. For example:

define:solenoid

Math, Measurement and Language Conversions

If you need to do some quick calculations or convert measurements from one unit to another, Google and Bing have you covered.

Basic Arithmetic Searches in Google and Bing
Examples:

1035 + 698
317537 – 1517
256 * 768
105/39

When you enter a calculation into the Search/Address bar, both Google and Bing will display a handy calculator. You can click the buttons or use the numbers on your keyboard. If your keyboard has a number pad, this is especially nice.

 

built-in calculator

  

Converting Between Imperial and Metric Units

If you’re converting a recipe from Imperial to Metric measurements (or vice-versa) or converting distance, temperature, weight and more, you can do this with a simple search in Google or Bing. Most units you can abbreviate (like g instead of grams or oz instead of ounces).

Examples:

2 cups in ml
500g in oz
200 miles in km
80F in C
Similar to doing arithmetic, when you search for a unit conversion, Google and Bing will display a conversion calculator, with your search displayed in it. Click the top drop-down list to choose different types of conversions (temperature, length, etc.) and click the lower drop-downs to choose different units. 

unit conversion calculator

 

 

Language Translation

Google can translate in and out of approximately a dozen languages. How do you say “wind” in Spanish or what does the French word "suivant" mean? Run these searches:

wind in Spanish

suivant in English

Other Cool Features

Here are some great tips that don't fit into other categories.

Flight Status

Want to check the status of a flight? Just search for the airline and flight number. Google will show the flight status, and if the flight is currently in the air, you’ll see its relative position, as in the screen capture below. Bing will show basic departure and arrival information. For example:

United flight 1

airline flight status display

 

 

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

If you want to know how many degrees of separation there are between almost any actor and actor Kevin Bacon, do a bacon number search in Google, like this:

Harrison Ford bacon number

The answer to that particular query is 2. 

Tracking Packages and Searching Other Numbers
Google has information on package deliveries from the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx. The tracking numbers for these services use different formats, so you don’t have to specify which one you want; just enter the number like this:

1Z1234X12345678

Doing a patent search? Use the patent keyword followed by the patent number:

patent 5889566

Google does several other alphanumeric searches that don’t require a keyword. Just enter the numbers to search for:

Zip code
ISBN
VIN (Vehicle ID number)
FAA airplane registration number
Phone number
Search Mars and Beyond
This isn’t a search as much as it’s an undocumented feature, courtesy of NASA as well as Google. Just go to:

www.google.com/mars

…and have a look around! The default view is a false-color elevation map, and you can also choose infrared and real-life visible surface. There’s also an option to explore Mars using Google Earth.

interactive map of mars

  

 

Once you’ve conquered Mars, try your hand – or bat’leth – in Klingon. Yes, Google has a Klingon language version at:

www.google.com/?hl=xx-klingon

You might find a good recipe for gakh. Ka’plah! 

Source:  http://www.airsassociation.org/administrator/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item

Categorized in Search Techniques

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