Are you tired of sifting through pages of irrelevant Google results? 11 easy ways to make your Google searches faster and smarter
Google now presents its image-search results in an endless-scrolling format, but for standard web searches, you still need to click Next to view the following page of results. To apply infinite scrolling to your searches, install the Chrome extension FastestChrome or FastestFox for Firefox. These sister add-ons automatically load the next page of results when you scroll down to the bottom of the screen, so you don’t have to click and wait. Note that they also add lots of other content to your search results, such as shopping results and pictures, so it’s worth going into the add-on’s Options and disabling anything you don’t want.
An alternative is to change the number of results Google includes per page. Click the cog icon in the top-right corner, choose ‘Search settings’ and drag the ‘Results per page’ slider bar to the desired figure, which can be any number up to 100.
Filter results by time and location
You can use Google’s search filters to only show pages that have been recently updated or uploaded, and that are K-focused. Search for a query, then click the ‘Search tools’ button at the top of the page. Click ‘The web’ drop-down menu and choose ‘Pages from the UK’, then click the ‘Any time’ menu and choose whether to limit your results to content from the last hour, day, week, month, year or a custom date range.
Only view pages you have or haven’t visited
Another useful feature tucked away in the ‘Search tools’ set of menus is the ability to only view pages you haven’t visited before, to save you having to wade through the same results again. Just click the ‘All results’ menu and choose ‘Not yet visited’ to filter out pages you’ve already seen.
Conversely, if you spotted some interesting information during a search but can’t remember where, you can choose ‘Visited pages’ from the same menu to see only pages you’ve been to before to quickly find the content.
Stop spam clogging up your results
Despite Google’s best efforts, its search results still contain some “content farms” – spam pages that appear to match your query, but that contain no useful information and have been set up solely to earn money through page views and advertising. You can stop these worthless sites appearing in your results by installing the Chrome add-on Personal Blocklist , which automatically detects and blocks content farms. You can also block sites manually by clicking ‘Block [domain name]’ below the site’s address in your results. To unblock a site, just click the Personal Blocklist toolbar icon and remove it from the blocked list.
Jump straight to the info you need
Sometimes, when you click a search result, you need to scan the page carefully to find the information you’re looking for. Google Quick Scroll for Chrome saves you time and hassle by letting you jump straight to the relevant content. It works by displaying a pop-up window in the bottom-right corner of your browser, which contains snippets of text from the page that matches your query. Click one of these snippets to read the full section. Quick Scroll is only appearing when necessary, and it’s particularly useful with long, text-heavy web pages.
Add favicons to your search results
One of the best ways to make results from trusted sites stand out from dodgy blogs and content farms is to display favicons – the tiny logos you see in your address bar and bookmarks menu – next to them. The Chrome add-on Faviconize Google places favicons next to pages from reputable sites such as the BBC, the Guardian, MoneySavingExpert.com, Wikipedia and the Web User Forums, so they’re easier to spot when you’re scanning your results. If you have the Greasemonkey add-on installed in Firefox, there’s a Faviconize Google script you can use.
Search Google by highlighting text
Most browsers now let you look up words and phrases on web pages by highlighting them, right-clicking and choosing “Search Google for [search term]”. But you can speed things up even further by installing the Chrome add-on Highlight to Search. Just highlight a word, click the search button and choose one of the options from the drop-down menu. These are the same as the auto-complete suggestions that appear when you start typing into Google’s main search box. The search results open in a new tab so you don’t lose your place.
Explore the I’m Feeling Lucky button
It’s easy to ignore the I’m Feeling Lucky button on the Google homepage, so you might not have noticed a clever tweak that was made to it last year. Hover your mouse over the button and you can spin through several different variants that open random pages on other Google sites. For example, clicking I’m Feeling Playful takes you to an interactive Google Doodle ; I’m Feeling Artistic shows you a random artwork from Google Art Project (www.googleartproject.com); and I’m Feeling Wonderful transports you to a location in Google’s World Wonders Project.
We could only get the feature to work in Chrome, but it may appear in other browsers soon.
Remove redirects from search results
Google uses redirection links to track your clicks in order to analyse your browsing habits and later personalise your search results. The excellent Firefox add-on Remove Google Search Redirects removes that redirection and turns every search result into its original, direct link. This speeds up your searches and protects your privacy, because you’re always taken straight to the desired page.
There’s a similar add-on for Chrome called Remove Google Redirects, which covers redirection links in a variety of Google services, including Search.
Combine Google with Bing
They say two heads are better than one, so why not boost your searches by running Google alongside its main rival Bing (www.bing.com)? There are several sites that combine the two search engines, including Qrobe.it (qrobe.it), which blends results from Google and Bing in a single, endless-scrolling page. Then there’s Askboth.com (www.askboth.com), which displays the results side by side and also finds matches for your query on Twitter. We also like Specra (specra.com), which runs your search through Google, Bing and Yahoo to get the best possible results. You can use Specra’s slider bars to decide which search engine is given greatest and least priority in the combined results.
Add DuckDuckGo to Google
You can enhance Google search results by pulling in some of the best features from the excellent search engine DuckDuckGo (duckduckgo.com). Install the DuckDuckGo add-on for Chrome or Firefox and when you run a Google search, you’ll see Zero-Click Info from DuckDuckGo at the top of the page.
This provides instant answers to search queries, such as definitions of words; images; and the top results from the different categories your search term applies to – for example, people, places and products. Click ‘See DuckDuckGo results’ to switch from Google to the bird.