Google is the undisputed King when it comes to internet searches, and it’s possible that I am actually Google’s biggest fan. Without a doubt, there’s very little Google can’t find you an answer for and for most of us VAs, Google is a major tool in our virtual armory. But did you know that there’s so much more to Google than typing a sentence in a search bar? (With Google voice you don’t even need to type it, just click the microphone and say it!). Here’s a few nifty tricks that I bet you didn’t even know Google could do…

Tell us the date or the time in a certain location

Once upon a time, we needed to Google “time conversion” and find a website to tell us what time it is Michigan so that you don’t call your top supplier in the middle of the night. But now Google can do it for you, no third party website required!

Simply type in Time in Michigan (or replace the word Michigan in the example with a location of your choice) and you will get the local time for that place, as well as the time zone it is in.

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Search for Flight Status

The days of having to go to the airline website, browse around to find flight arrival info then flick through a long list of flight numbers is long gone, simply Google your flight number to see scheduled details and current flight status along with departure and arrival times!

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Search for Flights

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve nearly lost the plot searching for the best deals on flights for my clients, (and booking your own summer holiday too!). That is until I discovered Google Flights which is up there with the best comparison sites as far as I’m concerned.

Simply type into Google London to Brussels to see details for all flights to that destination, then you’ll see a link to search with Google Flights. Follow the link to enter Google’s very own flight comparison site, enter your dates and criteria, and Viola! as if by magic you have a list of all possible flights and price combinations.

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Search using Wildcards

You might already know about Wildcards, they’re pretty widely used these days, and Google can do Wildcards in a fairly sophisticated way.

Use an asterisk (*) in your search to substitute a missing word or use a question mark (?) to substitute a missing letter e.g. the rain in * brings up the obvious results of the Music from My Fair Lady, and the quote about the rain in Spain. However, it will also show you results about rain in other places too!

If you want to find results for the exact phrase place your search term in inverted commas e.g. “the rain in *”

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You can even exclude certain results by using a dash (-) e.g virtual assistant -jobs will show virtual assistant related results, but not those advertising jobs or seeking jobs

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Use Boolean Search Operators

Using  “AND” or “OR” will help you refine your search results. You can mix these up with the wildcards above if you want to! Using OR will return results that contain just one of a list words. E.g. recipe for carrot OR cauliflower whilst recipe for carrot AND cauliflower will return a very different set of results

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As mentioned before, you can enclose these search terms in quotation marks to search for exact phrases e.g. recipe for “carrot soup” OR “cauliflower pickle”

Calculate a tip or split your bill

Need to calculate a tip? Just search “tip calculator” – you’ll get a clever little calculator that lets you split the bill by number of people paying, and even add a tip on top if you’d like to…

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Find out the distance or travel time between two locations

No need to even open Google Maps, simply search London to Birmingham or NW5 1AA to B4 6HU to see instantly the distance and travel time. Brilliant for helping with managing diaries, booking travel and working out mileage for your clients.

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Set a timer

Yep, you can even set a timer with Google! Simply Google set timer or set timer for 5 minutes and hit ‘go’. This is a nifty tool to have to hand of you want to keep tabs on how long you are working on a particular project, or if a client wants you to stick to a budget of a certain amount of time. I find it particularly useful if I am doing internet research for clients, where it’s easy to get stuck in a Google information vortex and time just disappears!

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Search within a site

Want to find something within a website, but their in site search engine isn’t up to the job? Simply search site: [web address here] followed by your search term. e.g. google will show you all articles on our website related to Google

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Instant conversions

Just when you thought it couldn’t get an better, along comes Google Conversion! Simply type what you’re thinking and Google will give you the answer. Try typing 5ft in metres or 100 euros in pounds cool, huh?!

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And the list would be complete without a couple of useless Google Tricks for you to try 🙂 Neither of these will make your day more productive, or get you finished by that 3pm deadline, but they have been known to make fully grown men squeal with delight on occasions!

Zerg Rush

Search Zerg Rush to see a swarm of O’s attack and eat up your search results! You have to click on the enemies to destroy them before they swallow up your results.

Disclaimer: VA Professional Magazine cannot be held responsible if you lose an hour out of your day playing with this. You’ve been warned…

Do a barrel roll

Ask Google about this, and the obedient little fellow will do exactly as you tell him – go on, try it, and I dare you not to giggle and do it again 🙂