Google is a gold mine for finding any type of information. It is such a fantastic resource that it is now hard to remember how life was before it. If you are a Fundraiser or a Prospect Researcher, you probably use this resource to build donor prospect profiles. But do you use it to its full potential?
We have put together these Advanced Google search tips for prospect research to help you use search engines more effectively. It is based on our researchers’ experience: we have selected only the ones we actually find useful. You may want to consult Google Search Help for a full overview.
If you are searching for something specific like a name, try using quotes to only get results for that specific information. It will significantly narrow down the results to only show the relevant ones.
For example, if you are searching for articles on Sir Peter Jackson, you will get all articles that contain the words Sir, Peter, and Jackson. To only pull up articles on Sir Peter Jackson, type it in the quotation marks:
Adding OR in your search request will save you time by generating results for multiple searches in only one search.
This can be useful when you are searching for a couple for example:
With the hyphen, you can get more relevant results by excluding words from the search.
For example, if you are searching for the businessman Peter Jackson, and not the film producer Sir Peter Jackson, type:
4. Search within specific sites
If it is relevant for your prospect, you may want to focus on a specific location or on non-profit websites. You can select the sites you want to include in your search by using the semi-column.
For example, you can search for Peter Jackson on Australian websites by adding Site:.au to the end of your search. Or search non-profit websites ending in .org by adding Site:.org
The asterisk works as a placeholder that Google will fill.
It is useful when you don’t know all the words of something you are searching for. Combine it with the quotation marks and use * between the words you know.
It can also be used to generate more results in one go from a word with the same root. For example charit* will search for charity, charities, charitable, etc.
6. Don’t over complicate
After looking at all these advanced techniques, it seems important to keep in mind Google’s number one basic tip: start with a simple search.
When you go steps by steps to gradually refine the search, you lower down the risk of missing what you are looking for. Don’t use too many words. Use common terminology.