How Do I Google Someone?
When your search for someone on Google doesn't pan out, try these tips to pinpoint the correct target.
Searching for someone using Google can either be a simple task or a major struggle, depending on how common the person's name is. As a start, try simply entering the name into the search bar on Google's home page. Click Google Search and see what comes up: You might find info on the correct person right away. If not, one of several tricks can help.
Search With Quotes
Google's search algorithms try to interpret each search intelligently, but the site doesn't always get it right. For example, if you search for John Smith, you might get results that include both names in separate places, such as "John Andrews and Smith Jones." To limit your search to the full name, place it in quotes: Search for "John Smith" instead.
Searching with quotes might also exclude valid results that include a middle name or initial. Run multiple searches, such as "John Smith", "John A. Smith" and "John Alexander Smith" to catch each of these possibilities.
Include Related Topics
Narrow searches for common names by including another word or phrase related to the person. Use anything you know about the person that might help pick out the right target, such as a location or a place of employment. For example, search for "John Smith" Alabama or "John Smith" "XYZ Corporation" to find sites that mention both the person and the other topic.
Use an Advanced Search
Search a Specific Site
The Site or Domain option located within the Advanced Search menu can be useful in helping you to find someone when you know the person has an association with a particular group or company. Enter that group's website address in this field to limit your search for the person's name to pages on the site.
Google can't search a website's private pages. If a site requires a login to access, you won't get results from it.
Set a File Type
The File Type option in this menu limits your search to specific file types, such as Word documents, excluding regular Web pages. Depending on the person you're looking for, one file type might give better results than another. For example, if you're trying to find a person in a high-ranking position, choose Adobe Acrobat PDF, which includes many company publications and annual reports. Alternately, searching for Microsoft PowerPoint files might help find a person who makes presentations, such as a professor or another sort of public speaker.
As a shortcut, use operators to include advanced search features from the regular Google search bar For example, the search "John Smith" site:xyzcorp.com filetype:pdf limits results by website and file type.
The dash (or minus sign) operator removes terms from a search. If your searches keep turning up the wrong target, such as someone with a different middle name, include the incorrect middle name after a dash to exclude those hits from your search.
Google's advanced search includes options for a variety of filters to help find the person you want. Click the gear icon on a Google search results page and choose Advanced Search to start. In addition to the search terms themselves, pick options such as the language, region and time of last update.
Search Other Google Services
Rather than search the entire Web, use one of Google's other search engines, which are listed at the top of the search results page. For example, to find someone who's been in the news, use the News search. For an author — including a professor or other academic writer — try the Books search. Searching Images might help if you know what the person looks like.
- If you find a picture of your target with an Images search, click the picture and choose Visit Page to load the site that contains the image.
- If you have a photo of the person on your computer, perform a reverse image search. Visit the Google Images search page, click the camera icon and upload your photo to find sites that use it and visually similar pictures online.