12 Powerful Google Tips Everyone, Especially Business Analysts Should Know

Every day, as Business Analysts, we are tasked with

  • understanding new business domains
  • understanding best practices
  • "speak the language" of subject matter experts
  • analyzing competitors

Each of these tasks points to our daily challenge. How to find the relevant information that you are looking for from mounds of resources, and present it in clearly and concisely? How to avoid those frantic late night online research and truck loads of printed articles that seems to get you to nowhere?

Here is a sure-shot way to navigate through what you need, and find that needle in the haystack. All by investing 10 minutes to learn some Superfast Google Tips.

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Google Tips by Requirements Inc.

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All the hyperlinks on this post are examples that you can click and see what google does. They open in new windows, go ahead and experiment, modifying search terms as needed.

1. Define key terms

Come across a term that's not familiar to you? You don't need a whole wikipedia page to get the crux of a subject matter. Just ask Google to define it for you. See what define: amortization brings up! This trick is very useful when you start a new project in a domain you are not familiar with.

2. Find "exactly this"

If you search for business analyst jobs, you may find search results relevant to the words "business", "analyst" and "jobs". If you use "business analyst" jobs instead, you will find results where the phrase "business analyst" appears together.

3. Search any site

Your favorite website does not have a good search? No worries. Use the "site:" keyword to search only within a website you are specifically interested in. Example: site:requirementsinc.com business analysis will search for the term "business analysis" within requirementsinc.com. You can also use this to search a specific top level domain, such as gov. site:gov "business analyst" jobs searches for business analyst jobs within any government website. site:edu "requirements management" whitepaper  will get you requirement management related whitepapers published by educational institutions or universities.

4. Find one | another

By default Google searches for web pages that contain all the words you put in the search box, but if you want results relevant to one term or another (or both), use the OR operator. Or just | instead. Try site:gov "business analyst" OR "systems analyst" jobs. Another example: site:edu "requirements management" whitepaper | "white paper" | casestudy | "case study"

5. Find Similar ~

Rather than thinking about all alternate terms yourself (whitepaper, case study, business case etc.), if you would like Google to do it for you, ~ can come in handy. Try site:edu "requirements management" ~whitepaper

6. Search Wildly

Can't remember part of the search phrase? Or would you like to search across a group of related items? Try rational * software tutorial to search for tutorials on multiple rational products, such as Rational Rose, Rational ClearCase, Rational ClearQuest, etc.

7. Search for files

This is a very powerful, especially when you use all the above techniques together to narrow down exactly what you are looking for. White papers are generally published as PDF files. So site:edu filetype:pdf "requirements management" ~whitepaper will PDF whitepapers related to the search terms. This is also helpful you are looking for some requirement related templates. Try googling filetype:xls "requirements traceability matrix" | "RTM"

If you just want to search for .PDF files, or Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets, for example, use the "filetype:" operator. cats filetype:pdf

8. Never mind a search a result

To avoid a search term, use the "minus" or "hyphen". site:gov "business analyst" OR "systems analyst" jobs. May be you want a BA/SA job anywhere but Illinois? site:gov "business analyst" OR "systems analyst" jobs -illinois OR IL.  Perhaps you want to search for tutorials on all rational products except ClearCase. rational * software tutorial -ClearCase would do it.

9. Find your Client's Competition

If you need to identify who your client's competitors are, for purposes of product features comparison, or educate yourselved with the trends in the industry, try these two tips:

The related" keyword, used as related:aetna.com or try aetna vs (google instant can give you several options as you type this keyword in the search bar:

Competitor Analysis

10. Got Books?

Have an appetite to boost your BA professional skills? Books by Karl Wiegers can help you search for books by a certain author. You can also try Book Search to find several useful books. Example, business analysis books. Several preview and full text books are available in several topics.

11. "Set Timer" to focus on your work

Getting too distracted with meetings, emails and walk-in questions that does not allow you to get anything done? Or just distracted by browsing through all that Google returns? Create some lone time - 10 mins, 30 mins or 1 hour, and block that time on your Outlook calendar that you can use to get things done.

Try set timer 30 mins, or set timer 5 secs to quickly experiment what google does 5 seconds from now!Turn on your speakers!

12. Got time to kill before meetings?

Waiting for all participants of a webinar meeting and have an impatient crowd? That's happened to you more than once, right? Rather than having everyone stare at a blank screen, show off your secret google tricks!

Search for do a barrel roll and see for yourself.

May be you are a zerg rush person? In gaming, a "zerg rush" happens when a player is attacked by a zillion weak opponents. Any one of the weaklings is easy to take out, but they will overpower you with their humungous numbers! In the google search results page, click an "o" thrice to defeat it, but you got to be fast!

You may also want to show off what google calculates as the loneliest number, or what once in a blue moon really is!

Bonus Tip

If you cannot remember any operators such as " " or | or -, you can always use Google's Advanced Search.

Put what you learned to work!

Lets find google tips and tricks in PDF format: google search tips and tricks filetype:pdf

Do you have a handy tip to share? Comment away!googlepdf

1 reply
  1. Victor
    Victor says:

    Helpful. especially the filetype one. Had no idea about the timer command either.
    I use weather (my zipcode) all the time.

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