You’re searching for someone: an old flame, your kindergarten best friend, that guy who gave you his phone number last night at the rave. You put their name in the search engine, and BAM! results. There’s one problem. How do you know which ones are relevant to the person in your life, especially if you’re looking for, say, John Smith?
1. For obvious reasons, it’s much easier if you know something about the person you’re searching for. If you know a nickname that this person uses, searching for the nickname along with the name you know them as can help speed things along. If you know something that the person’s interested in, trying searching for that interest along with that person’s name.
2. Don’t be too quick to eliminate a result just because it doesn’t sound like something the person would do. If I weren’t unique on Google, I’m sure people would have done this based on my fields of study. No one expects the mathematical inquisition.
3. If you’re looking for social profiles of this person, try Pipl, which shows those results first. Facebook is another good place to search, as the real name is the natural thing to search. If you have this person’s email address, search for it, whether on Google, Pipl, or Facebook. If little comes up, search for the email without @domain.com–just the username. These usernames usually aren’t unique, but sometimes you can find a lot.
4. Check out the image results for images of people. If any of them look like the person you’re looking for, check out the site the photo came from. More clues could be hiding.
5. This should have been the first tip, but use quotes. Search for “John Smith” instead of John Smith. This reduces the number of total results significantly.
6. Remember that not everyone is as savvy with social media as you probably are. If you are tracking down a long-lost friend, it’s not likely that you’ll find an email address for them if you haven’t already found an online profile of some sort, but you may find out what they’re up to.
Happy searching, and make sure to use these skills for the power of good.