By Jason Terry, talking about using Google filetype searches to find excel spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations and more.
Everyone has used Google to search for something. But you may not realize the advanced kinds of searches you can do with Google. Sure, you’ve probably figured out how to switch the search mode from regular web page results to image results that have the keywords you type in associated with them. (If not, click here and try out a Google Image search. But be careful, most of the images are copyrighted. If you’re trying to find images you can use for your blog or website, check out my recent blog post about safe images websites.)
Here are real world examples of what I’ve found using a Google filetype search:
- Your top salesperson’s client and prospect list in an excel spreadsheet that included email addresses
- That lawsuit against your company last year in a PDF document
- A list of the people that you laid off last year in a Word document that included names and addresses
Scary, right? Some of this stuff is public record, and some of it is posted to the internet by people that don’t understand the potential consequences. The big secret here is that you can use Google to search the internet for Word Documents, Excel spreadsheets (my favorite), PowerPoint presentations and more. What people don’t understand about Google’s technology is that it searches and archives EVERYTHING it finds on the internet. If you add a new page to your web site, it will be in Google’s index and showing up in search results within hours. Crazy concept, right?
How do I find Excel Spreadsheets using Google filetype searches?
Just add “filetype:xls” to the end of your search. Let’s say for example that I wanted to find any excel spreadsheets on the internet that have “kansas city” in them. I would open my browser, go to www.google.com and type in the following: “kansas city” filetype:xls. Give that a try by clicking here. You will get a list of links to EXCEL SPREADSHEETS that have “kansas city” in them.
At the time I did this search, I got 16,300 results. Think about that. 16,300 Excel Spreadsheets that have “kansas city” in them, and I can go look at any of them. If that doesn’t surprise you, try searching for your company name and see what kind of results you get. It might knock you out of your seat. Then try searches with your competitors company name. Sometimes the things you find are worthless… but sometimes, they can be really interesting.
There are a lot of other filetype search options that you can use as well.
Click here for a complete list of file types that Google supports in their search results.
Use quotes to return more focused results.
If you type blue gurus for your search (without quotes), you will get results with “blue” in them as well as results with “gurus” in them. If you want to return results with both words, all you have to do is put quotes around the search terms. So “blue gurus” or “multiple sclerosis society.” You get the idea. This tip will definitely improve the relevance of your Google searches.
Have fun with your newly acquired search skills. Remember, this information is not good or evil in nature. It’s just information. How you use the information is what matters. I personally use the information I find using these techniques ethically, and when I find something damaging about a company I tell them about it so they are at least aware that their information is visible to the public. Maybe that’s why Google’s motto is “Do No Evil.” They know how extensive, personal and far reaching the information they collect can be.
Did you learn anything? Want me to cover something in a future blog post? I would love to hear from you in the comments!