Using "The Google"

This morning, we’d like to welcome back Ryder Daniels to Spend Matters. Ryder is Spend Matters resident tech-ed columnist.

We all know by now that Al Gore invented the Internet and President Bush summarily renamed Google "The Google." Now that that’s out of the way, let's talk about a few simple Google search tricks.

Google can be used as a no-cost method to do lots of interesting things. We'll touch on a few tips today:

  • How to use Google to do some competitive intelligence research using the "filetype:ppt" technique
  • How to use Google to see if suppliers might be advertising or referencing my company as a client using the "site" technique
  • How to look for RFPs to examine questions, strategies, etc.

These techniques rely on the advanced search parameters. Try Googling something like "ariba filetype:ppt." By using the filetype filter, you can find presentations to download and review. With Google's advanced search, you can limit it to a date range. I usually select "Past Year" to filter out older materials. Here's the link.

If you perform the Google search above, you'll notice the very first hit is a presentation from Axiom Legal for the Association of Corporate Counsel, Southern California Chapter. It seems to review some recommendations (some labeled Cisco Confidential) that touch on comparisons involving Ariba and some contract management strategies. Anyway, you get the idea. Let the "cease & desist" e-mails begin... The best part about this first example of competitive intelligence is that Axiom Legal lists Google as a client. Also note that by the time you read this, that document will likely be gone. Don't worry, there's plenty more. Google isn’t limited to PPT or PDF; you can also find Microsoft Word and Excel files as well.

Another use case is to do some simple checking to see if perhaps a supplier is referencing you as the customer on their website. Most of these are obviously permitted, but if your contracts do not allow this, here is a simple way to check: Do a search that is your company name and then use "site:" with the supplier name. Here is one that checks if Ketera is referencing Asplundh "asplundh" These techniques don’t solve 100% of the problem of course, but they are a good start.

You can also combine these techniques to see, for example, all the PDF files available on a competitor's site, or even your own site for that matter. Here’s one that looks at all the PDFs available on "filetype:pdf"

Another example is how to look for RFP documents related to ERP: "erp rfp filetype:xls." Finally, this search looks for pricing information in spreadsheets related to Oracle "confidential pricing oracle filetype:xls." Obviously, your mileage on this type of research will vary. The more detailed, the more likely you'll be spending time opening a lot of unrelated documents. But like any data-mining endeavor, there is always the likelihood of striking some gold if you have the right tools and criteria -- and it goes without saying that all the usual legal caveats should be thought through when using these research methods. Copyright, confidentiality, and fair use doctrines all apply.

A few weeks ago, Google added the handy "nearby" filter for your search. Most useful for your mobile, it lets you find a sushi restaurant close by, or maybe a local printer near a pitch meeting to finish an emergency rush job.

Google has very advanced capabilities: we're really just scratching the surface. What other Google tips do readers have on how they use it in advanced ways for their jobs?

- Ryder Daniels, Capsaicin, LLC

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