Need to do some legal research? Are you having trouble locating a specific requirement, page or article on a website? Here are a couple of ways to leverage Google and its tools to make your life easier and your research more effective:
Use advanced search operators
We all know and have used Google to search for things, and by-and-large, it is a powerful and sophisticated search engine that gets the job done. If you want to take your searches to the next level, however, it is all about “search operators.” Search operators are special characters or commands used in a search query to expand on simple text searches. Depending on the operators used, search results can be streamlined, focused and limited in many ways. For our purposes, let’s focus on one such search operator – the “site” operator.
Say you are looking for specific data retention requirements or hard-to-find information on a particular website. Maybe you aren’t getting good results using the website’s search function, or, heaven forbid, the website doesn’t even have a built-in search function! Time to put Google’s search engine to work, using the “site” operator.
On the main Google search page, type in your search term, followed by a space, and then type site:website URL (or a URL file path, if you want to search in a more specific area of the website).
So, for example, you are on Zasio’s website and are searching for certain information mentioning the term “GDPR.” On Google, type the following: gdpr site:zasio.com
Or if you are searching for pages containing an exact phrase, such as “GDPR compliance,” type: “gdpr compliance” site:www.zasio.com
The results will pull up all found pages with the term “GDPR” (or “GDPR compliance” as the case may be) from the specified website (in this case – zasio.com), helping you to better locate what you are looking for, without having to wade through thousands of results on unrelated websites.
Also, as you can see, adding quotes around a phrase or grouping of words forces an exact search for that specific phrase or snippet of text. This holds true for any general Google searching, regardless of whether advanced search operators are used or not.
There are many other search operators and other search hacks that can be used in Google, to help you expand your search abilities and narrow your search results in a variety of ways.
Use web browser extensions
Browser extensions or “add-ons” are small pieces of software that attach to and customize a web browser, giving it additional capabilities and features. There are thousands of extensions (many free) that accomplish all sorts of things, but here we will focus on the Pearls extension.
Pearls extension—The Pearls extension is available as a free extension for the Chrome web browser. Essentially, this tool automatically highlights pre-defined search terms on a webpage. While you can always manually perform keyword searches one-at-a-time using CTRL+F, with this extension a webpage will automatically highlight your pre-selected terms, without you needing to do anything. This saves a lot of time searching through a large law, regulation, or web page, as you can quickly hone in visually on the pertinent or desired information. This tool allows you to save lists of search terms for both specific web pages and generally. It works best for HTML-based pages but does not currently work on pdf documents. Chrome, as well as Firefox, has a variety of similar and additional search tool-related add-ons, that might prove useful in your web search efforts.
We have just scratched the surface of Google’s capabilities, but these tips are a great starting point to help you more effectively use Google to your advantage. For further solutions regarding your legal research, information governance and data compliance needs, contact Zasio today.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.