The reasons for wanting to search for people online can range from curiosity about an old flame to an important business contact you need to make. Google can help you find people with a limited amount of information. All you need is a name, email address, physical address or even a photo.
When you decide to try to find someone, use as much information as you have about the person. Enter that information into a search query such as John Smith, New York, Jones Law Firm. If you receive too many results, and the first page doesn’t seem to be the person you are looking for, add more definitive information if you have it.
If the name is unique, or the location is small, you might try to remove some of the data. In the above example, perhaps John Smith no longer works at Smith Law Firm, or the firm has not used his name in any website materials.
Tips to help make your search easier.
- If you know the first and last name, use quotation marks around the name to filter results to only the complete name.
- Do not forget to click the images tab if you are familiar with their appearance. Many people post pictures of themselves online or appear as part of an “About Us” page on a company website.
- If you have a picture of the person, you can do a Google reverse image search to find photos of the person online. You can use the picture that the person uses as a profile picture on social media to do the reverse image search, hopefully finding other pictures that will lead to more information.
- You can also set a Google alert to notify you of any new information posted about the person. Although placing an alert is helpful to keep track of a person or business on the internet, remember, the Google alert will not notify you of social media activity. To set up an alert, go to google.com/alerts and enter the information.
- Many public records are available online. Use Google to search for public records such as marriage and divorce and property records. Record searches work best if you know the state, and preferably the county of residence of the person you are trying to find.
- If you have the phone number for a business or person, you can type the phone number in using hyphens as you would if writing the number. Using a landline number yields more success, but occasionally you will find information from a cell phone as well.
- Try different combinations of the information you have about the person. Using our John Smith example, if you know the state he lives in, you will use the search query “John Smith” “California,” but if he is also an attorney, you would add “attorney” or “lawyer” to the search string.
- You can search for specific social media information using Google by typing in the name of the person you are searching for and the social media platform. A Google search of social media sites can often be more accessible than using internal search functions on social media. Start with major sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Use Google to find the various dating apps, and then download the apps (most offer a free trial) to see if the person has a profile on a dating app or website.
The resources listed above are free and only take a little time and effort. The odds are good unless you have very little information or the person is actively hiding their online presence, that you will find a lead. If you are unsuccessful, you can use Google to find a paysite for more in-depth information.
Make sure to search for reviews on any site you might consider paying for information. Some websites will charge a fee to do the same search you can do yourself using the tools you can find on Google.
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