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Google: The Fastest Phonebook On The Web

Mark Fleming
Expert Author
Published: 2005-03-10

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There are many web phone number directories, but none as close to your fingertips as is Google's search field.

Sure, like many of the things we cover in GoogleTutor, it's been around for a while. But, also like many of the things that have been around for a while, barely anyone knows about them!

Google provides an excellent directory of residential and business phone numbers in the United States. With Google Phonebook you'll be able to:
    search residential listings separately
    search business listings separately
    search both business and residential listings together
    perform a reverse number lookup
Looking Up Phone Numbers

There are three operators that perform the searches for a phone number (we'll get into the reverse directory lookup later). These are:
    rphonebook: Search the residential listings

    bphonebook: Search the business listings

    phonebook: Search both residential and business listings
The format for these operators is [operator] [name] [location]

A search beginning with any of these operators brings up Google's Phonebook search results page. A search of both business and residential combined (phonebook:) will list up to five matches for each of the two phone books, with links to display more. The other two operators display a longer initial page of matches.

The name search word, if residential, should be [first last], [initial last], or [last]. You can include the middle initial, but if the listing does not have it, you won't get the match. I suggest trying "first name last name" first, and if that does not work out, try "first initial last" because if it's listed that way using the first name won't find it. Finally, if that does not work, try just the last name. And, if you have a strange first name and a last name I cannot even pronounce let alone spell (like a doctor I know who is named Proton), you can try the first name only

If you are looking for a business, Google Phonebook will simply look for a match of your search term word or phrase (multiple words are considered a phrase-won't be reordered) in the listing business name.

The location can be a zip code, a city or a state. If you're looking for a Smith, you better narrow it down to zip code if you can. If you're looking up Shiblowski, it probably doesn't matter.

Here is an example of finding a specific individual, zip code known:
    rphonebook: Aaron Smith 92101
Here is an example of finding all plumbing companies in Los Angeles; state not required due to uniqueness):
    bphonebook: Plumbing Los Angeles
Here is an example of finding a CPA in Belmont; unsure if listed in business or residential
    phonebook: Stevens Belmont, CA
Wildcards are not permitted and just using a portion of a word does not act as a wildcard. For example, using "Plumb" will not find "Plumbing." However, putting in one or more full words of a multi-word listing name will work as a "wild card;" i.e. "Plumbing" shows all listings with the word "Plumbing" in the name.

You can also use a logical OR for the residential or business name, but not for the location. This could be helpful if there are several ways similar business might describe themselves. For example, if you had some clothes you need altered you might need to look up both sewing and alterations. Or, for a residential listing you might not know if a last name is spelled Fleming or Flemming:
    bphonebook: (sewing | alterations) los angeles

    rphonebook: john (fleming | flemming) ca
Doing a Reverse Lookup

All of the three operators can be used for a reverse number lookup using the format [operator] [phone number]. Area code is required. The following looks up the phone number 805-555-1234 in either directory:
    phonebook: 805-555-1234
Asking Google to Remove Your Listing

If you aren't happy that Google has your name listed, you can go to the Google Phonebook Removal Page to request that they remove it.

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About the Author:
Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

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