What's the worst part of using Craigslist? Sorting through all those listings to find the one thing you want.

Yes, you can use Craigslist's search function to help you narrow down its thousands of items. However, when you use Craiglist's search engine, you're limited to its search algorithm and options. There's not a lot you can do with Craigslist's search function besides type a few key words into the box, add a price range, and hope for the best.

What if you could get even more specific with your searches, and what if you could use those searches to save money? That's where Google Advanced Search comes in.

How to use Google Advanced Search

Google Advanced Search lets you create an extremely customized search within a specific website. Let's take, for example, the Craigslist site for the Los Angeles metro area at losangeles.craigslist.org. Enormous, right? How could you find anything in that huge directory of items?

Actually, it's not all bad. When you type in searches for specific products, like "KitchenAid stand mixer cobalt blue," Craigslist gives you pretty good search results. However, some searches aren't as useful as others. When you search "Kenmore refrigerator," for example, the LA Craigslist site returns over 700 results. Who has time to sort through all of that?

Google Advanced Search lets you customize this search and get only the results you need. If you want a full-size Kenmore refrigerator that comes with free delivery, for example, here's how to fill out the various Google Advanced Search fields:

  • All these words: Kenmore refrigerator
  • This exact word or phrase: free delivery
  • Any of these words: full size
  • None of these words: dorm
  • Site or domain: losangeles.craigslist.org
  • Last updated: past week

Hit that search and, as of this writing, you get six results, making it much easier to find the Kenmore fridge of your dreams. (Looking for something else? Check out this previous KCL article on the top 10 items to shop for on Craigslist.)

How to save money with advanced searching

"Okay," you're probably saying, "but how do I use this trick to save money?" Try adding three letters to your Google Advanced Search: OBO. OBO stands for "Or Best Offer," and you're going to make that offer.

Let's go back to that Kenmore refrigerator example, and try this Google Advanced search:

  • All these words: Kenmore refrigerator
  • This exact word or phrase: OBO
  • Any of these words: full size
  • None of these words: dorm
  • Site or domain: losangeles.craigslist.org
  • Last updated: past week

Bingo. As of this writing, three people in the greater Los Angeles metro area are interested in selling their full-size Kenmore fridge for your best offer. It's time to start calling them and naming your price.

If you're going the OBO route, try setting your Google Advanced Search to "last updated: one month" instead of "last updated: one week." Find the oldest listings that are still active. Those people really want to get rid of their stuff, and they're likely to accept a very low offer if you'll just take their stuff off their hands. They may even let you have whatever's in the listing for free.

Using Google Advanced Search lets you narrow your search to exactly what you hope to find. Adding "OBO" lets you find products where you get to make the offer and control how much you pay. It's a great way to find exactly what you need on Craigslist and save money.

 

This is a guest post by Kyle from Florida.