Personal phone numbers
Although Google has discontinued their official phonebook search feature, you can still use it to find phone numbers, albeit with a little more legwork (and somewhat limited success, to be honest). Here's how you can do that:
- full name plus zip code: Type in the person's full name plus their zip code, and Google will return relevant contact information, including a map.
- A simple Web search: If the person has ever inputted their phone number onto the Web, a simple search for that person's name can sometimes turn it up. Type their name in quotes into Google's search field and see what comes back.
Business phone numbers
Google is fantastic for tracking down business phone numbers. You can accomplish this in a number of ways, including:
- type of business plus zipcode: Perhaps you don't know the name of the business you're looking for, but you have something in mind. Type in the business genre, for example, "pizza restaurant", then the zip code. Google will return local listings that include maps, reviews, and contact information (phone numbers, addresses, website URLs, even email addresses if available).
- type of business plus city: Just like in the previous example, except you can substitute the name of a city for a zip code, i.e., "seattle doctors".
Search within a specific website for a contact number
Sometimes, we know a phone number exists for a company, website, or organization - it's just that we can't find it and it doesn't come up easily in a rudimentary Web search. There's an easy way to solve this problem:
site:www.site.com "contact us"
Basically, you're using Google to search within a website for the "Contact Us" page, which typically has the most relevant phone numbers listed. You could also try "Help", "Support", or any combination of these three.
Filter your search results
Usually when most people use Google, they're seeing all the results from all of Google's search properties in one convenient place. However, if you filter these results, you potentially end up seeing quite a few different results than you might have otherwise. Try searching for a phone number in the following services:
In addition to general Web search, Google offers specialized search properties that focus in on specific segments of online content. You can use these search engines to find phone numbers and personal information you might not have otherwise.
- Blog Search: Search by name, phone number, or, if you know a username or nickname that the person you're looking for goes by, try that too.
- Scholar: This search site takes a little bit of getting used to, but if the phone number you're looking for is related to a scholarly or research-based topic in some way, this could be a useful option.
Search by domain
Searching by domain - limiting your Web search to top level domains - can be attempted when all else fails, especially when you're looking for an educational or government-related phone number. For example, say you're looking for a contact page for the Library of Congress:
site:.gov library of congress "contact us"
You've limited your search to only a ".gov" domain, you're looking for the Library of Congress, and you're looking for the words "contact us" in immediate proximity to each other. The very first result that Google returns is a contact page for the LoC.
Reverse Lookup with Google
As of November 2010, Google no longer supports the phonebook search operator (see Reverse Phone Number Lookup for more information). However, not all hope is lost - you can still certainly use Google to find a phone number, several different ways.
A reverse phone lookup with Google can be done, but only if the number is A)not a cell phone number and B) is listed in a public directory. Type in the number you're looking for with hyphens, i.e., 555-555-1212, and Google will return a list of sites that have that number listed.