Everybody knows Google as a popular search engine. But how many of you know that once upon a time Google had hidden phonebook features. The Google phonebook had a database of millions of phone numbers related to local US residents and businesses.
I call it as a hidden feature since Google never actually documented its phonebook functionality explicitly on its website. But I guess this was not cool with everyone, and many felt a breach of their privacy. A huge number of people submitted requests to Google for deindexing their details from the organic search results.
As a result, in the year 2010 Google officially stopped its phonebook functionality. With the passage of time, personal phone number lookup has become an impossible task for any search provider. However, there are paid services on the internet, which claim to provide residential phone numbers.
Frankly speaking, I do not see any logic in why somebody would provide his/her number to such service for making it available to strange or unknown people? I seriously doubt the credibility of these websites.
How did Google Phonebook work?
There was no specific tool but the usual Google search window. It was all about some syntax of search queries which had to be entered in the search box for finding phone numbers. There were a couple of syntaxes which were used such as phonebook: and first name followed by the last name. For example, “phonebook: Johnny Low Houston” or even this worked “phone book: Jonny Low Houston”.
There were a couple of more search criteria such as First name last name city state, First name last name state, First name last name area code and First name last name zip code. A typical example was “Tom Usly New York NY”.
All the above examples may not work now as they are outdated. But even today, if you want to search for some business phone number then you can try business name followed by state or city name. For example, “Best Furniture TX”. You can even try above search criteria for getting business landline numbers.
Google can still perform successful search based on a phone number
Even today, Google can help you discover phone number details provided the number meets specific criteria.
- The phone number should be a landline number.
- The landline number should be a part of the public directory.
If the telephone number meets the above conditions, then Google will return results in the form of name and contact details. This method is also known as reverse phone lookup. However, if you are looking for more information related to a personal number or mobile number, then you will be disappointed with the Google results as it consists of third-party paid services.
Free substitute for Google phone book
I will not recommend you to go to any third-party website or service which charges money for providing phone number details. There are mainly two reasons. First, you do not want to provide your financial information on a website which is not legit (there are many spam websites in this category). Second, most of the time you require to fill in your details and even a slight imagination would resist you from doing this on a website which stores similar information.
Still, there couple of free websites, such as whitepages, anywho and spydialer, which provides details based on name, phone number and address. In all these sites, you neither have to provide your contact details nor any credit card details.
Innovative ways to contact people even if you do not have phone number
Nobody is spared from social media magic. We are more connected than ever before and guess what, you are carrying social media world in your pocket in the form of a smartphone. Then why not use it for contacting people even if you do not know their contact details.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Skype, etc. are some of the most popular social media platforms and it would not be wrong to start your search from here. Most of the time, you only require username or email to search for people.
Here, people do share their phone number on their social media accounts. But most of the time, it is only visible to friends and family. The best approach to contact someone is by looking for some mutual connection to introduce yourself. Otherwise, you can contact them via a private message.