For how long have you been using Google for your daily dose of searches? It is a highly powerful search engine but since most of us search using simple text strings, finding what you want is a matter of chance. Just like any database, Google has its share of commands that you can use to not only narrow down your search, but also find exactly what you’re looking for.
The problem with the usual searching is (something like “web designers in Wisconsin”) that whereas it can solve your basic needs, it cannot handle complex searches, something like, the number of computers sold in a particular country within a particular year range. Or sometimes, you just want results from a single website, for instance NYTimes.com.
You can use this blog post as a ready reference whenever you want to find something really complex on Google.com. Here are a few such formats you can use:
Searching for exact phrase
Normally when you search you don’t use quotes, something like white bunnies. This way Google finds out everything containing white, everything containing bunnies, everything containing bunnies and white, and everything containing white bunnies, or its various combinations.
If you want to find webpages just containing white bunnies, you need to use quotes, like, “white bunnies”. This way only those webpages will be shown that actually contain the phrase “white bunnies”.
Excluding certain words
Suppose you want to find “white bunnies” but the word “America” shouldn’t appear on the pages. For this you would use the following search expression:
“white bunnies” -America
Searching within a website
Suppose you want to find all the articles that have appeared in NYTimes.com about white bunnies but the article shouldn’t contain the word America.
site: NYTimes.com “white bunnies” -America
Searching similar words or synonyms
Let us say you want to find web designers who are also bloggers or writers, or something like that. You would use the following search expression:
“web designers” ~blogger
Searching for text that is used as anchor text
This will be good for your SEO research. Suppose you want to use how many people have used “online help” as hypertext, or anchor text. You use the following search expression
Searching by file type
Are you looking for PowerPoint presentations on community-based rehabilitation? Here is how you do it:
filetype:ppt “community-based rehabilitation”
Searching text in the title
In your normal search Google finds everything whether the text appears on the webpage, in the description or within the title. Suppose you want to find some webpages that contain the phrase “business consultant” in the title. This is how you do it
allintitle: business consultant
Searching by author
Want to know what Salman Rushdie has to say about “Satanic verses”? You can search for the following
author: “Salman Rushdie” “Satanic verses”
Searching for time range
Want to find out what Salman Rushdie has said about “Satanic verses” within the years 2011 and 2012? You will do the following search
author: “Salman Rushdie” “Satanic verses” 2011..2012
Looking for definitions
Want to know what ELISA means? You search for it in the following manner:
Searching for a wildcard character
This you might already be familiar with you: remember when you search for file names but you aren’t sure of exactly what those names would be? For instance if you want to find a GIF file in a particular folder, in Windows you just search for “art*.gif”.
Something of similar sort can be done on Google search too.
“Last night * was at home”
This searches for “last night”, “was at home” and whatever lies between these two phrases.
Searching with “or” operator
If you search for “writer or blogger” it will find you webpages that contain either “writer” or “blogger”, or both. But it won’t find pages that neither contain “writer” nor “blogger”.
Using Google search for calculations
Don’t have your calculator nearby and don’t want to open another application while you are working in your browser? Simply go to Google.com and search for the calculation and it will do the job for you. For instance
can be simply searched for, for the calculation.
You can see the complete list of search expressions in terms you can use on Google search on this Google Guide link.