We all use Google (or DuckDuckGo) countless times a month to search for information, shopping deals, movie times, dirt on someone, etc.
But chances are you’re using – without knowing it – a crude Neanderthal version of Google search … and not getting nearly as fast and accurate results as you could.
Specifically, Google has a number of powerful search terms which will instantly supercharge your searches …
Search by Date
When most people search, they get results from webpages which were posted over the span of years … or decades.
You can easily narrow your search to the exact dates you want …
Google has just launched the ability to use “before” and “after” tags. Just type “before:” or “after:” to specify dates.
For example, let’s say you want to search for webpages about the Olympics posted between February 27, 1999 and February 27, 2000. Just type the following:
olympics after:1999-02-27 before:2000-02-27
If you just use the year – without specifying month or day – it will use January 1st of the year you specify.
olympics after:1999 before:2000
will yield webpages posted between January 1, 1999 and January 1, 2000. And you can use “before” or “after” on their own … you don’t have to use them together.
If you instead want to specify search results posted within the last day, week, month, year, etc., you can copy and paste the following to the end of the url:
&tbs=rltm:1 [real time results]
&tbs=qdr:s [past second]
&tbs=qdr:n [past minute]
&tbs=qdr:h [past hour]
&tbs=qdr:d [past 24 hours (day)]
&tbs=qdr:w [past week]
&tbs=qdr:m [past month]
&tbs=qdr:y [past year]
(don’t include the bracketed phrase; that’s just an explanation)
For example, if your Google search results for a search just using the word “Olympics” and using Firefox as your browser pulls up close to a billion results and you see this in your url box:
Just paste “&tbs=qdr:m” to the end of your url, so it looks like this:
(Google search result urls will look different if you’re using different browsers. For example, Chrome and Internet Explorer will give you strings of numbers in the url. That’s irrelevant. The only thing which matters is to paste the appropriate date expression to the end of whatever search result url you get.)
If you are looking for the latest updates concerning breaking events, sports, etc., then using search expressions for last second, minute or hour will only show you the very latest news. Try it!
Exact Versus Open-Ended Searches
By default, Google searches for all the words which contain your search term, as well as (at times) synonyms.
For example, if you search for “perc”, it will pull up search results containing the words “perc”, “perchloroethylene”, “percutaneous”, etc.
If you only want results containing the exact word “perc”, then type that it quotation marks:
If you type a phrase or name in quotes, you’ll only pull up that exact search result. For example, typing “United States of Africa” will only pull up that exact phrase (capitalization doesn’t matter).
You can also type a combo of exact and open-ended searches. For example:
propose “United States of Africa”
will bring up webpages containing the words “propose”, “proposed”, “proposal” etc. and “United States of Africa”.
Distance Between Words
You can control how far apart your search terms are in the webpages. For example, including an asterisk between search terms will bring up webpages where there are 1 to 4 words between those terms. Google treats the asterisk as a placeholder for 1 to 4 whole words.
For example, typing:
Obama voted * on the * bill
Will bring up all results where there are 1-4 words between “voted” and “on”, and 1-4 words between “the” and “bill.
Putting quotation marks at the beginning and end of the search expression will bring up exact quotes where there are 1-4 words in between each asterisk. For example:
“Americans say that * is their favorite * “
You can also use the AROUND(x) search operator to perform more precise searches (all caps). x is the number of words apart your search terms are in the webpage.
United AROUND(3) Africa
will bring up webpages where the term “United” is around 3 words away from the word “Africa”, including “United Bank of Africa”, “United Returns to Africa”, “United States of Africa”, etc.
Search In Specific Places
Google has a number of search operators to let you search in specific places.
“site:” allows you to search the pages of a specific website. For example:
pulls up only pages within the WashingtonsBlog.com website containing the word “America”.
You can focus on subdomains of a give site, such as:
Would pull up only webpages containing the word “China” within WashingtonsBlog’s general information subdomain.
You can also use “site” to limit your search to specific top-level domains, such as only .gov, .org or .edu sites. For example:
will pull up only .edu websites containing the word “listeria”
You can also specify where your search terms appear in the webpage … in the title of the webpage, the main text, or the url.
inurl:disgrace “kevin spacey”
Will pull up websites containing the word “disgrace” in the url itself, and the words “Kevin Spacey” in the website.
“intitle:” will bring up the search term in the title of the piece, and “intext:” will bring up the word anywhere in the main text of the website.
Adding “all” at the beginning of the search operator means all of the search terms are in the area specified. For example:
allinurl:durant “calf injury”
Brings up only webpages where all of the words “durant” and “calf injury” appear in the url.
And you can combine the concepts, for example:
inurl:durant intitle:injury intext:”expected to play”
You can also pull up only certain types of files by using “filetype:”. For example:
Pulls up only pdf files about durant.
(You can also specify the country and language being searched. To do that, you have to click “Settings” and then “Search Settings”)
Ranges and Prices
You can find anything within a range of numbers by using 2 dots. For example:
1968..1975 “Academy awards”
Will bring up websites including the phrase “Academy awards” and at least one of the years between 1968 and 1975. This works for any range of numbers.
Adding the dollar sign brings up websites with the amount you specify. For example:
Brings up bicycles which cost between $100 and $200.
And, Or and Not
By default, Google understands spaces between search terms as meaning that you want to search for all of them. If you want, however, you can add “AND” (all caps) to stress you want to include them all.
OR (all caps) brings up alternatives. For example:
Jefferson OR Washington
Brings up search results containing either the name Jefferson or Washington.
You can also use combinations, such as:
(Washington OR Lincoln) AROUND(5) “best president”
You can also exclude search terms by including a minus sign before the term. For example:
United -America -airlines
Brings up webpages containing the word “united” but not “America” or “airlines”.
You can also use the minus sign to exclude other parameters. For example:
torture “soviet union” -site:CNN.com
Will bring up sites discussing torture in the Soviet Union, but will exclude all webpages from CNN.com.
Similarly, if you want to exclude all sites regarding torture which do not have a secured https connection, you could type:
The real Google power user will experiment with mixing, matching and combining these effective search options.