I couldn’t find my pants without Google. Well, perhaps this is a slight exaggeration. But when I’m looking for answers, my natural instinct is to ask the big G.
I recently shared a post on some of the nifty Easter Eggs (hidden features) in Google Search. Now I’d like to show you how to search Google like a boss using search operators.
A search operator (sometimes referred to as a search parameter) is a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search. In a nutshell, by including one or two extra elements in your search query, you can hone in on specific results faster. It sounds complicated, but using search operators couldn’t be easier.
These are some examples of search operators you can use with Google.
Search social media
Put @ in front of a word to search social media. For example, @twitter.
Search for a price
Put $ in front of a number. For example, camera $400.
Put # in front of a word. For example, #throwbackthursday
Exclude/include words from your search
Put – in front of a word you want to leave out.
For example, if you were searching for information about Sydney, but didn’t want your results to be polluted by information about the city’s unaffordable housing, you could search for the following:
This would return results for “Sydney”, while removing any that feature the word “housing”.
Using + forces Google to return common words that might ordinarily be discarded. For example, Vegemite +and toast
Search for an exact match
Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, “tallest building”.
Search for wildcards or unknown words
Put a * in your word or phrase where you want to leave a placeholder. For example, “largest * in the world”.
This is particularly useful for when you only half remember shit (like song lyrics).
Search within a range of numbers
Put .. between two numbers. For example, camera $50..$100.
Put “OR” between each search query. For example, marathon OR race.
Search for a specific site
Put “site:” in front of a site or domain. For example, site:youtube.com or site:.gov.
Search for related sites
Put “related:” in front of a web address you already know. For example, related:time.com.
Get details about a site
Put “info:” in front of the site address.
See Google’s cached version of a site
Put “cache:” in front of the site address.
Adding a tilde ~ to a search word tells Google that you want it to bring back synonyms for the term as well. For example, entering “~technology” will bring back results that include words like “automation”, “machinery” and “robotics” which are all synonyms of “technology”.
allintitle: (and also intitle:)
Searches only for sites with the given word(s) in the page title. Intitle: does the same thing but for single words and can be used with more flexibility.
The results would show pages with just “car” in the page title, and with “automatic” elsewhere.
allintext: (and also intext:)
This operator searches only for sites where the given word(s) are in the text of the page.
allinurl (and also inurl:)
This one fetches results where the keywords are in the URL. This is useful if you’ve forgotten the exact URL of a website, but can still remember bits of it.
For example, allinurl social examiner brings up socialmediaexaminer.com
allinpostauthor: (and also inpostauthor:)
Exclusive to blog search, this one picks out blog posts that are written by specific individuals.
Will mostly return pages for pubs that are in Sydney. Very cool.
For example, define:habitat will return definitions from different websites.
This lets you search for a certain filetype.
For example, type:pdf will bring back only PDF results.
You can also search for specific file types in Google Drive the same way, which I find to be a huge time-saver.
Will bring back results both for Sydney pages on weather websites, as well as a little weather widget at the top of the results page.
Of course, most of the time Google knows what you mean or are looking for anyway, so search parameters aren’t always necessary. But, for power users, these operators can make your search queries all the more convenient. The hardest part is remembering them.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.