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How to improve your Google searching
Written by Alex Ashman   

google logoGoogle currently dominates the search engine market and looks set to continue to do so in the near future especially with millions of people having Google set as their homepage. Given that so many use Google for so many reasons, this tutorial should help you be more efficient with your searching.

Country Specific Search

Google provides on its index page the option to search just within your particular country, which is often very useful, for example place names of course exist in different countries, so searching for "Hampshire" and "pages within the UK" should ensure no results are related to New Hampshire in the US. Google already tailors results relative to your residing country, but this can further narrow down your search.

Google Advanced Search

An obvious place to start and one that is often overlooked is to click on the advanced search link just next to the box where you enter your topic to search for. This page can be very useful, especially if you know you are searching within a very broad topic. It includes the options for 'all of the words', 'exact phrase', 'at least one of the words' and 'without the words' as well as language options, regional searches and dates among others.

Google Searching Quick Tips

Some of the options available from the advanced search page are available as shortcuts by using of some of the following characters with your search. I have also included some other useful tricks that are less commonly used, but that can proved very useful in filtering search results.

"Definition Search"

Google can provide you with useful web-sourced definitions to terms by using the following search - "define: consulting". This brings up a page with different definitions and the websites that they have been taken from.

"Quotation Mark" Search

Placing quotation marks around your search keywords ensures that the words are searched as a complete phrase. This is perhaps most useful when searching for someone s name. Using "John Smith" in quotation marks ensures pages are found that have both terms, and not all the pages that contain John and all the pages that contain Smith. This performs the same function as the "+" search.

"File Type" Search

It is possible to refine your Google search so that only certain file types are shown in the search results. Adding in "filetype:" is the text to enter. An example would be "economic development in India filetype:pdf", given that offical and academic reports often are in pdf format, this could ensure your search results are of a higher quality and more reliable.

"Or" Search

Makes Google search for pages that contain both or either of the chosen words. For "example flats london or paris" would give you results that had "flats in london" or "flats in paris"

"Synonym" Search

To search for synonyms of a work, use the ~ before your word. Such an example would be "~internet ~facts" yields results about internet statistics, trivia, databases etc.

"Fill in the Blanks" Search

If you need an answer to a question you can use an * where the words or answer are missing. For example "* is the queen of england", or "George Bush was born in *"

"Domain" Search

If a certain site doesn't have great searching facilities, or you just want to save time you can rely on google to show you all a site s indexed pages. Searching for "business site:bbc.co.uk" shows all pages that are within the bbc.co.uk site that are related to business.

"+" Search

To improve the speed of searching and the accuracy of results, Google excludes common words such as to, when, where etc. If these are essential to your search to narrow it, there is a solution - by adding in the "+" before the word you want to include. Entering "Back to the Future +3" would ensure only sites that are talking about the 3rd film would show up.

"-" Search

Including a "-" sign in your search rather obviously excludes the terms you want. If you know you are likely to receive results from online shops it may make sense to include "-store" or "-merchant" with your other keywords.

"Numrange" Search

Google neatly allows you to search within certain data ranges if you tell it to by using two full stops (or periods if you are American) and no space. For example - "Coldplay CD £5.. £8". This type of search is perhaps sometimes useful, although I have personally found this to be the most limited of Google s extra search features.

Comments (6)Add Comment
David Towers
David Towers
January 31, 2008
Votes: +1

This post by Philipp Lenssen is interesting:

By using the tilde character you can trigger a search for synonyms (also referred to as “related words” operator). In the post, Philipp does this search in Google:


And it brings up a wikipedia article on cults as the third result!

February 03, 2008
Votes: +0

From an SEO check point of view, use site:www.example.com to see how Google indexed your website.

David Towers
David Towers
February 04, 2008
Votes: +0

Thanks for that Hummerbie, you're right it's an important search technique.

On that note, let's also add these to the list:

link:www.example.com - Pages that link to your site's front page
cache:www.example.com - The current cache of your site
info:www.example.com - Information that Google have about your site
related:www.example.com - Pages that are similar to your site

Alex Ashman
Alex Ashman
February 24, 2008
Votes: +0

yeah those are useful too! the more info you can gain about your site the better!

December 07, 2008
Votes: +0


need this article now

I am now do the seo for my website

January 17, 2011
Votes: +0

Alex Ashman,

Great tutorial about Google Searching,

Most of them i used except last three search facility,

But now will definitely check,

Nice tutorial.

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