Pro guide to Google searches. Part I

January 28th, 2007

We all use Google every day, quite a few times a day even and most of us are very pleased with it. But are the results to your searches always that relevant!? Often you find irrelevant results and it takes you longer than it should to find what you want. But is this because of Google’s faulty search algorithms or is it because sometimes our searches can be ambiguous?

Well whatever the case after the Gmail search article I decided to expand the subject a little. I know some things you will find here you already know and some of them might be new for you. Anyway you can consider them as a reminder of what searching on Google really means.

I will start with the basic syntax that I am sure all of you know, but it’s the basis for further more complex syntax. For example:

You can search whole phrases by using quotes like “Rose Chappel” instead of plain Rose Chappel. The first query searches for the Rose Chappel and the second searches for the words Rose and Chappel.

I presume you also know about word exclusion, when you want to exclude a certain term from your search: PS3 -price. This will exclude all the results that contain the word ‘price’. You can do this with phrases also: PS3 -“technical specifications”. Note that there must be no space between ‘-‘ and the word to exclude.

What you must know is that Google excludes by default some common terms like I, of, the, etc. If you ever need to make Google include a given term all you need to do is put a ‘+’ in front of it: +the tower. Note that, when words like these are included within a phrase search they are automatically included like: “the tower”.

Now lets talk about some more complex searches whit ‘AND’ & ‘OR’. By default Google includes all the terms in the search but you can specify that one word OR the other should be searched. To do this insert the capitalized OR in your queries: expensive (red OR green) dress. You can also replace the OR with “|” the so called ‘pipe’ symbol. Needless to say that you can use OR with exact phrase searches: “complete idiot”|”total idiot”.

Speaking of synonyms you can ask Google to search synonyms of a certain word you search by using the ‘~’ key. For example: ~wood is going to search for both wood, woods, forest, etc.

Another interesting trick that I’m not sure many of you knew about implies ranges of numbers. Say you want to purchase a computer monitor with a diagonal of 17” to 20” and a price ranging from $1000 to $1500, you can use: monitor 17..20 “price 1000..1500”. The ‘..’ operand tells Google that you are referring to a range of numbers, for the same example you can use monitor 17..20 “price ..1500” to say the top price should be $1500.

Finally, to keep this article within reasonable margins I will conclude with the word wildcards. Google permits you to use wildcards in order to replace a part of word or even a whole word: sea* in order to search for seafood, seaside, seasick, etc. Also you can use ‘*’ to substitute whole words, such as: expensive “* dress” and you will find red, blue, short, ugly,etc dress. Keep in mind you can do this with several words by using more ‘*’ marks: the ** hood, so you can find the red riding hood.

As I was telling you at the beginning this might be common knowledge but it makes the basis of more complex searches you will find in Part II so stay tuned!

EDIT: Find more in Part II.

Featured Tags ,

Sphere this entry»


  1. Davezilla:

    My favorite operators on Google are:
    weather: (followed by ZIP Code or City/State and
    DTW PHL (any two airport codes) will return prices for that trip and a field to enter starting and ending dates!

  2. Tester:

    Also the search can be done for particulay file types
    Windows filetype:ppt so that it will search for only files types which are presentations

  3. Zach Grosser:

    How do you make your website more likely to come up on google searches?

  4. ciops:

    @Zach: Search the web for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips. We will host a few articles on SEO soon enough. Stay tuned :)

  5. ciops:

    Here’s a start

  6. mhhhhhhmmm....:

    wildcards are back??

  7. anonymous:

    No, wildcards don’t work the way you say, there’s only stemming :(

    “Does Google support wildcard searches?

    A wildcard in a Google search query can be indicated by an asterisk and will match one or more entire words of text so that the query matches a contiguous sequence of words. For example, a search for [ cooking * classes ] will match the phrases “cooking school classes” and “cooking and wine tasting classes.” One common use of the asterisk is to fill in the blanks for a query that corresponds to a question: [ the parachute was invented by * ]. Also, more than one asterisk can be used, such as [ vitamin * is good for * ].

    Currently, Google doesn’t support searches in which an asterisk indicates a fraction or extension of a word: [ flower * classes ] will not match “flowerful classes.” However, we do use stemming technology. When appropriate, Google will search not only for your search terms, but also for words that are similar to some or all of those terms. If you search for [ pet lemur dietary needs ], Google will also search for [ pet lemur diet needs ] and other related variations of your terms.

    To learn more about refining your search technique, please visit and

  8. anonymous:

    So, Google won’t find “seafood, seaside, seasick” if you enter “sea*” because it’s not the typical wildcard search.

  9. Vidal:

    Search Hacker does this trick too, but can be used to find variety of file formats like wav, mp3, doc, cvs, wma, mpg, xls, zip, mid, mpeg, pdf, rar, avi, mov, txt and torrents. I tried Search Hacker and it works, but some results return errors. Can’t blame Search Hacker for that, just skip and try another result.

    Search Hacker has a sister site called Cam Hacker which can be used for searching unprotected live webcams. Search Hacker deservers to be in your bookmarks, however, if you are a hard working sucker, then you can try searching the hard way.

  10. ali:

    My favorite operators on Google are:
    weather: (followed by ZIP Code or City/State and
    DTW PHL (any two airport codes) will return prices for that trip and a field to enter starting and ending dates!

  11. bushra:

    nice site

Allowed XHTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please post your comment in English only so we can all understand. Comments in other languages (excepting trackbacks) will be declined. Also, comments containing foul language or offensive words will be censored or declined as well.