Search’s learning curve is an odd one. You use it every day, but still all you know is how to search. But the search engine has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
Here’s an overview of some of the most useful cool google tricks, from basic tips to new features just recently released.
1.Exact Phrase: double quote
Search for a exact sequence of words, not only for the pages which e.g. contain each of your search words in a different sentence.
Assuming you are trying to find sites about ‘transition words’. Instead of typing [transition words] into the search box, you will likely be better off searching for the exact phrase. To do so, enclose the search phrase within double quotes.
Remark: for popular searches the double quotes are not really needed, but they can be a great help to find specific terms (e.g. combination of given name and family name, product identifications, fragments from song texts, rare movie titles, etc.).
2. Search for a Range
If you are looking for a product in a specific price range use ‘..’. The example below will search the web for the pages with the text ‘Blackberry Playbook’, and a price range from $150 to $350.
Blackberry Playbook $150..$350
This also works for years (like 2010..2012) and any other kind of number range.
3. Exclude Words
You can exclude pages from your result list by puuting a minus (-) directly in fromt of the keyword which you do not want to search for. This also works with more than one exclusion and with domain names.
ebooks -books.google.com -amazon.com
smart jokes -laughter -video
This search query can be helpful to eliminate all those annoying price comparison sites:
Blackberry Playbook -shop
And it can be long, real long – just click, it is easier to see:
synonyms for easy difficult -thesaurus.com -synonym.com -yourdictionary.com -infoplease.com -merriam-webster.com -.macmillandictionary.com -answers.com
Use the ‘site:’ operator to search only within a certain website. For instance, if you are looking for book reviews, try the following: This can also be combined with the ‘OR’ operator.
site:economist.com new fiction review 2012..2012
The ‘site’ operator alone, with any additional keyword, will list all the sites in the index (importamt for Webmasters), and also displays the total number of pages (About 200.000 (June 2012) in the Simple English Wikipedia).
The ‘site’ operator also works with TDLs (= top level domains), e.g. edu, com, org. The example below will show results with the word ‘quotes’ when the domain ending is ‘edu’.
5. Synonyms / Similar Words
Use the ‘~’ (tilde) operator to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. In the SERPs, you can see the synonyms in bold, e.g. ‘building’; the keyword “house” was excluded to get rid of the TV Series ‘House, M.D.’
6. OR / Parenthesis
The ‘OR’ (needs to be capitalized, otherwise the engine will simply search for the preposition ‘or’ within the text) is the same as the pipe symbol ‘|’. Instead of using the default Boolean AND Google will now look for any of the keywords.
Parenthesis ‘(‘ … ‘)’ are used for grouping. They can be used anywhere, but are mostly useful with the logical ‘OR’.
tie red OR blue
(tiny | little | small) (notebooks | laptops)
The asterisk ‘*’ sign can be used as a wildcard. Again, only useful for not so popular search strings, since Google knows the popular ones “by heart”.
"* part of the solution * precipitate"
Besides normal web pages in HTML format, Google also indexes .pdf (Adobe), .doc (Word), .xls (Excel), .ppt (PowerPoint) and .jpg (Image) files. The result list (SERP) can be limited to a specific filetype, with the help of the ‘filetype’ operator.
transition words filetype:pdf
9. Word Definitions
The mark-up language HTML allows its content to structured. For example, the <dl> tag defines a definition list. These can be found by use of the ‘define’ command. However, there is no guarantee, that the author of the website uses the <dl> tag for definitions! Examples how the definition tag is used for the mark-up of definitions, can be found here.
There are 2 URL parameters (as is ‘q’ for the search terms – you can see it by having a close look at the URL in the examples) which control the output of the search.
- retrieves ‘number’ n of results; Default: 10; Possible values: if q present [1,100], otherwise [1, 30]
- OFFSET: retrieves results starting from OFFSET. NUM plus OFFSET must be less than 1000, otherwise you will get zero results. Requires q
11. Search Suggestions
For popular search terms, a list with search suggestions (Related Seraches) is displayed at the bottom of the SERP page.