Whether you’re shopping, doing research, or just looking to settle a debate with friends, Google is often the first place we turn to for answers. But with billions of results at our fingertips, finding the information we need can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks and tips you can use to make your Google search more efficient and effective. Here are a few of the best tricks to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Search a website for exact keywords
Some websites don’t have great built-in search functions, which can make it hard to find something you’re searching for on that particular site. Google, being the sophisticated search engine that it is, can do just this.
The search query you use is site:website.com keywords. So, for example, if you want to search PCWorld for “security,” you’d enter:
Example search query: site:pcworld.com security
The search results will return pages that have “security” in them, as well as keyword variations such as “secure.”
Search for an exact phrase
You can narrow your search down by prompting Google to return results that contain exact keyword matches. This is useful if you don’t know which site you want to find the content on, but know which phrase you’re looking for. To do this, you just need to put the words you want the exact match for in quotation marks.
For example, if you want to return results that contain the exact phrase “punched paper tape reader”, then you’d enter:
Example search query: “punched paper tape reader”
This will only return results that contain the exact same words in the exact same order as what you put in quotes. So it won’t return results that contain just “punched tape” or “paper tape.”
Find items between a certain price range
This search query is perfect for those who are looking for a product within a certain budget. This search allows you to tell Google that you want it to return results of an item that falls within a specific price range by placing two periods between the numbers. This saves you time from looking through items that are way over budget by excluding them from the search—or at least the top results.
For example, if you want to search for flash drives that cost between $10 and $45, you’d search:
Example search query: flash drives $10..$45
This may also return pages that have expensive flash drives on them, but also have flash drives in the price range you are looking for.
Exclude certain words from a search
If you want to search for something, but that search term is dominated by a brand, you can exclude that brand from the search results by adding a hyphen next to it.
For example, if you’re wanting to look at laptops, but you don’t want Dell laptops in the search results, you’d enter:
Example search query: laptops -dell
Dell laptops will be excluded from the search, but this doesn’t apply to ads in the search results. So if Dell is running an ad campaign for “laptops”, their ads will still appear at the top of the search results.
Search for a certain file type
The web is full of content. This can make it difficult to find certain documents, as the results will often be different web pages, images, and so on. But, you can narrow your search down by telling Google to only return results of a specific file type by using the filetype: prompt.
For example, if you want to find Ford’s annual reports in PDF format, you’d search:
Example search query: Ford annual reports filetype:pdf
Now, all of the search results are PDF files.
Perform multiple search queries at the same time
You can be an efficient Google searcher by performing multiple search queries at once. To do this, you just need to add OR between the two searches. This will provide results of both search queries, but both search queries won’t necessarily appear in the same result—they’ll be mixed in.
For example, if you want to search for both “Best 1 TB HDD” or “Best 1 TB SSD” at the same time, you’d enter:
Example search query: “Best 1TB HDD” OR “Best 1TB SSD”
The order you put the keywords in doesn’t have an effect on the results. So, putting “Best 1 TB HDD” before or after OR will make no difference.
Get results for multiple keywords
This search trick is similar to the OR search, but instead, you’ll use AND to return results that contain both keywords in the search—not just one or the other.
So, if you wanted to find pages that had results for both “Best 1 TB HDD” and “Best 1 TB SSD” on the same page, you’d enter:
Example search query: “Best 1TB HDD” AND “Best 1TB SSD”
Pages that contain one of the keywords but not the other are omitted from the results.
Find results published before or after a certain date
If you’ve ever searched for something and felt flustered because the results were outdated or too new, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you can use before:<date> and after:<date> to filter out the results.
So, if you wanted results for tips for efficiently working from home, but you only wanted to see articles on the topic that were posted after 2021, then you’d enter:
Example search query: tips for efficiently working from home after:2021
Only articles posted after 2021 will appear. Alternatively, if you wanted to search for tips for efficiently working from home before 2020, when working remotely still seemed like a fantasy of a distant future, then you’d search:
Example search query: tips for efficiently working from home before:2020
Only articles posted prior to 2020 will appear in the results.
Find content that links to another site
This trick is less known, and can only really be used in certain situations, like if you’re curious about who cited an article on a different website. For example, if you’re wanting to see which websites have linked back to pcworld.com, you’d enter:
Example search query: link:pcworld.com
This is obviously a broad example, but you can put any url you want in the query, even specific articles.