Be A Google Search Ninja with These 9 Tricks

Searching the internet is tricky. Looking for a common term like Apple, OS X and Mac will give you way too much information. You already know that you should get specific and descriptive. What if you still find way too many results that don’t satisfy your search? Or worse, results that have nothing to do with what you’re looking for.

Here are 9 Google tricks that will make you into a super search ninja.

1. Using Quotations (“”)

By default Google will search for whatever you type into the search bar. Each word you add to your search is added to the results. For example, searching for new york times will cause google to look for pages that contain the terms “new”, “york” and “times”, and give you 171 million results. Adding quotes “new york times” will make Google search for pages that contain only the term “new york times”, resulting in 64.9 million pages. Using quotes is a great way to cut down on irrelevant results.

2. The OR for multiple searches (OR)

The OR modifier tells Google that you want to search for one thing OR another. For example, you want a news story from either the New York Times OR the Washington post. Searching for iPhone “New York Times” OR “Washington Post” will give you iphone results that have to do with the NY TImes and results about the iPhone and the Washington post. Leave out the OR and Google returns searching about the NY Times AND the Washington Post.

3. Excluding terms (-)

What if you want to search for Apples but keep getting results about OS X and iPods when you really want to know about the fruit. You’d use the “-” modifier to tell Google not to give results containing that term. Searching for “apple -computer” will give you results about apples but not Apple computers.

4. Similar words (~)

You can tell Google to include known synonyms in your search, expanding your results. For example, “computer ~apple” will give you pages with the words “computer” and “apple”, “mac”, “Macintosh”, or oddly enough “Windows”. This is a good way to source other synonyms for what you’re looking for.

5. Fill in the blank with the wildcard (*)

Using the wildcard “*” tells Google to fill in the blank for you. Say Apple is going to release something new soon but you don’t know what it is. Or, they just released something new but you don’t know what it is. You’d search for “new Apple *” in this case.

6. Exact terms (+)

Google likes to include synonyms in search results. Searches for Mac will also include Macintosh and vice versa. If you didn’t want Google to include the synonyms, use the “+”. An example would be Apple +Mac. Without the +, Google throws “Macintosh” into the results. With it, it only returns pages containing Apple and Mac.

7. Working with numeric ranges (..)

Using the .. tells Google you want to search a range of numbers. Apple 1980..2010 will give you results containing Apple plus the numbers 1980 through 2010.

Note: In my example, the second result is Apple and 2012. The only explanation I can think of is that 2012 is a highly ranked term due to the movie and Google thinks it’s a synonym for 2000 through 2010.

8. Look within a specific site or domain (site:)

A commonly known trick is to use the site: modifier. This will return results only from a specific website. For example, to search for an article by David Pogue, you’d enter – site:nytimes.com Pogue

9. Look for a specific filetype (filetype:)

Google indexes more than just pages. You can search for Word Documents, PDFs, MP3s, Excel spreadsheets, images and much much more with the filetype: modifier. All you need to know is the file extension and search away. It’s well known that you can find some pretty good stuff via this modifier.

Bonus Tricks:

Google does more than search. It will convert measurements and currencies, track packages, give you the weather, calculate numbers, define words, and translate for you (languages are limited). If you’d like to know more, Explore Google.

3 thoughts on “Be A Google Search Ninja with These 9 Tricks

  1. Great and useful summary. Thank you!

  2. Кто ищет, тот найдет…

  3. @ Alex: 🙂