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Google Research Made Easy: Advanced Searching in Google

Google Search Tips, Tricks and Hacks

One of the largest hurdles of using Google is the amount you must weed through. Manipulate your Google search with a couple hacks to retrieve a more relevant set of results.

  • site:XXXX  This search tells Google to limit your search to a particular site or domain.  For instance, if you limit to you would only search the Berkeley site.  Similarly site:gov would search only sites ending in .gov, and site:edu would search only sites ending in .edu.
  • -XXXX  Adding a minus/hyphen sign "-" to a term will remove results with that term.  This can be very helpful when removing common words associated with your topic.
  • filetype:XXXX  Using filetype: will only find certain file extensions (.doc, .pdf, .xcl, etc)
  • "XXX XXXX" Putting double quotes around a phrase will find only that phrase.
  • XXX OR XXXX Google's default is to look for all the words in your search. Using OR (must be capitalized) will allow you to look for any one or more of the words.
  • cache:XXXX  Retrieves an older version of the page from Google's cache
  • link:XXXX  Will list sites that link back to a specific URL
  • info:XXXX Will retrieve information about a URL, including a cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.

You can also combine some of these search hacks, such as adding to remove results from the New York Times website.  More search tricks can be found at this link.

Using the Advanced Search

The advanced search page can be helpful if you don't remember all the search opeators. Most of the advanced features are supported here.

Under Settings you can also find the option to customize your Search Settings, such as changing the number of results displayed on the search results pages, having clicked links opened up in new browser window, and filtering results with "Safe Search."

Refining the Search

There are many other ways to manipulate your search within Google:

  • Word order--add your search terms in the order you think they will appear on the page
  • Wildcard--an asterisk "*" can substitute for a word in a phrase
  • Synonyms-- use a tilda: ~ in front of a word to find terms that Google thinks are synonyms for your term.
  • Stemming-- Google will automatically stem a word (stem will find stems, stemming, stemmer, etc) unless you put a plus symbol "+" in front of it.
  • Common words-- Drop superfluous words such as and, but, this, that, etc from your search.  Google will ignore them anyway so save time and don't type them.

More search operators

define: Identify the meaning of words  [define:tipping point]. A dictionary search function appears along with the result.
stock: retrieve financial information [stock:GOOG]
{area code}: find a location for an area code  [206]
{conversion tool}: enter a currency or measurement conversion [8 ounces in cups]
{calculator}: enter a mathematical expression [555 * 556]
tip calculator: will bring up a tip calculator
timer {amount of time}: the countdown will begin automatically
stopwatch: will bring up a stopwatch you cam start when you are ready
{package tracking ID}, {flight number}
time in {location}: will display local time and date for any location [time in amsterdam]
weather in {location}: will display weater forecast for a given location [weather in boston]
flights {to/from location}: will display for a destination a table of outbound or inbound flights [flights oakland (flights to oakland) or flights from oakland]
translate [word] to [language]: quick way of translating a word or simple phrase [translate krankenwagen to english]