[an error occurred while processing this directive] Google Guide: Power Googling: Selecting Search Terms & Crafting Your Queries Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier
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Power Googling: Selecting Search Terms & Crafting Your Query

The search terms you enter and the order in which you enter them affect

Use words likely to appear on the pages you want.

[ salary negotiation tips ]
[ sciatica ]
[ window treatments ]

USE [ Australia Target store ]
NOT [ Does Australia have Target ]

Avoid using words that you might associate with your topic, but you wouldn't expect to find on the designated page(s).

USE [ lasik eye surgery ]
NOT [ documentation on lasik eye surgery ]

USE [ jobs product marketing Sunnyvale ]
NOT [ listings of product marketing jobs in Sunnyvale ]

Be specific: Use more query terms to narrow your results.

Does your query have enough specific information for Google to determine unambiguously what you're seeking?

USE [ Java Indonesia ], [ java coffee ], or [ java programming language ]
NOT [ java ]

How can you come up with more specific search terms?

Consider answers to the questions, who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, and how?

Add a term that distinguishes among them.

USE [ Tom Watson MP ], [ Tom Watson golf ], or [ Tom Watson IBM ]
NOT [ Tom Watson ]

Be brief.

For best results, use a few precise words.

USE [ quit smoking program ]
NOT [ program on quitting tobacco cigarette smoking addiction ]

You don't have to correct your spelling.

There's a good chance that Google will recognize your mistakes and suggest alternative more common spellings.

When you enter: [ Anna Kornikova tennis ]
Google responds: Did you mean: Anna Kournikova tennis

To search for a phrase, a proper name, or a set of words in a specific order, put them in double quotes.

A query with terms in quotes (" ") finds pages containing the exact quoted phrase.

Find pages mentioning Google's co-founder Larry Page.

[ "Larry Page" ]

Find pages containing

  • "Larry Page"
  • "Larry has a home page"
  • "Larry E. Page"
  • "Congressional page Larry Smith"

[ Larry Page ]

A quoted phrase is the most widely used type of special search syntax.

[ "what you're looking for is already inside you" Anne Lamott speech ]

Force Google to include a term by surrounding it with double quotes.

"The" Onion ]

Precede each term you do not want to appear in any result with a "-" sign.

The - sign indicates that you want to subtract or exclude pages that contain a specific term.

Do not put a space between the - and the word.

USE [ dolphins -football ]
NOT [ dolphins  - football ]

Search for a twins support group in Minnesota, but exclude pages with the word "baseball".

[ twins support group Minnesota -baseball ]

You can exclude more than one term.

Find pages on "salsa" but not the dance nor dance classes.

[ salsa -dance -class ]

Find synonyms by preceding the term with a ~, which is known as the tilde or synonym operator.

The tilde (~) operator takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word and for the word's synonyms. It also searches for the term with alternative endings.

Put the ~ (tilde) next to the word, with no spaces between the ~ and its associated word.

USE [ ~lightweight laptop ]
NOT [ ~ lightweight laptop ]

Why does Google use tilde? In math, the "~" symbol means "is similar to".

The tilde tells Google to search for pages that are synonyms or similar to the term that follows.

~inexpensive ] matches "inexpensive," "cheap," "affordable," and "low cost"
[ ~run ] matches "run," "runner's," "running," as well as "marathon"

Looking for a guide, help, tutorial, or tips on using Google?

google ~guide ]

Interested in food facts as well as nutrition and cooking information?

[ ~food ~facts ]

The synonym operator tends not to work well on infrequently-used query terms.

[ ~cockroach ]

If you don't like the synonyms that Google suggests when you use the ~ operator, specify your own synonyms with the OR operator, which I describe next.

Specify synonyms or alternative forms with an uppercase OR or | (vertical bar).

[ Tahiti OR Hawaii ]
[ Tahiti | Hawaii ]

[ blouse OR shirt OR chemise ]
[ blouse | shirt | chemise ]

Note: If you write OR with a lowercase "o" or a lowercase "r," Google interprets the word as a search term instead of an operator.

Note: Unlike OR, a | (vertical bar) need not be surrounded by spaces.

Use quotes (" ") to group compound words and phrases together.

[ filter OR stop "junk email" OR spam ]
[ "New Zealand"
OR "Ivory Coast" holiday OR vacation package ]

Specify that results contain numbers in a range by specifying two numbers, separated by two periods, with no spaces.

recumbent bicycle $250..$1000 ]

Find the year the Russian Revolution took place.

Russian Revolution 1800..2000 ]

This table summarizes how to use the basic search operators, described on this page. You may include any of these operators multiple times in a query.

Notation Find result Example
terms1 terms2 with both term1 and term2 [ carry-on luggage ]
term1 OR term2
term1 | term2
with either term1 or term2 or both [ Tahiti OR Hawaii ]
[ Tahiti | Hawaii ]
"phrase"  with the exact phrase, a proper name, or a set of words in a specific order [ "I have a dream" ]
[ "Rio de Janeiro" ]
"term" with term (The quotation marks operator, " ", is used around stop words that Google would otherwise ignore or when you want Google to return only pages that match your search terms exactly.) [ "i" spy ]
-term without term [ twins minnesota -baseball ]
~term with term or one of its synonyms
(currently supported on Web and Directory search)
[ google ~guide ]
number1..number2 with a number in the specified range
annual report 2000..2003 ]

This page was last modified on Monday February 27, 2012.


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