How To Search Better on Google

Tip A Day #2

Google search operators allow you to modify searches to more easily filter results and find what you’re looking for. Below are some of the most common and useful search operators you can use in Google.

1) Quotes: Put your search or part of your search in quotes to tell Google you want that exact phrase.

e.g. If my search is: Internet Marketing Expert Dallas, TX I can get more specific results by modifying my search to be “Internet Marketing Expert” Dallas, TX.

2) Exclude: To exclude a word from the search results that you don’t want use the – (minus sign) search operator.

e.g. “internet market expert” dallas, tx -houston will remove any results that also have Houston listed in them

3) Synonym: To search when you’re not sure of the exact word try ~ (tilde) before the word you also want to search on synonyms of.

e.g. ~inexpensive “internet marketing expert” dallas, tx would also bring back searches for affordable “internet marketing expert” dallas, tx

4) Wildcard: Use * (star or asterisk) to include a wildcard in your search. This can be especially powerful and is often overlooked.

e.g. Search for Results of Presidential Election Held on November * 2000 if you dont’ remember the exact date, or All * Go To Heaven (which should return All Dogs Go To Heaven)

5) Site/Domain Search:  To search only within a specific site use stats to find what the Hans Rosling Video we posted a while back on stats. Site search is really powerful when you know it’s in there somewhere but can’t find it on the site you’re surfing.

6) Link: To Find out what pages link to a url you can use to find out what sites linked to our CES 2012 coverage page.

To get really specific on the search don’t be afraid to use the search operators together.

e.g. “internet * ~expert” dallas, tx -houston (see the results of that search!!)

There are a few other google modifiers if you want to get really advanced but I find the six listed above are enough to almost always get me right to what I need.

How do you get the most out of google? Got any tips or tricks? Share them with us in the comments below.

Learn something new every day!


  1. says

    Your logic seems a bit off when you added “-houston” to your search terms – won’t that remove anyone who has “Dallas and Houston” on their page? Wouldn’t you be better off adding “+dallas”?

    • Profile photo of Scott Ellis says

      Paul – you are correct it would remove someone with “Dallas” and “Houston” but it was just an example of how the operator works. Good observation though!

      Google has deprecated the + operator in favor or just using quotes so you might do “Dallas” rather than +Dallas.

  2. says

    “link:” doesn’t work well
    Another powerful tip is searching for specific file types using “filetype:” keyword. For example, search for PDF documents. “filetype:pdf”