When most people think of using a search engine, the name “Google” is usually synonymous with getting the most relevant results. There are other search engines available, but Google still holds the lion’s share of the market. There are also ways to craft a particular search to really narrow down the results to be exactly what you’re looking for. In fact, there are so many ways to do this, that using these methods is nearly worthy of being a programming language all of its own. In addition to common search results, there are also a few other neat little tricks that we’ll get into later on that can help save time and a lot of headache, but first, we’ll start with the basics.
Depending on what you’re looking for, sometimes the results can be ambiguous. The first method to narrowing searches is to use quotation marks around specific phrases you’re looking for in a result.
For instance, instead of typing something like:
nasa space pictures solar system
nasa space pictures “solar system”
Usually, the more words that are in quotations, the more narrow the search result will be, as it encompasses less general data and instead focuses on more specific data as a contextual guidline. These searches can be further narrowed downby using specific keywords (AND, OR, NOT) in caps, but it’s often easier to use their shorter notations (+, -, |) respectively. Using the last example above, we’ll illustrate how these work.
Using the aforementioned search term, we can expand the results to include either nasa space pictures OR “solar system”:
nasa space pictures | “solar system”
To add an additional search result to the original query, we’ll opt to omit pictures of the Sun, or add them, depending on which term we’re looking to include:
nasa space pictures “solar system” –Sun nasa space pictures “solar system” +Sun
Wildcards and synonyms can also be included in these parameters as well. A wildcard is represented by the * (asterisk) symbol, and synonyms are used before the word that’s to be used with ~. To illustrate how this works, we’ll create another search query, and afterwards, translate it to a more human readable format.
nasa space pictures “solar system“ –Sun
* space ~pictures “solar system“ –Sun
Which translates to ANY space (pictures, images, etc) “solar system” NOT Sun.
How these additional search parameters are implemented is entirely up to the user to decide, and the results are only limited by the amount of data that’s being searched. Given how large Google’s database are, that’s a lot of data that can be filtered. These search queries also apply to Google’s image search as well. Now that the basic searches are out of the way, here are some other interesting things you can do with Google’s search engine.
To filter search results by text, simply use one of the following:
For instance, if you type intext:solar system, the results that are returned will all contain relevant results in regards to having “solar system” somewhere in the body text.
If you want to find webpages that have a particular search term in their hyperlinks, simply use inanchor:[parameter], or if you want to find webpages that have said search item in the page title, simply use intitle:[parameter]
During the course of your search, if you’re looking for a particular filetype, (such as pdf, doc, txt, etc), use filetype:[parameter].
Also, of use, results can immediately be limited to a specific site with site:[parameter], or use related:[parameter] find results that are related to a specific search term, similar to synonyms, but with results instead of words.
If you’re interested in finding out information about a particular site, using info:[parameter] should usually suffice in bringing up site info.
All of the above options can be used on their own, or in conjunction with a full-fledged search. Finally, there are some other interesting tools that you can use with Google to shorten the length of time that you may spend looking for other types of results and/or searches:
To find a definition for a particular word – define:[parameter]
In addition to using simple mathematics into the search bar, you can also use some higher order math functions using the following list:
To denote an exponent use ^. For instance 2^2
For square roots, use sqrt([parameter]), and sine, cosine and tangent functions are sin(), cos(), and tan(), respectively.
To calculate logarithms (base e), use the ln([parameter]) function, for base 10 use log([parameter]), and for base 2, lg([parameter]).
For factorials, use [parameter]! If you need to unit conversion, simply type in the appropriate unit, to, and the unit to be converted to (1 mile to feet).
As extensive as this powersearch tutorial is so far, there’s still more:
To search for movie showtimes in the US, use movie:[parameter] To see weather forecasts for various geographic locations, use weather [parameter]. To find up-to-date stock values, use stock:[parameter] To use US directory listings for phone numbers, names and/or locations, use the phonebook: query. You can also type in a US area code to find out where the area code is located. To find out what time it is in another country, simply use time:[parameter] For Google’s page caches, use cache:[parameter] for the latest cached page of a particular site, and use link:[parameter] to find out where a particular site is linked from.
These are pretty much all the methods you’ll need to powersearch for anything Google related. Given how many ways there are to filter the data, it’s pretty obvious why Google still remains the dominant search engine when it comes to finding things on the internet.