In 2016 Google told Search Engine Land that trillions of searches are conducted per year on its search engine and most people conduct dozens of searches per day. Google produced a great microsite which explains how Google search works, but in a nutshell, Google archives the entire web into a database and every search is a query into that database.
Every time a Google search is conducted, Google does its best to determine the intent behind the query, and then shows the most relevant matching results. Since Google’s search experience is just an algorithm, it may not always guess the right intent, so you want to give Google more clues about what you are looking for. Other times you might be looking for results within narrow parameters or on a specific type of site. To conduct these more specific searches on Google you must use search modifiers. Here are the top 10 search modifiers which can help you level up your Google queries:
- site: this query is very helpful when you are looking for results only on a specific website or type of website. Examples of this query: blog site:wikipedia.org means you only want to see results about blogs from Wikipedia.
- Another way of modifying the site query is to add a specific kind of web TLD (top level domain) like site:.gov. Example: blog site:.gov means you only want to see result about blogs from website that end with .gov
- Quotation marks around a query “example” means that the results must contain the word and not a related version of the word.
- A dash before a word means you only want results that DO NOT have words related to that word. Example website -blog means you don’t want to see anything related to the word blog.
- A plus sign before a word means that you want Google to take into account a word they may have discarded as a stop word. Example: +The long road home means that I want Google to consider the to be an equal part of my query to the other words.
- Adding the word OR between two queries means that you want results related to either the first word or the second word. Example: blog OR website means you want to see results that are relevant to either query
- Similarly, the word AND between queries requires that results be related to both queries. Example: blog AND website means that results have to be related to both blog and websites
- A tilde before a query means you want Google to also bring back results that are synonyms of your query. Example: ~blog brings back results for all words that are synonyms of blog
- Filetype allows you to specify the type of result you want to bring back from Google. Example: filetype:.pdf means you only want to see results that are PDF pages
Don’t worry if you can’t remember all this since you can always conduct what Google calls an advanced search with the link hidden under the settings.