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Google search tips

In this post I would like to share tips and tricks on Google search techniques. I believe that web search is best understood by examples. This manuscript contains mainly examples of search expressions and very few explanatory words. First it may be helptul to get an idea about how search works? The following short movie (3.14 min) by Google engineer Matt Cutts give a general good explanation about how search works...

Search engines keep changing their algorithm(s) and adding/removing features. Tools like Google advanced search may narrow your search and give you more relevant results. Nevertheless, Google offers more advanced search features based on keywords and punctuations. They can be used in countless ways and combinations to provide relevant results.

Web Search

Web search is a general purpose search engine service it can be used to find web pages of all extensions and types. There are more specialized search services such as Google images search service or Google videos search service or Google shopping (narrow search to products) and more.

Boolean Operators

AND

Different words are always separated by the "and" logical operator. For that reason the word and is ignored. Usually order matters in query phrase, word gets higher precedence over its successive.

OR

Example:

Calculations

Math calculations and conversions

Google web search service can be used for simple math calculation (use Wolfram Alpha (computational knowledge engine) for more computational functionality). Examples:
  • (sin(30 degrees))^2+e^2+pi returns 10.7806487525.
  • 22.4%7 returns 22.3 modulo 7
  • sin(x) returns the graph of sin(x).
  • (sin(x))^2+(cos(x))^3 returns the graph of the function $f(x)=\sin^2(x)+\cos^3(x)$.
More calculation can be done by using Wolfram-Alpha computational knowledge engine. Conversion of measures, examples:
  • 2 usd in euro
  • 2 meter in feet
  • 290 pounds in kg
  • 20 litres in gallons
  • 22.3% * 19,321 returns 22.3 percent out of 19,321.
  • 22.3% * $19,321 returns 22.3 percent out of 19,321 USD.
  • 22.3% * 19,321 pound returns 22.3 percent out of 19,321 Pounds.
  • second in year returns 22.3 percent out of 19,321
  • hour in 100 year returns 22.3 percent out of 19,321

Punctuations

It seems that Google ignores punctuations on search queries, but there are exceptions... Examples:
  • hello world c++ does not ignore +

Quotes "exact phrase"

If the query contains phrase in quotes, then Google returns pages that contains the same exact phrase. Examples:
  • "Godel incompleteness theorem"
  • "the best choice out of 3"
  • linux distribution "the best choice out of "
  • "linux distribution" "the best choice out of "
    Notice that the and logic operator separates between the two quoted phrases.

asterisks

The asterisks * symbols replaced by any word(s). This can also be used inside quotes. Examples:
  • "Godel * theorem"
  • The query "dark * moon" may return results with the phrase
  • The query "car * accessories"

The $ symbol

The symbol $ is used for US dollar. Notice that typing $ into Google search query, returns the $ Euro exchange rate.

Exclusion -

It is possible to prevent words, sites or phrases from appearing in the result by using the prefixing the - symbols. Examples:
  • Vietnam -war
  • blender -software -cloud -tutorial -foundation
  • state department -site:.gov
  • Paris -hilton
  • thought experiment -physics

Range of numeric values

To specify two numeric values in a range, say 12 and 29 we write 12..29. Examples:
  • star wars helmet $10..$20
  • linux laptop $400..$600
  • Spain "1890..1948"
  • Spain "..1491" search for Spain along with numeric value that is less or equal to 1491.
  • Spain "1790" search for Spain along with numeric value that is greater or equal to 1790.
  • area of rectangle l=4 w=2
  • area of a circle r=5.2
  • area of ellipse a=2 b=3
  • pythagorean theorem formula a=3 b=4

Search Operators

info:

Display a quick summarized information about a site. Examples
  • info:google.com
  • info:cnn.com
  • info:ams.org

related:

Search similar or related page(s) to certain web page. Examples:
  • related:cnn.com
  • (without space between the column and the website or page address).
  • related:magmath.com/problems/math/textbooks
  • related:https://terrytao.wordpress.com/

link:

Returns web pages that are linking to a web page. Notice that there should be no space between the column and the web address that is being checked. In addition the results are usually not accurate. Examples:
  • link:cnn.com (without space)

cache:

Returns a snapshot of a page. Examples:
  • cache:bbc.co.uk Returns Google's snapshot of bbc.co.uk
  • cache:http://web.mit.edu/

stock:

Return information about a particular stock. Examples:
  • stock:pfizer
  • stock:yahoo
  • stock:google

weather:

Find weather and forecast in specified location. Examples
  • weather: jefferson city

site:

Limit the search to certain website(s). Example:
  • "Riemann hypothesis" site:ams.org limit the search to ams.org
  • "Riemann hypothesis" site:.edu limit the search to site with .edu domain name.

filetype:

Return pages file with specified extensions. Examples:
  • "2008 crisis" filetype:pdf
  • "2008 crisis" filetype:xls
  • hello world filetype:cpp
  • "recession" filetype:xls site:.ru
  • goldbach filetype:pdf ps File type may either be in pdf format or in ps format.
  • goldbach filetype:tex
  • goldbach filetype:tex site:.edu

define:

Find definition to a word or a phrase. Examples
  • define: theorem
  • define: "web search"
  • define: "cyber warfare"

inurl:

Term in the domain name or page URL may say something about the content. For this it make sense to look for keyword on the web-page address. Examples:

allinurl:

all the terms in the search query appears in the URL address. Examples:
  • construction allinurl:apollonius circle
  • allinurl:Riemann hypothesis site:stackexchange.com

intext:

Term or word that is subsequent to intext: must appear in the text of the page. Examples:
  • intext:"lucrative market" inurl:"economy"
  • intext:"stock target" inurl:"yahoo" -site:finance.yahoo.com
  • intext:"lucrative market" inurl:"economy" filetype:pdf
  • intext:"analyst opinion" inurl:stock
  • intext:"google share" inurl:stock

allintext:

Similar to inurl only that all words (with space) subsequent to allintext: operator are count (not just the first word.

intitle:

Term or word that is subsequent to intitle: must appear between the title tag of the web-page. Examples:
  • intitle:primes
  • intitle:"prime number theorem" site:.edu

allintitle:

The same as intitle: only that all the words subsequent to the allintitle: operator counts. Examples:
  • allintitle:binary search tree site:.edu
  • allintitle:luxury car in usa

allinanchor:

The query allinanchor:luxury car, returns pages that are being linked by other pages through "luxury car". Namely, if Google finds the followig text
<a href="example.com/foo.html">luxury car</a>
in some page, then the query allinancor:luxury car may display the page example.com/foo.html. Examples:
  • allinanchor: "Riemann hypothesis"

inanchor:

Similar to inanchor: only that the first word (no spacing) subsequent to the inanchor: operator counts.

Information queries

what

Examples:
  • area moon
  • area mars
  • population usa
  • what ip show your ip address
  • time California
  • area usa
  • area usa km2

Google-groups Search

author:

Search message written by author name. Examples
  • author:ben
  • author:john

group:

Search for a group name. Examples:
  • group: linux system administrator
  • group: luxury car
  • group: goldbach

insubject:

Search in the subject tag in google groups. Examples:
  • insubject: goldbach
  • insubject: world war 2

Google-news Search

location:

Restrict the search to a specific location, example:
  • robbery location:Chicago

source:

Restrict the search to one (or more) source(s). Example:
  • education source:"chicago tribune"

Resources: