When you want to find something, a quick Google search can be your best friend. But, when you’re searching for something specific, it can be frustrating to receive dozens of inaccurate results. Try using a Google search operator when you need more detailed results. Included in this article are:
- Standard search operators
- Advanced search operators
- Tips for maximizing your results
You’re more likely to get accurate results when you narrow your search terms by hyper-targeting some keywords and eliminating others.
What is a Google Search Operator?
When you use a Google search operator, you manipulate search terms to achieve more specific results. Google search operators help the search engine to be more effective in identifying results that pertain to your intended search.
Examples of basic Google search operators include:
- Using words like AND, OR
- Placing quotation marks around a phrase
- Using symbols like @, $
You are not limited to a single Google search operator per search term. Use as many as you need to narrow down your results by combining symbols and words. The trick is understanding how to use these search operators to your advantage.
Top Twelve Google Search Operators You Need to Know
If you’re conducting research, here are twelve ways to maximize your results.
- Quotation marks “ “
If you want to find an exact phrase, use quotation marks to search for a series of words together instead of separately. For example, place quotation marks around the search term [“linear regression in excel”].
Without quotations, Google returns any search with all three words in any order. With quotations, Google returns results only if the three words are together in that exact order.
You can also use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase as a way of looking for plagiarism. You might need to do this if you are a writer and you suspect that your work is copied elsewhere.
- Asterisk *
When you use an asterisk in your search, you tell Google that you’re looking for any but not all of the words in a results. For example, if you are researching types of python classification algorithms you may type: [python classification algorithms *] to receive results for any word, but not necessarily all words.
- OR – must be all caps
If you want to search for one word or another, type OR in between two words. Google will serve you results for one of the two words but not both. For example, Tableau OR PowerBI.
- Pipe symbol – |
This straight vertical line offers the same results as using the word OR. For example, [Tableau | PowerBI].
- AND – must be all caps
If you want results to include two words, type AND in between them. You’ll receive results that contain both words without prioritizing a particular order. For example, Tableau AND PowerBI.
- Parenthesis ( )
If you want to search using two different search operators, identify each one using parentheses to divide them. For example (Bar OR Line) Charts.
- Hyphen –
If there is a word that continually appears in your results and is irrelevant to your search, add a hyphen before it to exclude the term from your search. For example, Snowflake -errors.
- Two dots – ..
If you want to search between numbers or years, use two dots in between the numbers to represent a range. For example, 2010..2020.
- Dollar sign – $
When you want to locate a price on a Google search, place a dollar sign before the number value to represent a price. For example, used car $8,500.
Use a dollar sign to search for prices. You can use the Euro sign to search for prices in that currency. Example: piano $1500
- At symbol – @
When you want to find results that are related to social media and social media users, place the @ symbol before the word or name. For example, @instagram.
- Pound sign or hashtag – #
If you want to search for hashtags that people use on social media sites, place the has tag symbol before the words or phrases without any spaces. For example, #dataanalytics.
- The word ‘in’
If you want to convert one metric or amount to a different measurement, put the word “in” between the two different units of measurement. For example, 100 grams in pounds.
Advanced Google Search Operators
You can narrow your search results even more by using more specific Google search operators that are designed to help you get specific.
If you want to search on a certain website or use a specific web domain, use site: and then the web address or domain. For example, site:stackoverflow.com or site:.gov
If you have a website that is useful and want to identify similar ones, use the related: tag to find them. For example, related:datacamp.com
If you want to return search results that are files instead of web addresses, add filetype: to your search. For example, filetype:.xls
If you want to know what a word means, use define: before the word or phrase. For example, define:datamart.
If you want to find a word that is specifically within the body copy on a webpage, use intext: first. For example, intext:natural language processing.
You can use similar commands to search within specific website fields:
- Allintext – to find all of the words after a command, not just a single word. For example, allintext: red Extract Transform and Load
- Inurl – to find the word specifically located in a URL. For example, inurl:data
- Intitle – to find a word or a phrase that is specifically in the title of a webpage. For example, intitle:dbt
No matter what you are researching, Google search operators can help you find what you need. Thinking about the end result helps you decide what operators to use in narrowing your search.
The bottom line is, you have to learn to love Google. This is especially important if you’re in a professional research role, for example as a data analyst. Google search operators can make your research easier and give you more time to compile your results.