How many times have you typed a phrase into the Google search box–thinking you’ve got the perfect keywords to get just the thing you’re looking for–only to have the actual Google search results be a jumbled mess of content that doesn’t help you at all? If so, you’re not alone.
While finding the right keywords is important, their usefulness is limited when Google has to search through 634 million websites (and even more individual pages) in order to deliver relevant results to you. Fortunately, there are some web search tricks that you can use to narrow down your Google search results and find what you’re really looking for quickly.
If you’re ready to stop scrolling through pages and pages of useless links, follow the 10 tips below to make sure you get the best search results quickly and painlessly. Before you start your search, go to the Advanced Google Search form. It’s much easier to use all of these search tricks via the form than it is to type in a variety of search operators.
1. Search by an exact phrase.
Rather than entering a keyword phrase and getting results that include any of the words in that phrase, enter your keyword phrase into the “This exact word or phrase” text box in the Advanced Google Search form. The results you get will include the exact phrase used in its entirety rather than just bits and pieces of it.
2. Search for results that include any of the keywords you specify.
Using the “Any of these words” field, enter multiple keywords to find search results that include at least one of those words. Just type the word OR between each of your keywords in the Google Advanced Search field, and you’ll get better results than you would if you searched for web pages that use “all of these words.”
3. Search for results that do not include specific keywords.
Are there specific words that you don’t want to appear in your search results? If so, you can enter them in the “None of these words” field in the Advanced Google Search form. If a web page includes your keyword phrase and the words you’ve excluded, you won’t see that page in your search results.
4. Search for results that were updated within a specific time period.
Do you know the content you’re looking for was published online within the last day, week, month, or year? You can narrow your search to only results that were updated during that time period using the “Last update” drop-down menu in the Advanced Google Search form.
If you want to select a custom date range, you can enter your keyword phrase and conduct your search. At the top of the results page, click the Search Tools link and then select “Custom Range” from the second drop-down menu from the left and enter your date range. If you did not enter a time frame in the Advanced Google Search form, the drop-down menu is labeled using the default setting of “Any Time.” Otherwise, the drop-down menu will be labeled with the preset time frame you chose in the advanced search form.
5. Search for results on an exact website.
If you know you want to find results related to your keyword phrase on a specific website, you can do that using the Advanced Google Search form. Just enter the URL in the “Site or domain” field, and you’ll only get results from that website.
6. Search for results in a specific part of a web page.
If you know that you only want to find content that includes your keyword phrase in the page title, the page text, the page URL, or links to the page, then select that option from the “Terms appearing” drop-down box in the Advanced Google Search form. Your Google search results will only include web pages where your keyword phrase is used in the specified location.
7. Search by file type.
You can narrow your results to only include certain file types by selecting that file format from the “File type” drop-down menu in the Advanced Google Search form. For example, you can search only for .PDF, .PPT, .DOC, and more.
8. Search for results that are similar to a specific URL or link to a specific URL.
At the bottom of the Advanced Google Search form are several links that you can follow to conduct even more specific searches. Click on the “Find pages that are similar, to or link to, a URL” link, and you’ll find details about how to conduct site-specific searches. For example, to search for web pages that are similar to a specific URL, type “related:lifed.com” into the Google search box. Be sure to substitute your chosen URL for “lifed.com” in the search box.
To search for pages that link to a specific URL, just type “link:lifed.com” into the Google search box, and you’ll get a list of web pages that link to that URL. Again, make sure to substitute your chosen URL for “lifed.com” in the search box. You can also search for links to a specific page on a website by entering the full URL of the specific web page after “link:” in the Google search box.
9. Find web pages you already visited.
If you know you visited a web page recently, you’re using the same computer that you used last time you visited that page, you were logged into your Google Account when you visited that page, and you haven’t turned off the automatic Google Web History, then you can search through your Google Web History to easily find that page again. Just log into your Google account and visit www.google.com/history. You can learn more about how Google Web History works through the Google Help site.
10. Find web pages that include a similar word to your keyword.
If you want to find search results that are similar to your chosen keyword, you can simply enter a tilde sign immediately before the word in your search phrase that you want to include synonyms for in your search results. For example, to expand your results, you could type “~health tips” into the Google search box and get results that include “health” as well as synonyms for “health” such as “nutrition tips” and more.
You can learn more about getting better Google search results on the Google Operators and More Search Help page. Start playing around with the various options, and you’ll soon start saving a lot of time and frustration by getting the best results faster than ever.