Did you know that you can tell Google to search for synonyms? Or to look for a number between a given range?
In this post, I’ll show you how to make your Google queries much more accurate. You only need to know the special notation that Google understands and use it in each situation!
Let’s begin by explaining what happens with a normal query, without any special character.
– First of all, when entering a query, the order in which you enter the different terms matters. It affects both the order of the search results and the pages it will show. For example, it favors results that have your search terms near each other, and gives higher priority to pages that contain your terms with the same order of your query.
– It is not case-sensitive.
– Punctuation characters are normally ignored, like ! ? , or .
– Apostrophes are noticed: a term with an apostrophe doesn’t match the term without it.
– When you look for a query like:
Google finds pages that contain both terms: cheap and bicycles. Moreover, due to the automatic stemming feature, it will also find pages containing cheap bicycle or cheap bicyclist, and any other bicycle variant.
However, if your query consists of a single term, the results will contain that term without variants.
– If your query contains an hyphen, like single-species, Google will search for single species, single-species and singlespecies. That is the term with the hyphen, without the hyphen, and with a space.
– Avoid making questions in your queries, like how long does it take to learn python? These extra words to write a question, like how long or take, might not be in a page that contains the answer you want. So try to write your queries as simple as possible 😉
– Stop Words: some words are so common that Google ignores them (these words are named Stop words). For example, the query
cheap bicycles and cars
is equivalent to cheap bicycles cars, as the term and is ignored by Google. Some of these words are: the, on, how, de and la.
Ok, now let’s make things more interesting with the special notation that Google understands 😉
The OR operator: OR or |
Use this operator when you want to perform a query containing one term or another or both of them. For example, these two queries are equivalent:
apple OR pear cake
apple | pear cake
and Google will search for pages containing apple cake, pear cake or apple pear cake.
The Without term: –
Use this operator when you don’t want a term in your results. For example:
django -unchained -Reinhardt
will look for pages containing django but without unchained and Reinhardt. The results obtained are more likely to refer to Django, the Python web framework.
The Synonym term: ~
This symbol indicates Google to look for results containing the term or one of its synonyms. It also searches for the term with alternative endings. For example:
will match run, running, or marathon. And:
will match Python guide as well as Python tutorial.
Quoted terms: “”
If you want to search for a page that contains exactly your phrase, with the terms in that specific order, you have to put that phrase using “”. For example, the query
restaurant “The good apple”
will look for pages containing the word restaurant and the phrase the good apple. Without the quotes, it will look for pages containing the words restaurant, good and apple, as the word the is a stop word. Moreover, when looking for the word good and due to the automatic stemming feature, it also searches for the word great.
Tip: use quotes when you want a stop word in your searches, like “the” apple.
Quoted phrase with a wildcard: The * operator
Inside a quoted phrase, you can use the wildcard * to match any (or more than one) word. For example
“chocolate * recipe”
will match chocolate recipe, chocolate cake recipe, chocolate cookies recipe, chocolate mousse recipe, chocolate extra good recipe, etc.
Numerical results with ..
If you are looking for a numerical result, but you’re not sure about the value, you can make a Google query like the following:
which will search for pages containing the word restaurant and a number between $10 and $30. Also
will search for PyCon 2012, PyCon 2013 and PyCon 2014.
Now you can make more accurate queries and find what you’re looking for quicker!
Please, share and +1 if you find it useful! 😉
Marina Mele has experience in artificial intelligence implementation and has led tech teams for over a decade. On her personal blog (marinamele.com), she writes about personal growth, family values, AI, and other topics she’s passionate about. Marina also publishes a weekly AI newsletter featuring the latest advancements and innovations in the field (marinamele.substack.com)