Google: search tips

Google is a powerful search engine. But the results list can be endlessly long and at page 3 you still haven't found what you were looking for. These tips and tricks will help you specify a better search question.

  • Use unique, specific terms (keywords, not sentences). E.g. search for headache instead of my head hurts
  • Make use of the auto-complete function. Interesting suggestions can help you narrow your search. Start typing Ghent University and get suggestions like Ghent University library, Ghent University hospital, Ghent University logo
  • Use double quotes (“”) to search for an exact phrase.
    "what does Ghent University stand for"
  • Use "OR" (in capitals!) or "|" to search for several terms.
    Jon OR Jonathan Tennant or Jon | Jonathan Tennant
  • Some input is neglected in a search, like interpunction, meaningless words. If you want to include them, use single quotes (' ').
    'de' garage gent
  • Use an asterisk (*) to complete a phrase with an unknown word.
    "Winston * Churchill"
    "a bird in the hand is worth * in the bush"
  • Include synonyms to broaden your search question using the tilde (~).
    healthy ~dinner will also return healthy choices, healthy eating, healthy recipes
  • Limit your search to a certain number range (also time span) by insertion of two dots (..).
    Charles 1500..1599
    samsung phone 200..400
  • Search in a particular website with "site:". darwin
  • Exclude terms using a dash (-). to avoid results from Wikipedia
  • Only search the term in the title: "intitle:" for one word, "allintitle:" for several words.  Alternatively, to find words in the text you can use "intext:"
    allintitle:beer contest
  • Find related websites to the one you already know.
  • Convert measurements in no time.
    16 lb to kg
  • Search for content by a certain author: "allinpostauthor:".
    allinpostauthor:jon tennant
  • Check out who is linking to a page using "link:". This helps you assess the quality, the validity of a website.
  • Search in the website you have found: push the buttons "Ctrl" and "f" (find) at the same time and a search box will open
  • Try using Google's advanced search:


Want to find out more? Check out these sources:

Official Google Search Tips & Tricks site: Google help Center (accessed 2023/03/14)

Nice infographic by dailyinfographic (accessed 2023/03/14)

Beebom 50 Cool Google Search Tricks to Search Better in 2019 (accessed 2023/03/14)

How to “hack” Google with search operators, Rachel Rofé (accessed 2023/03/14)

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Last modified March 4, 2024, 11:48 a.m.