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. E.g. ""quick glance at Ghent University's research facts and figures"
  • Use "OR" (in capitals!) or "|" to search for several terms. E.g. "Jon OR Jonathan tennant"
  • Some input is neglected in a search, like interpunction, meaningless words. If you want to include them, use single quotes (' '). E.g. 'de' garage gent
  • Use an asterisk (*) to complete a phrase with an unknown word. E.g. "Winston * Churchill“, "a bird in the hand is worth * in the bush"
  • Include synonyms to broaden your search question using the tilde (~). E.g. "healthy ~diner" 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 (..). E.g. "Charles 1500..1599"; "samsung phone 200..400€"
  • Search in a particular website with "site:". E.g. site:eoswetenschap.eu darwin
  • Exclude terms using a dash (-). E.g. "-site:wikipedia.org" to avoid results from wikipedia
  • Only search the term in the title: "intitle:" for one word, "allintitle:" for several words. E.g. "intitle:beer"; "allintitle:beer contest". Alternatively, to find words in the text you can use "intext:".
  • Find related websites to the one you already know. E.g. "related:eoswetenschap.eu"
  • Convert measurements in no time. E.g. "16 lb to kg".
  • Search for content by a certain author: "allinpostauthor:". E.g. "allinpostauthor:jon tennant"
  • Check out who is linking to a page using "link:". This helps you assess the quality, the validity of a website. E.g.: "link:http://eosmagazine.eu"
  • Search in the website your have found: push the buttons "Ctrl" and "f" at the same time and a search box will open
  • Try using Google's advanced search: http://www.google.com.au/advanced_search

Want to find out more? Check out these sources:

Official Google Search Tips & Tricks site: Google help Center (accessed 2019/08/25)

Nice infographic by dailyinfographic (accessed 2019/08/25)

Beebom 50 Cool Google Search Tricks to Search Better in 2019 (accessed 2019/08/25)

How to “hack” Google with search operators, Rachel Rofé (accessed 2019/08/25)

More tips


Last modified Aug. 26, 2019, 2:58 p.m.