Guiding Tech For Beginners: Understanding Google Search Operators & Using Them to Search Faster

Saikat Basu

When it comes to answers and searching for something, Google is probably next to God. Though other search engines (especially Bing) also do rather well, it’s usually the barebones white page we head for. Google may be ‘God’ for us on the online world, but it doesn’t have HIS all-embracing vision. It often needs direction with the right kind of search operators. Google search operators help us hit the bull’s eye faster, so it really makes sense to mug them all. This beginner tutorial is the first of a series. Today, let’s cover some of the basic search operators:

Points to remember:

  • Google search is case insensitive. New York is same as new york. Some operators (like AND & OR) are case sensitive.
  • Every word is used, so it’s best to keep your search terms (keywords) precise and short.
  • With a few exceptions, punctuation is ignored by Google Search.

The Basic Seven Google Operators

Lets check out the basic operations that can aid you in searching faster.

1. AND or +

Google Search Operator

Using either AND or + forces Google to include a particular keyword in the search. Using either of these operators you can combine two keywords in one search. Google includes all pages where both keywords occur. The “AND” must be in caps and there is no space after the “+”

E.g. google+recruitment

2. – (The Minus Sign)

Google Search Operators

The minus operator does the reverse. It gives you search results without the keyword placed after the operator. The – sign suggests that you want to subtract or exclude pages that have a specific term. Do not put a space between the – and the word you want to exclude.

E.g. google -recruitment

3. ~ (Tilde)

Google Search Operators

The tilde symbol generally suggests ‘similar to’. Use it to search for a specific word and for the word’s synonyms. Google says that the tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms.

E.g. ~jokes

4. OR or |

Google Search Operators

Using OR (in uppercase) or the vertical bar with two or more keywords tells Google to search for pages that contain either of the words. Note that in this case there is a space after the vertical bar.

E.g. computer OR laptop

computer | laptop

5. ” ” (Double Quotes)

Google Search OperatorsSurround a word or a phrase with double forces Google to search for pages that contain it exactly in the same form.

E.g. “I have a dream”

6. * (The Asterisk)

Google Search OperatorsThe asterisk operator is handy when you are sure of one or more words but are missing a few more. The wildcard operator fills up the space and enables you to search with the known words. The asterisk represents a missing word which Google tries to fill in. You can also use it within double quotes for more precise searches.

E.g. “How to * my life”

7. ..  (The Double Dot)

Google Search OperatorsThe double dots help you to search within a range of two numbers, with a number on either side of the dots stand for the lower and higher ranges. This operator is a neat way to search for a product within a given price range or to find a timeline for an event.

E.g. smartphone $200..$499

These seven Google operators are the basic ones you can use for everyday search. Gradually, we will dive into the more advanced and specialized operators on our way to becoming a Google search hotshot.

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