May 18 2009

Google Query Syntax Explanations: Part 2

Here are a few more little known tricks that can be used to get better results from the google search engine. Save some bandwidth and tell your friends.

You can add all sorts of arguments to your google search query. The most useful that I’ve found so far is filetype. This allows you to specify the type of file that you want to search for.
If I type :
“iphone” filetype:pdf
into the google search engine then I only get pdf files in my search results, most of which are useful instructional manuals on the iphone.

There are many other arguments that can be useful:

intitle:”tech stuff”
inanchor:”tech stuff”

Stop Words

Google automatically removes certain words from searches. These are called stop words and consist of words like ‘I’, ‘a’, ‘the’, and ‘of’. To force google to use these words then add a ‘+’ to the begining of the word. So searching for a statement with ‘+the’ in it would force the query to look for the ‘the’. If you don’t care wheter these words are included in the search then why even enter them?

Order and repetition matter.

“codytaylor” scp
emphasizes the “codytaylor” and produces different results than searching
scp “codytaylor”
The keywords to the left are always given higher precedence in the query.

“codytaylor” scp
produces different results than searching
“codytaylor” scp scp

So if you’re looking for a page that is saturated with a specific keyword then you’ll have much more luck if you type it in more than once.


May 17 2009

Google Query Syntax Explanations: Part 1

Basic Google Syntax Explanations

Ever see someone spending hours trying to find something in google and just giving up due to the enormous amount of content for any given keyword? I’m amazed at how little everyone knows about using the Google search engine. Most of the population uses google every day but are still unaware of  some very basic but extremely simple and effective syntax rules for google queries. This takes energy and bandwidth. In the following I try and outline two of the most common methods of narrowing your search results down to only what you want.

  • Basic Boolean: Use ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ in your query. The ‘AND’ will require the result to include both keywords and the ‘OR’ will allow results that have either keywords in them. You can also use the ‘|’ (pipe) character to specify ‘OR’. To make sure that none of the results include a specific word then use the ‘-‘ character in front of the word. So searching ‘cody AND taylor AND -yoyo’ will return results for cody taylor that do not include yoyo.
  • Quotes: Use quotes on a query to specify that you only want to search results that are exactly as you write them. If I google codytaylor most of my results are for cody taylor but if I google “codytaylor” then I get results only containing codytaylor without any spaces. Googles forethought in displaying results and splitting up words is very useful but a lot of the time you will want your results to be exactly as you specified. Quotes are also used to specify keyword order. If I wanted results for only the useful and not some sentence or combination of words that include those three words then I would specify “only the useful”. Try it and you’ll notice a huge difference. Try a couple queries to see how much more specific your results become.

These two basic features are surprisingly little known yet so straight forward. Save everyone some bandwidth and explain this to the people around you.

Yes, Google is a verb.

Check out Part 2