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How to Search Smarter and Get Better Results on Google

December 10 2015

search queryStruggling to find relevant search results on Google? You may need to re-think what you're asking the search engine. To put a modern twist an old adage, there are no stupid queries...but there are smarter ones.

There are several words and phrases you can add to your Google search queries in order to return more relevant results. They're called "search operators" and you can use them to ask better questions and hone in on precisely what you're looking for. Here's how.

How to Be a Smooth (Search) Operator

1. Search for an exact phrase - Are you looking for something very specific, maybe a motivational business quote, and want to filter out all of the excess noise? Surround your query in quotation marks, e.g., "Create a sense of demand, rather than waiting to have demand."

2. Exclude a word - If your query is too broad, you can narrow it down by excluding a word from your search. Let's say you want to search for restaurants in Portland, but you keep getting results for the cities in both Maine and Oregon. Narrow it down by using the minus symbol to remove results from the state you don't want: Restaurants in Portland -Maine

3. Search within a site - If you want to return results from only a certain website domain, specify it like this: housing statistics

4. Search for similar content - Find something you like and wonder if there's something similar out there? For example, let's say you like URL shortening service, but want to explore alternatives. Just type the following to find them easily:

5. Find news related to a specific location - This search operator only works with Google's news search (just navigate to the tab that says "News" on the search results page). With it, you can find news stories in a particular locale. Typing city council election location:boston will return news stories for the local council election only in Boston.

6. Look for a specific filetype - Sure, you remember that nifty report from NAR and Google, and you remember that it was a PDF. Rather than moseying through NAR's whole site to find it again, find it quick by narrowing your search results down by filetype. This query looks like this: digital house hunt filetype:pdf

7. Search a number range - Looking for something within a certain numerical range? Separate your numbers by two dots to hone in on what you want: laptop $300..$900

Those are just a few of the advanced search operators Google offers. We'll cover more in a future article, but these should be enough to seriously upgrade your search savviness. In the meantime, share your favorite tricks for finding exactly what you want online in the comments below!