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The Power of Google Advanced Search

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When you need to find something on the web, just key the search term in Google and hit enter right?

Well, maybe. You’ve seen that Advanced Search link to the right of the search box, but have you ever used it? You should, as it can greatly improve your search results. It has the power of many of the advanced query operators built in to a more convenient interface for easier use.

If you simply key a few words into a regular search field, you’ll perform what’s known as a logical AND search meaning all words must be in the pages. Sure, you can use the advanced query operators, but who but the most ardent Google master is going to memorize them? Even I don’t want to! Doing a regular search without the query operators just does not cut it. You’ll likely way too many pages selected. Using the Advanced Search can trim literally millions of useless pages from the results!

You’ll see from this image of the Advanced Search page that there are many selections you can use.

It lets you search for pages that:

    contain ALL the search terms you type in

    contain the exact phrase you type in

    contain at least one of the words you type in

    do NOT contain any of the words you type in

    are written in a certain language

    are created in a certain file format

    have been updated within a certain period of time

    contain numbers within a certain range

    are within a certain domain, or website

    don’t contain “adult” material

The blue “Find Results” area is the heart of your search. You can fill in just one field or up to all four. It’s pretty self-explanatory so I won’t waste space describing what you’ll figure out in seconds.

The next section can really narrow down your search as well. Use the Language selection to list only web sites in your language. This is useful for me because for some reason I’m always coming up with German web pages in my searches.

The file format selection can include or exclude one file type.

The Date option is extremely useful if you are looking for timely information (and who isn’t?). Let’s say that you are searching for the latest precautions on a medication-do you really want to risk reading a seven year old report on the subject? Set the Date selection to a recent time frame.

I really like the option to select where the search terms must be located. There are several choices, but if you really need to find pages that are created in line with your search terms, asking to find the words in just the title will find the most relevant. (The title is not necessarily what you see on the header of the web site; it is what the web designer carefully crafted and placed in a “Meta” keyword in the “code” that tells the search engine what the site title is.) There are other options you can experiment with.

The Domain selection offers a way to do a search that either searches only within a particular site or avoids a particular site.

If you are going to search for anything other than porn, turning on the Safe Search is a good idea. This uses the preferences you set in the Search Preferences page.

The rest of the page is not related to what we’ve covered, but take a look at it for other types of searches you can do.

Using the Advanced Search Option correctly can whittle your results page down from a few million to a few hundred pages. Make it a habit to use it more often.

Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

Visit Google Tutor & Advisor

The Power of Google Advanced Search
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