Whether you’re last-minute studying for a university exam or just need to know whether you can eat a loaf of bread you’ve left in the freezer for a year, Google is your one-stop shop for bite-sized information delivered direct to your digital front door. But did you know that you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through pages of search results to find exactly what you want?
According to Yale University graduate Chris Hladczuk, there are eight simple ways to narrow your Google search results that you probably haven’t tried before. Let’s get into it…
If you want to see search results for an exact phrase, use quotation marks
Using quotation marks around a phrase in Google’s search engine lets you search for only that exact phrase rather than half of it.
For example, say you wanted to look up The Umbrella Academy season 3 but didn’t want Google to just show you general results for the words Umbrella Academy or season 3. Adding quotation marks around the whole phrase will then give you only results with that exact phrase in it.
If you want to exclude a term from your Google search results, use hyphens
If you want to exclude a term from your search results, add a hyphen before that word.
So if you wanted to search for non-COVID-related news in New South Wales, you would write in the search bar: -covid NSW.
If you want synonyms to appear in your search results, use a tilde
Using a tilde (this “~” little guy) in Google will let you see synonyms of your search term.
For instance, if you wanted to look up DLC or expansion packs for a video game like Destiny 2, searching “destiny ~dlc” would give you results for Destiny DLC, expansions and post-release content.
If you want to search within a specific website, write “site:” into Google
If you want to search for a specific keyword in a website — like our very own Lifehacker — just write the website URL and “:” icon followed by your keyword.
An example could be “lifehacker.com.au: poached egg”.
If you want results for two different terms on Google in the same search, use the vertical bar
To include two different things in a Google search, type in your two key terms and then use the “|” to separate them.
For example, you could search for “best Netflix movies Australia | best Stan movies”.
That will give you results for the best movies on both Netflix ANZ and Stan.
If you want to search between two numbers, use two full stops
Say you are writing a uni essay and want to find academic articles from 1989 to 2009, you can do that by adding the two dates and separating them with “..”.
So, for instance: “post-colonial Japan academic article 1989..2009”.
If you want to find results tied to a particular location, type “location:” into Google
Much like when searching for a term on a specific website, if you want to find news or search results in a specific city, you can type in “location:” with the specific location you want to see results from.
A search term like “comic-con location:Sydney” will show you everything online relating to comic-com in Sydney.
If you want to search for a specific filetype, type “filetype:[insert file type]” into Google
Did you know that you can also filter your search results by a certain file type?
Just like filtering location and terms on a site, all you have to do is write your search terms followed by “filetype:” and the type of file (e.g. doc, xls, jpg) that you want to see search results for.