9 Ways to Improve Your Google Search Results

Knowing how to Google for answers is a key part of any dev’s job

Ali Haider
Dec 1, 2020 · 4 min read
Google sign
Google sign
Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash.

Google is a powerful tool, but you’re missing out on a lot of that power if you simply type words into it. Today, we will remove the training wheels and unleash Google's true potential that you have not seen before.

We all type phrases into Google, then it shows results, and we search through them. This is the incorrect way — or rather inefficient use of mighty Google.

But why is just typing words into Google not that great?

On average, over 3.8 million searches are being made every minute. Google has the difficult task of catering to all these people from different parts of the world, of different ages, and with different needs. Google somehow has to keep them all happy. So it averages out the results or, in other words, shows a wide range of results.

You will get search results by the method mentioned above, but they won't be tailored to your needs. As a result, you will keep searching forever or miss out on the best results.

The algorithms behind Google’s searches can lead to a lot of irrelevant results. But this is what we will uncover today: how to use appropriate operators to get the results we truly need and weed out the rest.

1. Outdated Results

If you are searching for something related to technology or computer science, you need to have the latest results in front of you.

Surprisingly, Google will sometimes return results that are a decade old.

Here is a simple and quick solution:

  1. Go to “Tools.”
  2. Click on “Any time.”
  3. Click on the past year or whatever you prefer.
Google search settings
Google search settings
Screenshot

2. Exact Phrase

This is a powerful technique in which you narrow down the results, thus obtaining the best ones.

To search for exact phrases, wrap your words in double quotes (e.g. “Python”). This way, Google will precisely search for that word only.

The main difference between just typing straight away and using an operator is that you will get a wide variety of results when you type directly. The results might be irrelevant.

When you are confident that you know what you are looking for, wrap your phrases in double quotes and see the difference.

3. Search for Specific File Type

Sometimes, you need a PDF, JPEG, or flash file.

You can use the filetype: operator. For example, if you were searching for a PPT file:

Searching by file type
Searching by file type
Screenshot

4. Search From a Specific Site

This is something I use very often and absolutely love.

Suppose you love a website and want the result from that website only. Or you trust a website, it has authority, and you know you will get the best information regarding your query from that specific website.

Then you can use the site: operator.

Whenever I have any doubt regarding any computer science concept, I usually refer to medium.com to get accurate and top-notch content in seconds:

Search from a specific site
Search from a specific site
Screenshot

5. The * Operator

Often, we don't remember the information completely — be it a name or lyrics. By using the * operator, we can let Google know that the information is missing in between. Google then takes appropriate action.

6. Exclude Words With a —

If you don't want specific words to appear in the search results, use this operator by starting with a dash.

7. The or Operator

This operator is used to search for more than one phrase. This gives additional words for Google to look for.

To use it, write your phrases on either side of “or.”

8. Compulsory Word

This is a convenient and powerful operator that I use quite often. While performing a Google search, you can tell Google to place great importance on specific words and include them as a requirement.

Search with compulsory word
Search with compulsory word
Screenshot

9. Search for a Definition

Looking for a definition of something is common on Google.

To return results with a definition, use the define: operator:

Search with define: operator
Search with define: operator
Screenshot

Thanks for reading!

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Ali Haider

Written by

Over 5 years of obsession with technology || Writer and developer. I love making new friends, why don't we be friends?

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Ali Haider

Written by

Over 5 years of obsession with technology || Writer and developer. I love making new friends, why don't we be friends?

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

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