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Google Search Operators

Google allows you to search using search operators, special words and symbols that make it easy to get search results that match as closely as possible the information for which you're looking. You combine search operators with search terms to form a query, like this:

zeppelin "Led Zeppelin"

That search would bring back pages that had the word zeppelin on them, but did not have the term Led Zeppelin on them.

Here are the common operators you can use with Google:




You don't need to use this operator because Google adds it by default to searches in which you use multiple terms. It returns results that contain all the terms in the search. So a search of cow collagen would return only those pages in which both cow and collagen appear.


When you add this operator, Google returns pages on which any of the words are found. So a search of cow OR collagen returns pages in which cow appears and those pages on which collagen appears. So an OR search returns many more results than an AND search.


The minus sign is called the exclusion operator, and it functions like the NOT operator. You combine it with other operators and terms and use it to exclude certain words from the search results. So the search cow collagen returns pages on which the word cow appears and on which the word collagen does not appear. The operator has to go next to the word (or the phrase within quotes) that you want to exclude; there can be no spaces between them.


The plus sign is called the inclusion operator and serves an interesting purposeit tells Google to use a word in a search that it normally ignores, or a stop word. So if you want to make sure that Google includes the word to in a search, you put it in the search as +to. As with the exclusion operator, the inclusion operator has to go next to the word you want to include; there can be no spaces between them.


The asterisk is called a wildcard. For those who are familiar with searches on a computer, you use it similarly to a computer wildcard search. It must be used in a quoted phrase, like this: "I * New York". The operator returns pages that have any words in place of the * on them. So an "I * New York" search would return pages with I Love New York, I Hate New York, and so on, on them.


The tilde is called the fuzzy operator or synonym operator; it searches for pages that contain the specified term as well as synonyms for the term. So, for example, a search of ~generous would return pages on which the word generous appears, as well as pages on which the word unselfish appears.


Google does not recognize the NOT operator, which is why you need to use in its place.

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