Basic Search Engine Commands
Most people already know the basics of using a search engine. Type in what you’re looking for and wait for the results. There are a couple of little basic tricks to better target your searches. For example, if you are looking for information about Washington the state and want to lessen results referring to Washington, D.C., you can use a – to remove those results. Instead of just searching for Washington, you would type in Washington – D.C. This will remove results including the D.C. from your search.
You can also add quotations to phrases to find specifically what you’re looking for. For example, if you are searching for a specific book title, like The Color Purple, you could put the title in quotes. This will give you only results where the three words are in this exact order, and aren’t spread all over the page. Your search will look like this: “The Color Purple.”
These are basic commands that can definitely increase the power of your web searches. However there are also many more advanced commands that can greatly increase your ability to make precise, targeted searches.
Advanced Search Engine Commands
The site Command
Sometimes when you are looking for something, you know what site you want to find the information on but aren’t sure exactly where the information is. For example, say that you found a site that you like, www.alltheinfo.com, and you wanted to find information about real estate only from this site. From any search engine you can use the site command to search only this site. Your real estate search would look like this:
real estate site:www.alltheinfo.com You simply type in your search terms, type in site: afterwards, with the name of the site after the command. This will produce results only from that web site.
But, let’s say that your problem is reversed. You are running a search on real estate and there are way too many results from www.alltheinfo.com, and you want to get rid of them. You can reverse the process and remove all results from that web site using the same command, but with a – in front.
real estate -site:www.alltheinfo.com This will remove all results from that web site from your search, allowing you to look only in new locations.
This command is fairly universal among search engines, working in the major ones such as Google or Yahoo!, but might not be available in all search engines. Some search engines use variant commands such as host: or url: instead of the site command.
The filetype Command
Here is another scenario. You are looking for information on a specific subject and you only want results of a specific type, say pdf files. You are looking for IBM financial reports and only want results that come in a pdf format. Your search would look like this:
ibm financial reports filetype:pdf This command tells the search engine to only list results that are pdf files. There will be no html results, txt or doc results, etc.
Again, on the flip side, you can also use this command to exclude a certain filetype. Say that you’re computer can’t read pdf files and you don’t want them listed in your results. Using a similar process to that used with the site command, we can exclude results of a specific file type by adding a – in front of the command:
ibm financial reports -filetype:pdf All pdf results will then be removed from the list, giving you a more targeted search.
Other common filetypes to search for include html (Basic web pages), doc (Word documents), txt (text) and asp (Microsoft Active Server Pages). For example we could search for:
ibm financial reports filetype:html
ibm financial reports filetype:doc
ibm financial reports filetype:txt
And so on.
Currently only Google supports the filetype command. In the future other search engines might pick it up as well.
The link Command
The next command is a little bit different. Say that you have a web page on the internet, and want to know who is linking to you. By using the link command you can find all web sites that link to a certain site by entering the url. If your web site address is http://www.yoursite.com (you need to enter the http:// here), the command would be:
This will give you results of all web pages that include a link to your site. This feature is fairly standard with search engines, although it might not be supported by some of the smaller engines.
Over all, use of these commands enable you to make more targeted searches on the internet, above and beyond that of basic web searches. By understanding these advanced search engine commands you can greatly enhance your internet searching capability.