Google Search syntax dissected

Here is my compilation of some of Google’s advanced query syntax which you can use to get results quickly.

Basic Boolean

Whenever you search for more than one keyword at a time, Google will search for all of them. If you search for

XML Java "web Services"
Google will search for all the words. If you want to specify that either word is acceptable, you put an OR between each item

XML OR Java OR "Web Services"
If you want to have definitely one term and one of two or more other terms, you group them with parentheses, like this

XML (Java OR "Web Services")
This query searches for the word “Java” or phrase “Web Services” along with the word “XML.” A stand-in for OR borrowed from the computer programming realm is the | (pipe) character, as in

XML (Java | "Web Services")
If you want to specify that a query item must not appear in your results, use a -.(minus sign or dash).

XML Java -"Web Services"
This will search for pages that contain both the words “XML” and “Java” but not the phrase “Web Services.”

Operators

In addition to the basic AND, OR, and quoted strings, Google offers some rather extensive special syntaxes for honing your searches. Google being a full-text search engine, it indexes entire web pages instead of just titles and descriptions. Additional commands, called special syntaxes, let Google users search specific parts of web pages or specific types of information. Specifying that your query words must appear only in the title or URL of a returned web page is a great way to have your results get very specific without making your keywords themselves too specific.

Here are some of the common keywords that you can add to your query in Google

intitle, allintitle

Restricts your search to the titles of web pages. The variation, allintitle: finds pages wherein all the words specified make up the title of the web page. It’s probably best to avoid the allintitle: variation, because it doesn’t mix well with some of the other syntaxes.

Eg: intitle:"george bush"
allintitle:"money supply" economics

inurl, allinurl

Restricts your search to the URLs of web pages. This syntax tends to work well for finding search and help pages, because they tend to be rather regular in composition. An allinurl: variation finds all the words listed in a URL but doesn’t mix well with some other special syntaxes.

Eg: inurl:help
allinurl:search help

intext, allintext

Searches only body text (i.e., ignores link text, URLs, and titles). There’s an allintext: variation, but again, this doesn’t play well with others. While its uses are limited, it’s perfect for finding query words that might be too common in URLs or link titles.

Eg: intext:"yahoo.com"
allintext:html

inanchor

Searches for text in a page’s link anchors. A link anchor is the descriptive text of a link. For example, the link anchor in the HTML code O’Reilly and Associates is “O’Reilly and Associates.”

Eg: inanchor:"tom peters"

site

Allows you to narrow your search by either a site or a top-level domain. AltaVista, for example, has two syntaxes for this function (host: and domain:), but Google has only the one.

Eg: site:loc.gov
site:thomas.loc.gov
site:edu
site:nc.us
You can also use site: operator to exclude certain domains from a search

Eg: google -site:google.com
This is particularly useful for ego searches. You can find out all those sites which mention your name expect your site.

Eg: bill gates -site:microsoft.com -site:wikipedia.org

link

Returns a list of pages linking to the specified URL. Enter link:www.google.com and you’ll be returned a list of pages that link to Google. Don’t worry about including the http:// bit; you don’t need it, and, indeed, Google appears to ignore it even if you do put it in. link: works just as well with “deep” URLs-http://www.raelity.org/apps/blosxom/ for instance-as with top-level URLs such as raelity.org.

Eg: link:www.google.com

cache

Finds a copy of the page that Google indexed even if that page is no longer available at its original URL or has since changed its content completely. This is particularly useful for pages that change often. If Google returns a result that appears to have little to do with your query, you’re almost sure to find what you’re looking for in the latest cached version of the page at Google.

Eg: cache:www.yahoo.com

filetype

Searches the suffixes or filename extensions. These are usually, but not necessarily, different file types. I like to make this distinction, because searching for filetype:htm and filetype:html will give you different result counts, even though they’re the same file type. You can even search for different page generators, such as ASP, PHP, CGI, and so forth-presuming the site isn’t hiding them behind redirection and proxying. Google indexes several different Microsoft formats, including: PowerPoint (PPT), Excel (XLS), and Word (DOC).

Eg: homeschooling filetype:pdf
"leading economic indicators" filetype:ppt

related

Finds pages that are related to the specified page. Not all pages are related to other pages. This is a good way to find categories of pages; a search for related:google.com would return a variety of search engines, including HotBot, Yahoo!, and Northern Light.

Eg: related:www.yahoo.com
related:www.cnn.com

info

Provides a page of links to more information about a specified URL. Information includes a link to the URL’s cache, a list of pages that link to that URL, pages that are related to that URL, and pages that contain that URL. Note that this information is dependent on whether Google has indexed that URL or not. If Google hasn’t indexed that URL, information will obviously be more limited.

Eg: info:www.oreilly.com
info:www.nytimes.com/technology

define

Will get the definition of the term that you have entered. This syntax can be used to get the definitions of words, phrases, and acronyms

Eg: define:dreaming
This query will get you the definition of the word dreaming

numrange

If you want to search for a range of numbers then you can use two dots (without spaces) to represent a range of numbers

Eg: inventions 1850..1899
This query will get you all the inventions between 1850 and 1899

safesearch

If you include safesearch: in your query, Google will exclude adult-content.

Eg: safesearch:breasts
This will search for information on breasts without returning adult or pornographic sites.

stocks

If you start your query with stocks:, Google will interpret the rest of the query terms as NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, or mutual fund stock ticker symbols, and will open a page showing stock information for the symbols you specify.

Eg: stocks:goog
This will show information about Google’s stock. Specify ticker symbols not company names. If you enter an invalid ticker symbol, you’ll be told so and given a link to a page where you can look up a valid ticker symbol.

The Special Syntaxes

Currency Conversion

Google makes it easy to calculate money conversions from one form of currency to another.

Eg: $5 in yenThe above query will let you know that five dollars is worth about 566.599846 yen.

If you’re not sure of the name of a currency, use nationality instead.

Eg: 25 Australian money in Italian money
This may sound awkward but it does the job.

Eg: $5 in indian money
This will let you know that 5 US dollars is worth about 224.477976 Indian rupees

You can even convert units in this fashion.

Eg: $2.85 per gallon in British money per literThis query will tell you that it is about 42 pence per liter and provides an international basis for discussing gas prices at the pump.

Check Airfares

When you google for the names of two major cities, Google automatically offers to search for flights.

Eg: Denver Fort Lauderdale
In the form labeled “Flights from Denver, CO to Fort Lauderdale, FL”, enter a departure and return date and choose whether to search using Expedia, Hotwire or Orbitz. Do not use quotation marks in your initial search. Denver “Fort Lauderdale” will not bring up the flight search form.

Find Song Lyrics

If you are looking for the title or lyrics of a song then you can use Google search phrases and wildcards to find them.

Eg: "Friday I am in love" lyrics
Or use the wildcard operator to get lyrics with certain words in them, like this

"Friday * love" lyrics

This compilation is just a tip of the iceberg of the features available in Google’s search syntax. If you come across any other special syntax, then do let me know so that I can add it.

Update: Some of the latest additions to Google Search Syntax can be found here.

Update 2: You can also get the current time of any city using Google Search query.

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