How to Get Better Google Search Results

Think out of the box to improve your search results

Google Search on ipad being used by woman

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While Google is an amazing resource that delivers search results quickly and reasonably accurately, there are times that the world's most popular search engine doesn't deliver, no matter how the search query is framed. If this happens to you, a few simple iterations can give your Google searches a bit of extra oomph that returns a more accurate collection of search results. 

Frame Your Searches With Quotes

Hands down, the best tried-and-true method for achieving better search results in Google is to use quotes around the phrase you're looking for. For example, searching for the words tulip and fields returns around 47 million results. The same words in quotes — "tulip fields" — yields 300,000 results. Putting the phrase in quotes restricts your search to the 300,000 (give or take) pages that contain that exact term, making your searches instantly more efficient with just a small change. 

Asterisks as Wild Cards

Look for how to find * on Google, and you'll receive results for how to find someone, how to find your missing phone, how to find the best steak cut and lots more interesting information. Use the asterisk in place of the word you're thinking of to widen the search field, and you'll get results you wouldn't normally get, making your searches much more interesting. 

Exclude Words

Excluding words with a minus sign is part of a Boolean search. In layman's terms, you use math in your search query. If you want to search for pages that don't contain a particular word or phrase, use the minus (-) character right before the word you want to leave out. For example, baseball -bat returns pages on baseball while excluding those that also have the term "bat." This is a quick and easy way to streamline your searches. 


Use the tilde symbol to find synonyms and open up your searches. For example, ~car reviews looks for pages that offer not only car reviews but also results for auto, reviews, and automobile. This instantly makes your Google searches much more comprehensive. 

Search Within a Site

Not all search functions on all sites are created equally. Sometimes items within sites are easier to find by using Google to uncover these hidden treasures. For example, say you wanted to find information on tracking down a cellphone number on Lifewire. You do this by typing in the Google search field: "track cellphone." This works on any site and is a great way to use the power of Google to find what you're looking for. 

Search for a Title

Here's a tip that can narrow your searches down. Say you're looking for recipes — specifically, carne asada crockpot recipes. Use allintitle: carne asada crockpot, and you'll only see results with the words carne, asada, and crockpot in the title of the webpage. 

Search for a URL

It's best practice to put what the website or webpage is about within the URL itself. This makes it easy for search engines to return accurate results. You can use the inurl: command to search within web addresses, which is a pretty neat trick. For example, if you look for inurl:training "dog walk", you'll get results that have training in the URL, as well as the term "dog walk" on resulting pages. 

Search for Specific Documents

Google isn't just good for finding webpages. This amazing resource can find all sorts of different documents, anything from PDF files and Word documents to Excel spreadsheets. All you need to know is the unique file extension. For example, Word files are .doc, and Excel spreadsheets are .xls. Say you wanted to find interesting PowerPoint presentations on social media marketing. You could type filetype:ppt "social media marketing" to find just what you are looking for. 

Use Google's Peripheral Services

Google isn't just a search engine. While search is what it is known for, there's a lot more to Google than just a simple web search page. Try using some of Google's peripheral services to track down what you're looking for. For example, say you're looking for a wide collection of peer-reviewed scholarly articles. You'd want to check out Google Scholar and see what you can turn up there. If you're looking for geographical information, you can search within Google Maps to find what you're looking for. 

Don't Be Afraid to Try Something New

One of the best ways to get better results from your Google searches is to experiment. Combine a couple of different search queries and see what happens. Don't settle for results that aren't quite what you were looking for. Continue to improve your search techniques, and your search results will naturally follow.