How to Get Better Google Search Results

While Google is an amazing resource - giving us search results fast and reasonably accurately - there are plenty of times that the world's most popular search engine just can't deliver, no matter how the search query is framed. If you're tired of having to redo your searches over and over, this article is for you. We'll talk about a few simple iterations you can apply to your Google searches that will give them just a little bit extra "oomph!" - and bring back more accurate search results. 

Frame your searches - use quotes

Hands down, the most tried and true method for achieving better search results in Google is simply 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? 300,000 results - quite a difference. Putting these words 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. 


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. Simply use the asterisk in place of the word you're thinking of to widen your search field, and you'll get results you wouldn't normally get - making your searches much more interesting. 

Exclude words

This is part of Boolean search; in layman's terms, you're basically going to use math in your search query. If you want to search for pages that don't contain a particular word or phrase, just use the minus (-) character right before the word you want to leave out. For example, baseball -bat will all pages with "baseball", excluding those that also have "bat". This is a quick and easy way to make your searches more streamlined. 


Use the tilde symbol to find synonyms and open up your searches. For example, ~car reviews will look for pages that offer not only car reviews, but auto, reviews, automobile, etc. 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 better able to be found by using Google to uncover these hidden treasures. For example, say you wanted to find information on tracking down a cell phone number at About Web Search. You would do this by typing  in to Google  "cell phone". This works on any site, and is a great way to use the power of Google to find what your'e looking for. 

Search for a title

Here's a tip that can really help narrow your searches down. Say you're looking for recipes; specifically, carne asada crockpot recipes. Use intitle: "carne asada" crockpot and you'll only see results with the words "carne asada" and "crockpot" in the title of the Web page. 

Search for a URL

It's best practice to put what the website or web page 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 Web pages. This amazing resource can find all sorts of different documents, anything from PDF files to Word documents to Excel spreadsheets. All you need to know is the unique file extension; for example, Word files are .doc, Excel spreadsheets are .xls, and so on. Say you wanted to find interesting PowerPoint presentations on social media marketing.  You could try filetype:ppt "social media marketing". 

Use Google's peripheral services

Google isn't "just" a search engine. While search is certainly 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 instance, 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. Or perhaps 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 simply experiment. Use the techniques explained in this article together; try a combination of a couple 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. 

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