Advanced Google Searching Using Search Operators

Since discovering Google Search operators, ourefficiency with the world’s biggest search engine has gone through the roof.Most searchers will lazily type in a word or phrase, hit Enter, and expectGoogle to do the rest for them. In some cases, it works out. In others,something as simple as a symbol or extra character could have saved you so muchtime.

A search operator is a special character orspecial string of characters that you can include somewhere in your query togive the search engine more information on exactly what to do with your searchterm(s).

Though Google has yet to explain why, they’ve been sneakily getting rid of some of their search operators over the last decade. The + (plus) operator is just one example, which disappeared in 2011.

Google also doesn’t keep an official list ofall of the search operators that Google Search accepts at any given time. Thishas led to search operators becoming a bit of a secret and lost art. The goodnews is that we’ve got a list of 21 operators that still work today, and we’regoing to show you exactly how to use them.

Basic Google Search Operators

Google Search allows you to utilize manysingle-character or symbol-based operators that perform some of their mostbasic and useful search filtering. For basic search purposes, you’ll findyourself using these more than any other operators.

“search term”

Google has been increasingly allowing synonymsto match your search terms. Using quotation marks around your query, or part ofyour query, will force an exact match.

* (asterisk)

The asterisk search operator allows forwildcard searching. Use it as a substitute for any term or phrase, before,after, or in between.

  • Example: online * tips

– (hyphen)

The hyphen search operator will exclude anyterm or phrase directly after it.

  • Example: basketball -NBA

() (parentheses)

Putting a search term in between parentheseswill group it away from the rest of your query, allowing for a more refined andspecific search. Use it similar to how you would a mathematical function.

  • Example: (basketball AND football) athletes

Conditional Google SearchOperators

The two conditional Google Search operatorsallow you to make searches based on the logical “and” and “or” statementconnectors. Anyone with a little bit of coding experience should find these tobe very familiar.


Using this operator will show results that arerelated to both terms. Google effectively defaults to searching this way,though, so you only feel the impact of this operator when you use it along withothers.


This operator will show results related toboth terms or each term individually.

  • Example: sports OR games

Technical Google Search Operators

Some of the best Google Search operators areones that require a deeper understanding of how domains and websites work.Using these will allow you to dig up content and search methods that themajority of Google users will never find.


This operator will limit search results toonly sites that are indexed from a specific domain or URL. This is great forwhen you’re researching a site to see what its presence on Google is like.


This operator unlocks a Google feature similarto what is offered by the Internet Archive .Rather than taking you to a search results page, after typing any URL afterthis operator, Google takes you to its latest cached version of the website.For popular websites, the cached version can be as early as a few minutes ago.For others, it may be several days.

  • Example:


Although Google hasn’t made it clear exactlyhow this operator makes its determinations, this search operator will show youother websites related to a domain or URL. It’s a very interesting way to findalternatives to sites that you already love.

  • Example:


Used alone, this search operator doesn’tachieve much. However, when you pair it with other search terms or operators,searching for content by a specific file extension can be extremely valuable.This operator only works with file types that contain text, but you can searchGoogle Images for file types like GIF, PNG, and more.

  • Example: readme filetype:txt


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on text found in the website’s URL.

  • Example: inurl:pizza


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on if all of the terms following it are found in the website’sURL.

  • Example: allinurl:pizza crust


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on text found in the website’s title.

  • Example: intitle:zoo


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on if all of the terms following it are found in the website’stitle.

  • Example: allintitle:zoo animals


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on text found in the website’s content.

  • Example: intext:films


This operator will allow you to search forresults based on if all of the terms following it are found in the website’scontent.

  • Example: allintext: c omedy films

Instant Google Search Operators

If you’ve been on the Internet for a while,you may remember the time when Google had an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button thatwould instantly take you straight to the first result of your search query.Well, Google Search has a few operators that are something like that. Thesewill allow you to get immediate, specific results.


This operator allows you to get an instantdefinition preview of any word.


This operator allows you to get the weatherbased on any location—by postal/ZIP code, city name, state, or country. Thebroader locations will match to the most popular location in that region.

  • Example: weather:atlanta


This operator shows a stock’s share price, itsrecent trend, and a price graph. Information like the closing price, daily highand low, market cap, and more are also displayed.

  • Example: stocks:aapl


This operator will return a result from Google Maps related to any geographic location. You can use any location descriptor: name, postal/ZIP code, coordinates, etc. There are also ways that you can view your Google Maps search history and Google Maps location history .

  • Example: map:florida


This operator is a great way to research allof the information you could ever want to know about any movie. The resultswill be displayed beside an instant preview card that shows its ratings fromcredible sites, description, release date, cast, and more.

  • Example: movie:dumb and dumber

That’s it! These are the 21 Google Searchoperators that you’ll find most useful. There are many more floating around,and who knows when Google will pull the plug on them, but these operators areknown to work consistently. Many other operators that you won’t find listedhere don’t work as intended the majority of the time.

Once you’ve mastered Google Search operators,finding exactly what you need becomes so much easier. Memorize these and you’llnever have to worry about being lost on the Internet again!