Skip to main content

Advanced Google features and Search Engine alternatives

This guide is a supplement to the Advanced Google Research Class

Basic Search Operators

Exact phrase search  - Use inverted commas around your search term:

Eg “Climate Change”.
What does this do?: Finds the exact phrase, not the individual words. Gets less articles, but more precise

Similar terms - Use the "~" symbol to return similar terms.

Eg ~plane
What does this do?: Searches for terms with similiar meaning, in this case - aircraft, flight, jet, etc.  

OR  - Put Or between you key words

Eg "Employment law" OR "labour law"
What does this do?: Wider search - looks for articles that have either one phrase in them or the other. Search for one word or another, will give you larger amount of articles.

AND  - Put the And sign between your two words

Eg Gold and Jewellery
What does this do?: Looks for articles with both words in them. So would be good to exclude articles about Gold and Mining


- (Minus sign - acts as NOT) Put the minus sign before the word you want to exclude

Use the minus sign if you want to exclude a word,
eg. "law reform commission" –victoria
eg. Carlton - AFL
What does this do?: Gets rid of irrelevant hits, makes articles retrieved less, but more on topic

Wildcard  - The "*" symbol is a wildcard. This is useful if you're trying to find a phrase, but don't know a particular term in that phrase.

Eg Senate voted against the * bill.

What does this do?: If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown terms. It then tries to find the best matches. So in the example it would find Senate voted against the crime bill or Senate voted against the new bill.

Search web pages within a specific country  - If you need to search web sites from a specific country, just type host and a semi colon, and then the domain country code.  

Eg consumer law host: uk
What does this do?:  Narrows down searches to pages within a specific country. In the example, will just search for UK pages that have this phrase.

Search web pages with a specific domain extension  - Type Site: and then the sector domain

Eg site:edu

What does this do?:Search within certain types of web site, by sector domain. You can use this to search by domain within education sector (.edu) websites, or any of the Government (.gov), information (.info) commercial (.com) or any other sector websites. Just type site and a semi colon, and then the domain country code


See Advanced search or GoogleGuide reference sheet for more features.