Googling things, the right way

By | October 23, 2015

Going a little more in depth than “Welcome, traveler”, I’ll explore the different ways you can use search engines. If this seems basic to you, you can scroll down to the TLDR; part (too long, didn’t read) for a summary. I aim to conclude the most robust way to conduct a search. For now, lets look at the Google documentation on their search engine:

The link I just provided is to the search operators (special symbols that change the way your inputs are processed) that Google uses. Here are some straightforward and easy to use ones:

  1. For example the “-” hyphenation symbol works like like the logical “not” operation by excluding results you did not intend.
  2. Using “quotations like this” will search for the words in that order and that order only. Finding the name of a song or artist based only a snippet of lyrics is a great way to use this. Or quotes from prominent public figures.
  3. Asterisk, ” * ” is also known as a wildcard – just like in card games, it can be anything! Cool! If I know something starts like “A wise man once said ___. ” but forgot the rest, so I replace it with an asterisk. Wildcards are also used in consoles when searching for a file or directory (Windows I believe, and the tilde “~” for Linux).
  4. There are several operators that seem to be intended for finding products in a price range, but this is most likely related to some biased advertising scheme. I would recommend finding several competitive online retailers and getting the gist of pricing on something that way. It doesn’t take long.
  5. Searching within a domain can be done like: “site:” – or even “” This is useful because search queries can become increasingly demanding, and smaller sites might not be able to handle multiple queries through their own search function, and will therefore limit how frequently you can search. Google has websites indexed, or “snapshotted” in a sense, and can return a result without requesting data from the individual website.
  6. Learning about domains can be streamlined, too! Just type “info:” before the domain name, like in the previous example. I used WordPress for an example here:
    • There should be five bullet items towards the bottom which can help you find similar websites, sites that link the domain you searched, and even view a “copy” of the page without loading the website (see: cached).
  7. You can make most, if not all, of the previously mentioned specifications with advanced search. Although a little slower to open up and fill out, the advanced search has many fields you can make constraints with, if all else fails. My most useful filter thus far is the date filter. Many things we search for are current events or time sensitive. You can narrow down results to pages that have been updated within two weeks, months, years, and so on. After doing a Google search,on the “Web/Video/Images” bar you’ll see “Search Tools”. You can quickly specify date there.
  8. Alternative Engines: I should at least make mention of other search engines. DuckDuckGo, a relatively new search engine, appeals to users by not tracking their searches and storing that data. This now common internet practice is a double edged sword though; while it seems creepy that there are algorithms “learning” what you like and tend to search for, this also speeds up the searches and generally works very well. At the cost of your privacy, Google helps you search faster. That’s not the only incentive, though. Google auctions user data to the highest bidder, and in 2011[smartly] zoned out referral keywords that websites were able to gather. Google now sells the keyword data to websites through their Adwords marketing platform.

Google Image Search Ethics

There is even a “marked for reuse” filter, allowing you to get results (in an image search) that are alright to download and use for yourself.


tldr; When Googling something, use “” for results within a single domain instead of that site’s own search bar. Specify the date to find time-sensitive pages. Use “info:” when learning about a new topic or niche to quickly find related websites, find the good websites from there and use them to crosscheck themselves (for fact checking and price checking).

That’s it for now. There are other search engines that might be worth looking into (Amazon has a search engine called A9) but I haven’t used that as much. There are also search engines that specialize in some type of content (pipl), but that is an entirely different animal. Cheers!

Bonus – I made my own custom search engine! It searches pages in this domain, try it out!

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