A long time ago, we asked our regular contributors through e-mail, People who are Google Search geniuses, what is your pro tip for finding stuff that no one else seems to find? We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published.


1. One very powerful, but undocumented, search tool, is the AROUND function. If you wanted to research Barack Obama’s interactions with Australia, you could simply include both terms in a search, but you’d find thousands of articles in which these two terms may appear many paragraphs apart, and bear no relation to one another.

But if instead you search “obama” AROUND(10) “australia” then the first results will be one in which Obama appears within ten words of Australia. NOTE: for this to work, both search terms must be in quotes, AROUND must be capitalized, and the number must be in parentheses.

(-) Knowing how and when to use the minus sign in a search query. i.e. search George Washington -gwu.edu

<number>..<number> to search for a range of numbers. For example, 1..10

(*) as a wildcard in quoted search strings to stand for one or many unknown words. “The * cat” will return things like The angry cat, the big brown cat…

(+) will ensure that a word is included in every search result. (google got rid of the + operator, so now you have to put ” around single words or use search tools->results->verbatim)

Quotes surrounding a phrase will ensure that exact phrase turns up.

Triple quotes “””word””” will get you ‘actual verbatim’ and leave out what google thinks is relevant.

filetype: .whatever will make sure URLs have that extension at the end.

inurl: some.words_here will make sure whatever follows shows up in the URL. Good for refining your search by domain name.

intitle: word returns sites with ‘word’ in the title bar – also useful for index or mp4, mp3

site:sitename.com will return only results from that site

add ‘forum’ to the search to find others with the same question.

Add synonyms: Google adds some automatically – To add your own – Custom Search > Search features > Synonyms tab > Add Type a search term, and then add one or more synonyms for that term. Click OK. to search simultaneously for the synonyms of that word.

Use Google Scholar- https://scholar.google.com/ to find only relevant articles from academics, case studies, etc. Great for medical as well.

That’s all I can remember off the top of my head. So if you search for “lincoln park -square -oak” you have narrowed the search in a very useful way.

2. Use as few words as possible.

3. Understand that you don’t really ask the search engine a question but rather just inputting string(s) of words to match some database. I put keywords and nothing else.

Add or reject keywords to narrow if you need to.

You can search specifically by domain.

You can search for specific file types.

Understand Boolean

Once you receive results, middle mouse click links to open them in multiple tabs. Review and close the irrelevant ones.

4. Use a piece of the answer in quotes as your query.

5. Putting a / between first and last name for a person will search for the names together E.g, searching John Smith Podiatrist will give you podiatrists with both the names like John Wilson or Fred Smith, Searching John/Smith will only bring up John Smiths Hope this helps 🙂

6. Google stuff the old way. Search for the potential title of the article that would have the information you need, rather than just asking a question. Search for “Cherries bad for dogs” vs “can my dog eat cherries?”

Doing this helps you find the answers, not just more people with the same question.


You can find pages with an exact phrase, omit certain words, look up numbers, file types, and all on the domain it’s on. Seriously, you don’t even need to be good at phrasing things, just put in what you need and you’ll probably end up finding it.

8. Here are a few tips that I’ve used over the years:

  • Tech problems: add [SOLVED]
  • Downloads: add “index of/”
  • False Positives: use -FalsePositiveTerm (ex: apple bugs -fruit)
  • Specific text: use ” ” (ex: “Error: Failure configuring Windows Updates.”)
  • Exact word, exact spelling, no synonyms: use +term (ex: +Sirturi vs. Sirturi)
  • Logical statements: use OR / AND (ex: Mac laptop AND charging)
  • Number ranges: use .. (ex: 2008..2012)
  • Search terms near each other: use AROUND (ex: Trump AROUND(10) illegal)
  • Where the terms appear: use intitle: / inurl: / intext: / inanchor: / allintitle: / allinurl: / allintext:
  • Specific file type: use filetype:
  • Specific date: use date:
  • Date range: use daterange:
  • Synonyms: use ~

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Last Update: February 16, 2017