It wouldn’t be wrong to say that you search on Google for just about anything these days. Want to know who someone is, Google him or her. Want to know what people are saying about that perfect holiday bungalow? Google it. Want to know what people are saying about you? You can Google that too.

All you need to do is type up what you are looking for, in whatever way you wish, and as naturally as you would like. Google has made great headway in Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence and is far enough to be able to process most search requests and give the results that would be most useful. But there are still times that could lead to frustratingly long hours of searching if you are looking for something just a bit more complicated than “weather in Colombo”.

Bright Side came up with the following list and we think it’s a great start to better searching. In this article, we have rearranged the original list to what we think is most relevant to last. We’ve also added in our own two cents where we thought it was required.


1/ This or that

When you don’t remember exactly what you are looking for, you can type in as many variations as you want. This is specially useful for names of people of places where you remember the first name but are unsure of the last.

You just have to say “or” in your search or if you want to feel a little like a programmer: “|” (Programmers will recognize that symbol immediately).


This "or" that: Google handles the rest
This “or” that: Google handles the rest


2/ Search using synonyms

The English Language is rich in synonyms. And this can be convenient when researching online. If you need to find websites on a given subject rather than those that include a specific phrase, add the “~” symbol to your search.

For example, if you search for “Healthy ~food”, Google will pull up results relevant to healthy eating, recipes and even healthy dining options.


Search Google using Synonyms - try healthy ~food
Search Google using Synonyms


3/ Searching within a website

Many a times, you would be looking for some information from within a website. You may have read something interesting and might want to re-read it or share it. In many cases you might even know that a specific website will have the information you are looking for. You can simply type out the site name and the specific keyword or phrase you are looking for within that site.

The simplest example and something I use many a times is movie reviews and ratings on The search would go something like this: “ the matrix”.


Google search for the Matrix
Google search for the Matrix


4/ Using time frames

Let’s say you are looking for some period based information or something between two dates, you can do so by adding “…” between the two dates. Let’s look at “scientific discoveries 1900…2000”.

Scientific discoveries
Result for “scientific discoveries 1900…2000”


5/ Find similar websites

When you are looking for something very similar to something you already like, you can use “related:” to search for it. An example of this would be to find branded shoe options. Let’s see what happens when we look for “”.


Related search
Results for “”


6/ Look for an exact phrase

Can’t remember where you have heard a particular phrase? You can Google that too. Simply enclose it in double quotes. The only caveat is that you must try and remember the phrase word for word – in most cases. Let’s see what happens when we look for “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.


Search result for "Before anything else, preparation is the key to success"
Search result for “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”


The above search gives a pretty good set of results and gives us the satisfactory answer to our query. But you should remember that this is Google and Google pretty much indexes everything. So you should be prepared for various types of results for different searches. The next screenshot would give you a clearer picture of what we mean.


Search results for "I solemnly swear that I am upto no good"
Search results for “I solemnly swear that I am upto no good”


As you can see, this might not be the best set of results if you wanted to know more about who the author is, when the phrase was used and who it was said by. But don’t get disheartened. Scrolling down and looking for more results will eventually get you there.

Google can’t always spoon feed you after all!


7/ Remove some words

Let’s say you wanted to look for something that would usually bring up related results that you are DEFINITELY NOT looking for, you could provide some “negative keywords” by adding the minus sign to your query. For example, if you want to find out about interesting books but want to avoid sites that would prompt you to buy them, you could try something like “interesting books -buy”.



8/ Searching for title or URL

To help find the key words and name of an article, type “intitle:“ before the search term, without any spaces between them. In order to find the words from a URL, use “inurl:”.



Other variations you can try are:

allintitle:keyword – It will show you results containing the keyword in the title of the search result.

allinurl:Keyword – Show you all results containing your keyword in result URL.

allintext:keyword – Show you all results containing your keyword in search Text.

allinanchor:keyword – Shows you  links to the pages you’re looking for.


9/ The power of the asterisk

When our cunning memory decides to prevent us from recalling that one key word, phrase, or number we need in order to find what we’re looking for, you can turn to the powerful “*” symbol. Just use this in the place of the word/phrase you can’t remember, and you should be able to find the results you’re looking for.


10/ When lots of words are missing

If it’s the lengthier half of the phrase you can’t remember rather than a single key word, try writing out the first and last words and putting “AROUND + (the approximate number of missing words)” between them. For example, “I wandered AROUND(4) cloud.”


11/Just one more trick

This one is not on Bright Side’s original list but is something that I constantly use and is pretty awesome in it’s own right. Among other things, Google is like a huge dictionary/thesaurus and I love it because it’s always accessible. So if you’re looking to understand more about a word you just heard you would use “define:”, and voila, you would have all the information you need about it.


Search result for "define:discombobulate"
Search result for “define:discombobulate”


There you have it, that’s the list we have for you so far. Am sure there are others out there an we’d love to hear about them. If you do, please leave your comments below.

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