Pro Googling Tips: A Google Search Operators Guide

Google is a very powerful tool, especially if applied correctly. I once met someone who listed “googling” as a skill in his resume and that landed him the job. Cool, yeah? Using Google search operators correctly (that yield desired results) is the skill, as running a simple google search leaves you with millions of results.

Google Search operators 

Google Search operators are combinations of words and symbols that improve your search results. This works by focusing on certain keywords and excluding others, which allows you to use Google more accurately and effectively.

Search Operators include:

Boolean operators

A logic, expression, function, or theory based on the work of George Boole is considered Boolean. The boolean operator is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords with operators or modifiers such as AND and OR to further produce more relevant results.

Boolean operators can be used on any search engine: Google, Linked In, or even Facebook. These operators tell the search engine how to use the keywords in the search.

Punctuation marks

Using punctuation marks like Quotations, hyphens, periods, and others singly or in combination while searching would produce significantly accurate results. 

  1. Symbols (such as @ or $)
  2. Advanced Search Operators

Advanced search operators are commands that need additional information (such as a website or a related term) to work. They filter search results more than basic operators. They include site, filetype, and others

Search engine optimization (SEO) employs these combinations, operators, or commands frequently.

Search Operators

Boolean operators


Put AND (all caps) between two words if you want your results to include both.

Example: Schools AND Canada. 

This limits the search results to only those documents, articles, or sites containing the two keywords.


Putting  OR (all caps) between two words to combine searches. Use it to search for results that have one of those words but not both.

Example: High school OR College

Punctuation marks

“Quotation marks”

Put quotes around search terms to let you search for an exact match for that word or phrase. All results will have your terms in them. 

Example: “Free PDF” 

Gives you all Free PDF search results without just “Free” or just “PDF”.

– Hyphen

If you want to exclude a term from your search, include a hyphen before that word.

Example: College-High schools

You just want only higher institutions, not high school colleges

~ Tilde 

Use tilde when you want synonyms to appear in the result. 

Example: music ~classes

Here you only get music classes, lessons, coaching, etc.

( ) Parenthesis

Put a search term between parentheses to group commands.

Example: (High school OR College) educational institutions.

.. Two Periods

Use two periods to search within 2 number ranges.

Example: movies 2000..2008


| Vertical bar

Same purpose as OR.

Example: Highschool | College

Highschool OR College

# Hashtags

Use this symbol to search for hashtags.

Example: #freepdfs

@ Symbol

Use this symbol to search for results on social media.

Example: @instagram

$ Dollar sign

Use a dollar sign to search for prices. You can use a different currency sign to search for prices in that currency.

Example: Books $2000

Advanced Search Operators


Use this to search within a specific website or domain only. -Site: is also great when you want to research a company/person/brand but don’t want their own content to appear

Example: Carl Pei

This  searches for mentions of Carl Pei on


Filter by a certain file type related to your search.

Example: Warren Buffett filetype:pdf

This filters out all the clickbait news Buffett news articles you don’t want to read


This finds websites with content similar to a certain website.



Find news related to a particular location.

Example: Elon Musk location:Sanfrancisco


Find the definition of a word.

Example: define:blog


Find a URL with a certain word or phrase.

Example: phone model inurl:Samsung

How to use Google Search operators

Google Search operators have a variety of uses. They can be used to find specific information the same way you would search for any topic or keyword 

  1. Choose your  topic of interest 
  2. Depending on what your search result is for, decide if you want to narrow your search by excluding certain results or looking for information from one particular website or domain 
  3. Use a suitable search operator to perform your specific search. 
  4. In the Google Search box, enter your search term and search operator.
  5. Press “enter” or “go” on your keyboard or pad. Google will return a range of filtered results based on your search term and search operator.

Pro Tips for using Google Search operators

Google Search operators are valuable research tools when you understand how they work. Application in your personal or work field gives desired results. These six tips would help you use  them effectively:

  1. Combine search operators.

A combination of the right search basic and advanced commands together helps to narrow your search further.

Example: “Free PDF” Warren Buffett filetype:pdf

  1. Use a hyphen.

Do not forget to use a hyphen frequently to avoid unnecessary content. Exclude terms that are not valuable to your search.

Example: “Free PDF” -paid -amazon

  1. Remove spaces between commands and search terms.

Do not leave spaces between a command or search term; this gives you a clean search and will likely give you the best results.

  1. Identify pages that are not secure.

Website URLs that start with HTTPS are secure, while URLs that start with HTTP aren’t secure. Search for unsecured pages using this command: -inurl:https.

  1. Plagiarism check.

Check if your content has been plagiarised (copied) by searching for a phrase and excluding your site.

Example: intext: “Identify pages that are not secure” 

  1. Know how Google categorizes a site.

To learn how Google has categorized a site, Use the related: command to find similar sites, how they rank on search results and how they are categorized.

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