Advanced Web Searching with Google

Learn how to use the full features of google with dorking and google-fu, to improve your searching efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Published: 2020-03-18
  • Updated: 2020-11-14
  • 15 min read

Advanced google searching, also known as google-fu or google dorking, is using the full capabilities of google (or any other search engine) to find what you’re searching for more efficiently. It’s all about becoming an expert at quickly locating the exact information you need.

Most users know how to search with google but don’t know how to search effectively. There’s a lot more to google than just searching with a simple word or phrase, things like searching for things only on a specific website, excluding certain terms, or finding only PDF files.

This is a complete and concise guide to help you understand and learn how to use the google search engine to its full potential.

Understanding Results in a Glance

The top is the site path, the URL for the webpage.

If there is a PDF on the right-hand side of the top row, it signifies that the result is not a webpage but a PDF file.

Next item down is the webpage title.

Below the title will either be a short page description created by the author, or the first ~150 characters of the webpage.

Some results will contain a date when the webpage was published.

The search terms you used will be shown in bold. Since google also searches for similar words, those words will also be in bold.

Crafting Good Search Queries

Using good search queries will help save you a ton of time you would otherwise spend sifting through the multitude of results you don’t need

Crafting good search queries is all about being focused instead of being vague. The main point here is to be as specific as possible so that google can narrow down the results in accord with your query.

Examples:

Vague: good affordable cars
Specific: recommended 4 door passenger sedan under $40,000

Vague: ipad for sale
Specific: ipad 4 8 inch 900gb new sale

Vague: best dogs
Specific: dogs that are child friendly and easy to train

The following section on search filters and operators will give you multiple tools that help with making your queries more specific.

Search Filters

Search filters are options you can use to make your search more precise. They are formatted as a keyword followed by a colon.

Below is a list of the common available search filters.

Note: make sure not to add a space between the filter and the term. Also, surround your term with quotation marks if it contains a space.

Search within a specific website

The site filter finds pages only within a particular domain and all its subdomains.

Syntax: site:[domain]
Example: site:yahoo.com

Search for related websites

If you want to find similar websites to one you already know, or search for something on similar sites, you would prepend the site URL with the related filter.

Syntax: related:[domain]
Example: related:cnn.com

Search for specific file type

If you only want results that end in a certain file extension, like .pdf or .xml, you would use the filetype filter.

Syntax: filetype:[ext]
Example: filetype:pdf

Search for a specific term within the title of webpage

The intitle filter find pages whose title contains the given search term.

Syntax: intitle:[text]
Example: intitle:"jamaica is cool"

Search for a specific term within body of webpage

Use the intext filter to search for matching text within the body of a webpage.

Syntax: intext:[text]
Example: intext:"george washington"

Search for a specific term within the URL

The inurl filter returns results of pages that have the given term in the URL.

Syntax: inurl:[term]
Example: inurl:vacation

Search for webpages that contain certain links

The link filter will search for all the webpages that have links to the specified URL.

Syntax: link:[url]
Example: link:stevepavlina.com

Search within a certain time range

For results that were uploaded within a certain time range, use the before and after filters. You can use both, or either one.

Syntax: after:[and] and/or before:[date]
Example: tsunami after:2020-01-01

Exclude explicit results

For search results that don’t contain any explicit content use the safesearch filter.

Syntax: safesearch:[text]
Example: safesearch:"sexual education"

Search hashtags

When you need to search for a hashtag, prepend the term with a hash symbol.

Syntax: #[term]
Example: #transformationtuesday

Search social media

Prepending with an at sign will search social media.

Syntax: @[user]
Example: @elonmusk

Search Operators

Search operators work hand-in-hand with filters. They are usually punctuation marks.

Search for an exact match

For results that contain an exact phrase, surround search term with quotation marks. You can also surround a word with quotation marks to tell google that the results need to contain that word.

Syntax: "[term]"
Example: "man and his symbols"

Search for either or

If you want to search for one thing or another, place an OR, or a vertical bar, between the search terms. This will find results for both. Capitalization is required.

Syntax: [term] OR [term] or [term] | [term]
Example: "the red book" OR "psychology of the unconscious"

Combine searches with AND

This will return results that contain both, the term before, and after the AND. You could also use the ampersand.

Syntax: [term] AND [term] or [term] & [term]
Example: "the red book" & "psychology of the unconscious"

Exclude certain results

By adding a hyphen before a term, you will search for everything excluding the words you prepended with the hyphen. Basically, exclude everything that begins with a hyphen.

Syntax: -[term]
Examples: jaguar -cars -car, inception -movie

Adding a number range

Separate two numbers with two periods to get results containing the numbers within the range of the two numbers you used.

Syntax: [n]..[n]
Examples: ipad $100..$600, olympics 1968..1972

Combining Multiple Search Filters & Operators

The real searching power comes from combining multiple filters and operators in a single query. Here are some examples of how you could combine them to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Locate certain threads on a forum:
site:reddit.com/r/luciddreaming "experience"

Find reddit threads that have either “MILD” or “FILD” in the title:
site:reddit.com/r/luciddreaming intitle:MILD | intitle:FILD

Find a PDF book:
filetype:pdf "name of book"

Advance Search Form

If you don’t want to write all the filters and operators by hand you can use googles advanced search form: google.com/advanced_search.

It’s basically a form that can do everything that I’ve mentioned above. It’s more practical to use when you have a lot of filters/operators you need to use, instead of a simple search, with one or two of them.

Search with Google Scholar

If you need to search for academic sources, you can use scholar.google.com.

Search with Google Books

If you only want the search results to be books, you can search with books.google.com.

Image Searching

Search for images with images.google.com or click on the image tab after submitting a regular search.

Advanced image search

Google has useful image searching filters which use at google.com/advanced_image_search. Options include things like image size, colors in image, and type of image (photo, clip art, animated).

Search by image to find similar images or the source of an image

You could also search with an image instead of text, which is also called a reverse image search. Using this method, you can find visually similar images, websites that have that image, and different sizes of the image. It is also an effective method to find the source of an image.

First, click on the image icon (only found on images.google.com or if your in the images results tab).

You’ll notice an input box popup, here you can paste the image URL, or switch to the upload an image tab and upload an image from your computer.

You could also just simply drag and drop the image from your computer or from another browser tab, into the search area.

Find free-to-use images

To find free to use images, open google.com/advanced_image_search, fill out the first input field with your search terms, then at the bottom, click on the drop down parallel to the usage rights label, and choose an option.

I’m Feeling Lucky

Many people don’t know this but by clicking the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button instead of the normal “Google Search”, google will take you directly to the first web page returned for your search query.

Only Display Results Within a Certain Time-frame.

For when you need results that were uploaded within a certain time-frame.

First, click “Tools” on the right-hand side below the search bar.

You’ll notice “Any time” and “All results” will appear. Click on “Any time” and choose a time range.

Change the Number of Results Per Page.

If you want google to display more search results on each page, so that you don’t need to click “next” all the time, you can change it in google.com/preferences.

You can increase results up to 100 per page, instead of the usual 10. Keep in mind that the more results per page, the slower the page will load. Also, if you erase your browser cookies, it will reset your settings.

Limit results to sites from a particular country

If you only want to get search results from sites in a different country, you can choose the country in google.com/preferences. You can only choose one country at a time.

Quick Search Results

Sometimes you just need a quick answer, for this, you have OneBox. Google’s OneBox is the top result that frequently comes up when you search for something. If google can answer your query, then It’ll show up as the first result with the answer you’re looking for. Here are several examples of how you can utilize this feature to find what you’re looking for quickly.

Find simple factual information and statistics

For finding simple factual information quickly, like a statistic, or the birth date of a historical figure, or any other fact that can be answered simply.

Example Queries: thomas edison death, denver elevation, mexico president, sweden capital, radio inventor, texas population

Calculations

When you need to preform a calculation.

Syntax: calc [equation]
Example Queries: calc 1+1, calc 6*(28+45), calc 44 / 7 + 53

Convert units of measurement

Easily convert into various units of measurement.

Syntax: [n] [unit] to [unit]
Example Queries: 1 cup to oz, 10 meters to feet, 100 kg to lbs

Convert currency

Convert currency into any other currency.

Syntax: [n] [currency] to [currency]
Example Queries: 100 usd to shilling, 3000 yen to euro, 10 bitcoin to ruble

Find definitions, synonyms, antonyms

Quickly get the definition of a word, or get its synonyms or antonyms.

Syntax: [word] (definition | synonym | antonym)
Example Queries: define malice, strong synonym, weak antonym, acnestis definition

Tip: if you ever need a definition for any word on this website, highlight the word, then press d. It’ll automatically open google to define the highlighted word.

Translations

Translate into various different languages. For longer terms, surround with quotation marks. Sometimes you won’t get a quick translation of a longer phrase, in that case, just search for translate, then enter the full phrase into the input field. You can also use translate.google.com.

Syntax: [term] to [language]
Example Queries: hello to thai, pancake to hindi, "good morning" to hindi

Check word pronunciation

Check the pronunciation of almost any English word. You can choose between American and British pronunciation.

Syntax: pronounce [word]
Example Queries: pronounce gingerbread, pronounce phenom, pronounce through

If you want to hear the pronunciation of any other spoken language, you can use translate. If it has a community verified mark, then that means it has been verified by native speakers of the language.

Quick flight cost estimates

Get a quick estimate for how much a flight would cost.

Syntax: [location] to [location]
Example Queries: new york to baghdad, paris to berlin, thailand to iceland

Track flight status

Check the current status of any flight.

Syntax: [flight number]
Example Query: BA 117

Track your package

You don’t need to visit the shipping companies website in order to track your package, just paste the tracking number in google and search.

Syntax: [tracking number]
Example Query: 934739245702

Check a telephone area code

To find the location of a telephone area code just search for the area code along with the phrase area code.

Syntax: area code [area code]
Example Queries: area code 929, 553 area code

Check your IP address

To find your public IP address, search for ip.

Query: ip

Check a UPC code

Check what a universal product code (UPC) is for.

Syntax: [UPC code]
Example Query: 772195242762

Search with patent number

Search for a patent using its patent number.

Syntax: patent [patent number]
Example Query: patent 4149559

Get a forecast of the weather

Get an eight day weather forecast for any city on the planet. You could also just write weather, if you want to check the weather in your current location.

Syntax: weather [location]
Example Queries: weather mexico city, weather reykjavik, toronto weather, weather

Find the current time anywhere in the world

If you’re curios about what time it is in another city or country, search for the name of the city/country and append/prepend with time.

Syntax: time [location]
Example Queries: time moscow, bangladesh time, time sierra leone

Find upcoming dates for holidays and events

If you need to know the date of an upcoming event or holiday, simply search for the year along with the name of the event or holiday.

Syntax: [year] [holiday | event]
Example Queries: 2030 christmas, 2024 daylight saving time, easter 2028

Check current stock prices

To check current stock prices, search with the stock ticker, or if you don’t know stocks symbol, search for the company name appended with stock.

Syntax: [company] stock or [ticker symbol]
Example Queries: tsla, boeing stock, appl, ford stock

Search for medical information

If you’re not feeling well and would like to check what the cause might be, you can create a query based on the symptoms you’re experiencing. After searching, you’ll see a health conditions related to this search box that includes any health conditions that could be the cause.

Syntax: [explain symptoms]
Example Queries: pain in left chest, feel pain in throat when swallowing, itchy rash around nose

Finding Specific Text in Webpage

This one is less of a google tip and more of a built in browser function, but it’s still a need to know when searching for specific information. If you need to find a certain word or phrase on a webpage, press command+f on mac or ctrl+f on windows. Afterwords a search bar will pop up, then just type your search term and press enter. Works in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Quickly Focus URL Bar

This is also a browser function but is very useful when you need to quickly search for something else. Pressing command+l on mac or ctrl+l on windows will highlight the URL bar and allow you to submit a new search.

Here are some fun searches and easter eggs
Footnotes
  1. https://support.google.com/websearch/
  2. https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433
  3. http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html
  4. https://qcc.libguides.com/c.php?g=113266&p=736819
  5. http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/