Want to search for a specific phrase? Use the quotation marks

If you are looking for a specific phrase, just typing it into a search engine will probably not get you the results you were hoping for. Search engines might bring back pages that have all the words you entered, but those words most likely will not be in the order you intended or even anywhere near each other.

For instance, say you had a very specific search query in mind such as:

laptop with external video card

Your results may bring pages that have laptop, video card, external video card … and the list goes on. Probably not what you expected, to say the least.

 

¿How to do a more efficient search?

There’s a simple way to make your searches more streamlined, and cut out much of the extraneous results that we get so often. Using quotation marks around your phrases takes care of this problem. When you use quotation marks around a phrase, you are telling the search engine to only bring back pages that include these search terms exactly how you typed them in order, proximity, etc. For example:

laptop with external video card”

Your search results now will only bring back pages that have all these words in the exact order that you typed them in. This little trick saves a lot of time and frustration and works in nearly any search engine.

 

¿Do you want to find a specific?

You also have some flexibility in how you order the phrase and other words you’d like to be found with it. For example, say you would like to look for our standard example of Nobel Prize Winners, but you’d like a specific date range. In Google, you could use this search:

He also has some flexibility in how he orders the phrase and other words he would like to find with it. For example, suppose you want to look for our standard example of laptop with external video card, but you want a specific date range. At Google, you can use this search:

“laptop with external video card” 2015…2017

You just told Google to bring back only the results for laptop with external video card, in exactly that word order, but then you also specified that you only want to see results in the date range of 2015 to 2017.

 

¿Do you want to find a specific Phrase?

Easy – just put your descriptive modifiers in front of the specific phrase, separated by a comma (we’ll keep our date range on there as well):

dell, technology  “laptop with external video card” 2015…2017

 

¿Do you want to exclude certain words?

Use the minus sign (-) to tell Google (or most any other search engine) that you are specifically not interested in seeing those words in your search results (this is a distinct feature of Boolean searchmethods):

“laptop with external video card” -science, -literature 2015…2017

 

Tell Google Where You Want the Phrase To Be Found

Going back to searching just for the phrase; you can also specify where in the page you would like Google to find this specific phrase. How about just in the title?

Use the following search string to find the phrase you’re looking for in the title of any web page:

allintitle:  “laptop with external video card”

You can specify a phrase search only in the text on the page itself with this query:

allintext:  “laptop with external video card”

You want to specify that you only want to see this phrase in the URL of the search results, whichcan bring back really interesing sources:

allinurl: “laptop with external video card”

 

¿Do you want to find a specific file?

Search for a specific phrase within different file types. What does this mean? Google and other search engines index HTML pages, but also classify and index documents: Word, PDF, etc. files. Try to get really interesting results:

“laptop with external video card” filetype:pdf

This will bring back results that feature your specific phrase, but it will only bring back PDF files.

 

The quotes can be an incredibly powerful but simple way to make your searches much more effective.

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