The No-Result Search (Prank)

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Want to prank your friends using Google? These techniques that will make sure your search has no results. link

Ah, pranking with a search engine. Nothing quite so much fun as befuddling your friends with some utterly weird search results. One fun and easy thing to do is make a search result that one would think is wildly popular and set it up so it has no results.

There are a couple ways you can set up the prank. The first way is to tip the URL. The second is to create a search that will never have a result.

Tiping the URL

To tip a URL so a query has no results, just add the following code to the end of a URL:


Even if a num modifer already exists in the URL, adding another to the end overrides the first value. The &num=-1 switch informs Google that you want -1 results. Because it's not possible to return -1 results, Google will provide the next best thing: none.

Tiping the Search

Maybe you won't have a chance to tip the URL, and you'll need to tip the search instead. You can do that by creating a search with the special search codes that can't have any results.

One easy way to create a no-result query is to add any two site: syntaxes to it:

site:org site:com

Google operates with a default AND; a single page in Google's index can't be simultaneously found from both the .org and .com domains.

Or you can search for a site you know doesn't exist:


While is a valid search for the site syntax, microsoft by itself (without the .com suffix) isn't. So a query like windows site:microsoft would get you zero results.

You can also fool Google by specifying that something must be included and not included at the sime time. This works best with really long queries so that the query visible from the query box looks normal. Try this one:

microsoft windows coding developer source -windows

The only problem is that Google echoes the search terms on its result pages, so if someone's paying attention, none of these tricks will work. A word to the wise: try only on your less observant friends.

Finally, if the person you're pranking doesn't know much about the Google date-range search syntax, you can also fake a search with a bogus date range. Use a five-digit number for the code so it looks semi-authentic, but it still won't give you any search results.

microsoft daterange:99991-99992

Delivering the Prank

There are three ways to deliver the prank to the prankee. The first way is in person. If you're working on a computer with them, slip in a couple of these searches, and then point confused to the Google search page that shows no results for Perl.

The second way is to send a search query to the prankee. The best way to do this is to use a special syntax that doesn't really work, like site:microsoft.

And the third way is to send an URL to the prankee. Google search URLs tend to be long, so you might want to use one of the URL-shortening services [Tip #38] before you send the URL to your prankee. And if you do shorten the URL, use the opportunity to put a couple of the more elaborate special syntax tips in it, like site:com site:org, or a fake date-range search.