The Special Syntaxes


In addition to the basic AND, OR, and quoted strings, Google offers some rather extensive special syntaxes for honing your searches.

Google being a full-text search engine, it indexes entire web pages instead of just titles and descriptions. Additional commands, called special syntaxes, let Google users search specific parts of web pages or specific types of information. This comes in handy when you're dealing with 2 billion web pages and need every opportunity to narrow your search results. Specifying that your query words must appear only in the title or URL of a returned web page is a great way to have your results get very specific without making your keywords themselves too specific.


Some of these syntaxes work well in combination. Others fare not quite as well. Still others do not work at all. For detailed discussion on what does and does not mix, see [Tip #8].
































    intitle:
  • intitle: restricts
    your search to the titles of web pages. The variation, allintitle: finds pages wherein all the words specified make up the title of the web page. It's probably best to avoid the allintitle: variation, because it doesn't mix well with some of the other syntaxes.
    intitle:"george bush"
    allintitle:"money supply" economics
    
  • inurl:
  • inurl: restricts
    your search to the URLs of web pages. This syntax tends to work well for finding search and help pages, because they tend to be rather regular in composition. An allinurl: variation finds all the words listed in a URL but doesn't mix well with some other special syntaxes.
    inurl:help allinurl:search help
    
  • intext:
  • intext: searches
    only body text (i.e., ignores link text, URLs, and titles). There's an allintext: variation, but again, this doesn't play well with others. While its uses are limited, it's perfect for finding query words that might be too common in URLs or link titles.
    intext:"yahoo.com"
    intext:html
    
  • inanchor:
  • inanchor: searches
    for text in a page's link anchors. A link anchor is the descriptive text of a link. For example, the link anchor in the HTML code «a href="http://www.oracle.com»o'reilly and associates«/a» is "O'Reilly and Associates."
    inanchor:"tom peters"
    
  • site:
  • site: allows
    you to narrow your search by either a site or a top-level domain. AltaVista, for example, has two syntaxes for this function (host: and domain:), but Google has only the one.
    site:loc.gov site:thomas.loc.gov site:edu site:nc.us
    
  • link:
  • link: returns
    a list of pages linking to the specified URL. Enter link:www.google.com and you'll be returned a list of pages that link to Google. Don't worry about including the http:// bit; you don't need it, and, indeed, Google appears to ignore it even if you do put it in. link: works just as well with "deep" URLs - http://www.raelity.org/apps/blosxom/ for instance - as with top-level URLs such as raelity.org.
  • cache:
  • cache: finds
    a copy of the page that Google indexed even if that page is no longer available at its original URL or has since changed its content completely. This is particularly useful for pages that change often. If Google returns a result that appears to have little to do with your query, you're almost sure to find what you're looking for in the latest cached version of the page at Google.
    cache:www.yahoo.com
    
  • daterange:
  • daterange: limits
    your search to a particular date or range of dates that a page was indexed. It's important to note that the search is not limited to when a page was created, but when it was indexed by Google. So a page created on February 2 and not indexed by Google until April 11 could be found with daterange: search on April 11. Remember also that Google reindexes pages. Whether the date range changes depends on whether the page content changed. For example, Google indexes a page on June 1. Google reindexes the page on August 13, but the page content hasn't changed. The date for the purpose of searching with daterange: is still June 1. Note that daterange: works
    with Julian [Tip #12], not Gregorian dates (the calendar we use every day.) There are Gregorian/Julian converters online, but if you want to search Google without all that nonsense, use the FaganFinder Google interface (http://www.faganfinder.com/engines/google.shtml), offering daterange: searching via a Gregorian date pull-down menu. Some of the tips deal with daterange: searching without headaches, so you'll see this popping up again and again in the tutorial.
    "George Bush" daterange:2452389-2452389 
    neurosurgery daterange:2452389-2452389
    
  • filetype:
  • filetype: searches
    the suffixes or filename extensions. These are usually, but not necessarily, different file types. I like to make this distinction, because searching for filetype:htm and filetype:html will give you different result counts, even though they're the same file type. You can even search for different page generators, such as ASP, PHP, CGI, and so forth - presuming the site isn't hiding them behind redirection and proxying. Google indexes several different Microsoft formats, including:


    PowerPoint (PPT), Excel (XLS), and Word (DOC).
    homeschooling filetype:pdf
    "leading economic indicators" filetype:ppt
    
  • related:
  • related:, as you might expect, finds
    pages that are related to the specified page. Not all pages are related to other pages. This is a good way to find categories of pages; a search for related:google.com would return a variety of search engines, including HotBot, Yahoo!, and Northern Light.
    related:www.yahoo.com related:www.cnn.com
    
  • info:
  • info: provides
    a page of links to more information about a specified URL. Information includes a link to the URL's cache, a list of pages that link to that URL, pages that are related to that URL, and pages that contain that URL. Note that this information is dependent on whether Google has indexed that URL or not. If Google hasn't indexed that URL, information will obviously be more limited.
    info:www.oracle.com info:www.nytimes.com/technology
    
  • phonetutorial:
  • phonetutorial:, as you might expect, looks up
    phone numbers. For a deeper look, see the section [Tip #17].
    phonetutorial:John Doe CA phonetutorial:(510) 555-1212
    
  • As with anything else, the more you use Google's special syntaxes, the more natural they'll become to you. And Google is constantly adding more, much to the delight of regular web-combers.

    If, however, you want something more structured and visual than a single query line, Google's Advanced Search should be fit the bill.