Query Techniques and Special Search Syntax

Targeting Specific Parts of Documents

Full text Search Engines - THESE SHOULD HAVE NO SPACES!

  • Title intitle:
  • Site site:
  • Top-level domain site:
  • URL contents inurl:
  • Links link:

NOTE: Site searches needs to start from the furthest right of the entire URL, while URL searches will search anywhere within the entire URL. For example, for URL searches you could search inurl:disney inurl:edu because the search engine can search the entire URL in pieces. But site searches start from the right and move left. You could not search for site:disney site:edu, but you could search for site:edu disney.

Uniqueness of Queries


You should always be as specific as possible as early as possible into your search. Using many unique words that are similar and related will significantly reduce the number of retrievals that you have. In order to help you do this, you can use search engines:

  • At Ask.com you can use the "related searches" on the right hand side in order to narrow/broaden your search
  • At Google you can use Google Suggest (which appear as you type in your query) as well as the "related searches at the bottom of the page
  • At Yahoo! you can use the suggestions that appear as you type as well as the "also try features" that the bottom of the page
  • Using "means" and "definition:" queries can also narrow things down in any of these search engines
  • If you have different phrases you could search for (i.e. break away, breakaway) if you use a dash between the two words (i.e. break-away) than it will search for all three

Here is an example of how I improved a Disney query with these techniques

Alternative Naming


For People (such as management executives)

Examples of Search Techniques

Note: Even though many of these techniques will work on other general search engines, such as Live, Ask, and Mamma, I have focused these examples on Google and Yahoo because I personally use them the most. Feel free to use whatever general search engine you feel is most effective.

Find pages containing… Google Yahoo
the words disney and movies disney movies disney movies
the exact phrase "Walt Disney Pictures" "Walt Disney Pictures" "Walt Disney Pictures"
information on disney or pixar "Walt Disney Pictures" OR Pixar "Walt Disney Pictures" OR Pixar
pages containing disney pictures but not disneyland "Walt Disney Pictures" -disneyland "walt disney pictures" -disneyland
information on Disney films (and movies, cartoons…) ~films Disney synonym film disney
contain the word in the page title intitle:Disney intitle:Disney
contain multiple words in the page title allintitle:Walt Disney Pictures intitle:walt intitle:disney intitle:pictures
search only one Web site history site:http://disney.go.com/index film site:http://disney.go.com/index
search only this TLD "walt disney pictures" site:edu "walt disney pictures" site:edu
URL contains the term disney inurl:library disney inurl:library
pages that link to Walt Disney Pictures Homepage link:http://disney.go.com/index link:http://www.disney.go.com (Web)
definition of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious define:supercalifragilisticexpialidocious define supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Web)
pages related to Disney Pictures Homepage related:http://disney.go.com/index
information about DIS stock symbol stocks: DIS quote DIS
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