Google Custom Search Tips

This document introduces basic search concepts, and describes advanced techniques that produce more efficient search results.

Topics:


Getting Started with Search

To search for a document, type a few descriptive words in the search box, and press the Enter key or click the search button. A results page appears with a list of documents and web pages that are related to your search terms, with the most relevant search results appearing at the top of the page. By default, only pages that include all of your search terms are returned. So to broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms. You do not need to include "and" between the terms. For example, to search for crime recidivism pdf documents, type the following:

Google Custom Search Engine uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. For instance, Google Custom Search Engine analyzes not only the candidate page, but also the pages that link to it, too. Google Custom Search Engine also prefers pages in which your query terms are near each other. Every search result lists one or more snippets, or excerpts from the document, to display the search terms in context. In the snippet, your search terms are displayed in bold text so that you can quickly determine if that result is from a page or document you want to visit.

Spelling

For searches in some languages, a single spelling suggestion is returned with the results for queries where the spell checker has detected a possible spelling mistake. The spell checker supports the following languages by default:

The spell checker feature is context sensitive.

Your browser's language setting affects how Google Custom Search Engine handles spelling corrections.

For information about how to change your browser's language setting, read the help system for the browser.

Capitalization

Google Custom Search Engine searches are not case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are handled as lower case. For example, searches for "george washington," "George Washington," and "George washington" return the same results.

Common Words

Because they tend to slow down your search without improving the results, Google Custom Search Engine ignores some terms, including:

If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can enclose a series of words with quotation marks and do a phrase search. For example, to search for documents about correction population, type the following:

Date Sort

By default, search results are sorted by relevance, with the most relevant result appearing at the top of the page. If you want to sort the documents by date instead, click the Sort by Date link. The most recent document appears at the top of the page and the date of each file is returned in the results. Results that do not contain dates are displayed at the end and are sorted by relevance.

Numbers

When you search for numbers, do not use exponential numbers, such as "1e10," or negative integers, such as "-12."

Numbers that are separated by commas are treated as separate figures, not fractional numbers; that is, the comma is treated as a term separator, not a decimal separator. For example, if you type "3,75", the search query is treated as a search for two separate terms, "3" and "75", not the decimal fraction, "three and three quarters." Commas that separate every three digits are ignored and are not necessary. For example, both "10,000" and "10000" are treated alike.

Widening Your Search

You can expand your search by using the OR operator. To retrieve pages that include either word A or word B, use an uppercase OR between terms. For example, to search for cyber crime or hate crime, type the following:

The pipe (|) operator can also be used in place of “OR.”. For example, to search for a publication for either Corrections or Prosecutions, type the following:

The pipe ( ) operator can also be used to Group multiple terms or search operators to control how the search is executed. For example, to search for an state law enforcement or local law enforcement, type the following:

Refining Your Search

Since Google Custom Search Engine returns only web pages that contain all of the words in your query, refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. The refined query returns a subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query. If that does not get the results that you want, you can try to exclude words, search for exact phrases, or restrict the search to a range of numbers. These techniques are described in the following subsections.

Word Exclusion

If your search term has more than one meaning, you can focus your search by adding a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign. You can daisy chain a list of words you want to exclude.

For example, to search for crime exclude search results about the property or drugs, type the following query:

Google Custom Search Engine returns pages about crime that do not contain the word "property" or "drugs."

Phrase Searches

Phrase searches are useful when you are searching for famous sayings or specific names. You can search for an exact phrase or name in the following ways:

Advanced Search Operators

Google Custom Search Engine supports several advanced operators, which are query words that restricts your search to a smaller set of documents. When you enter your search query, do not add a space between the search operator and the search terms.

Search Operator Description Example
filetype: Restricts the search to specific file types such as Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, or Word documents. Type the filetype: operator followed by the file extension. Typing cars filetype:pdf in the search box returns only PDF files about cars.
intext:

Restricts the search to documents that contain the search word in the titles or body text of the documents. Google Custom Search Engine does not search for the query word in the metadata, anchors, or urls.

Typing intext:google returns documents that mention the word "google" in their title or body text.

intitle:

Restricts the search to documents that contain the search word in the HTML title.

Typing intitle:google search returns documents that mention the word "google" in their HTML title, and mention the word "search" in the title, body text, anchor, or anywhere else in the document.

inurl:

Restricts the search to documents that contain the search word in the URL.This operator works on words, not URL components such as punctuation. Slashes ("/"), for example, are ignored.

Typing inurl:google search in the search box returns documents that mention the word "google" in their URL and mention the word "search" in the URL, body text, title, or anywhere else in the document.

Typing inurl:google/search in the search box returns the same documents as the previous example. The slash in the search term is altogether ignored.

site:

Restricts the search to documents in a web site. If you do not specify the web site and just type the generic top-level domain, such as .com, .edu, or .org, the search engine returns all documents in the generic top-level domain.

The site: operator lets you extend the search restriction down to directories.

Typing help site:www.google.com in the search box returns pages about help or user documentation within www.google.com.

Typing help site:com in the search box finds pages about help or user documentation within all web sites that end in .com.

Typing site:www.google.com/enterprise/ restricts the search to everything at the enterprise directory level. If the trailing slash is omitted, as in www.google.com/enterprise, all subdirectories are searched.

wildcard: The wildcard: operator enables you to search by word pattern rather than the exact spelling of a term. Google Custom Search Engine supports two wildcard operators:
  • *--Matches zero or more characters

A wildcard query term must satisfy at least one of the following conditions:

  • A sequence of at least 2 characters at the start of a word
  • A sequence of at least 2 characters at the end of a word
  • A sequence of at least 3 characters anywhere in the word

Typing wildcard:go* matches any words that begin with the letters "go".

Typing wildcard:*le matches any words that end with the letters "le".

Typing wildcard:*ear* matches any words that contain the letter sequence "ear" anywhere in the word.