How to find information from Internet - Part IX Advanced Search Techniques

We have discussed a variety of ways for performing simple search. For most searches, the tips and commands discussed is sufficient to get reasonably good result.

However, there are times when simple search functions can not provide satisfactory result. In such cases, one should opt for advanced features provided by all search engines.

Limit the Scope of your Search

Sometimes, we know exactly the word or phrase or event we want but search engines display too many pages that only confuses us. In such cases, use limiting factors or filters to narrow down the scope of your search and cut down all unwanted junk.

Some of the popular filters, usually available in Advanced version of a search engine are:

1. Language
Use of this filter drastically cuts down number of unwanted pages displayed
2. Occurrence
By specifying preferred place of occurrence of a word, you may drastically prune number of displayed pages. Some of the popular options are:
  • Search in Title
  • Search in Text
  • Search in URL
  • Search in Links
  • Search anywhere in the page (default)

For example, if you wish to restrict your search for 'World Trade Organization' in title section of a page only, the search expression in Google will be allintitle: "World Trade Organization"

3. Time 
You may specify how old should be the displayed pages by specifying a time limit, e.g.
  • Last three months
  • Last six months
  • Last One year
  • Anytime (default)
4. Exact Phrase
If the search phrase is known, use it in advanced version to filter out unwanted junk For example, if you are looking for commercial agents in Sweden, the Gogle search expression will look like +sweden +"commercial agent"
5. Domain Search

This is very helpful when you know the website you want to search but aren't sure where the information is located within that site.

For example, if you are looking for website of Dept of Chemicals and you know that host for most Govt websites is National Informatics Center (NIC) - you may search Google with following search expression:

department of chemicals site:

Limit The Format of your Search Result

Sometimes, we want documents in a specified format only. Most search engines allow us to search for

  • Adobe Acrobat documents (PDF format)
  • Microsoft Word Documents (.doc files)
  • Microsoft Power Point Presentation (.ppt files)
  • Microsoft Excel file (.xls files) etc.

So, if you are looking for documents on 'Handbook of Export Import Policy' in PDF format the search expression in Google will be as follows:

Handbook of Export Import Policy filetype:pdf

There are many such powerful search tools that can significantly improve your search result and at the same time reduce search time. Unfortunately, there is little standardization among search engines and one has to familiarize oneself with search engine specific commands.

Related Links:

Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 16 August 8' 2002

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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