How to get better Google search results

Google Search Tips: eliminate results you don't want

— How to get better Google search results —

Fifth in a series of Google search tips.

Read them all:

  1. How to restrict your Google search to a single website
  2. How to search Google Images by color
  3. How to search Google for different kinds of pictures
  4. How to search Google for the newest results
  5. How to get better Google search results

Sometimes Google finds too much. You look for information about making a carrot cake and it gives you seven million results. That’s overwhelming.

Searching Google for how to make a carrot cake: 7 million results!
Searching Google for how to make a carrot cake: 7 million results!

Maybe you want to make a carrot cake for your friend who doesn’t like raisins. You don’t want to search through seven million articles, looking for the ones without raisins. Turns out it’s easy: if you want to exclude something from your search, put a minus in front of it, like so:
Google search results, excluding those with raisins (via minus sign)
Google search results, excluding those with raisins (via minus sign)

Now we’re down to 1.8 million results.

Maybe your friend is allergic to butter (poor thing). You’ll need a recipe without butter. That’s easy– put a minus sign in front of the word “butter” and you’re all set.

Note: put a space in front of the minus sign, and no space after. Them’s the rules.

Google search for how to make a carrot cake, no raisins, no butter
Google search for how to make a carrot cake, no raisins, no butter

By excluding raisins and butter we’re down to 1.4 million results. But we can narrow things down further by putting our original search term (how to make a carrot cake) in quotes. Putting things in quotes tells Google you want those words, in that order, and ideally with that exact phrase.
Google search improved by putting search string in quotes
Google search improved by putting search string in quotes

Notice how the search results are all titled “How to make a carrot cake” or some variation on the phrase– but always, the words are in that order.

The quotation marks get Google’s results down to 29,400 items. But we can do better yet! If you’d rather read about making carrot cakes than watch someone else make one, you’ll want to eliminate the videos. That’s easy: it’s our old friend the minus sign again, and the word “video.”

Google search results: no raisins, no butter, no video.
Google search results: no raisins, no butter, no video.

We still have 15,000 results but they’re very focused. You can be pretty sure that these results will all be pretty much what we want.

So what have we learned here?

  1. Use the minus sign to eliminate terms you don’t want, and
  2. Put your search string in quotes if you’re looking for a phrase.

Don’t hog all the knowledge– share this with a friend. Your friend will thank you and so will I.

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