Handy Google Search Tricks

For the majority of the people who submit the approximate 2 billion search queries each day on Google, only a fraction of them make use of Google’s extended search functionality. These robust features allow you to refine and direct your search in novel ways that would otherwise take hours of research.

Below are some of the useful tricks and shortcuts you can use next time you’re doing some work on the search engine.

Unit Conversions

There’s no need to look around the internet for various converters of currency, weight, length etc. Simply pose your query using the known and unknown measurement and the known value to get an immediate answer. For example, ‘12 miles in kilometres’.


Often when you use a keyword you also want content that, while not directly containing the keyword you submitted, is still topically similar. Using a tilde (~) in front of your search terms will return related keyword results as well.

Search a Site

When you only want results from a specific website then simply put ‘site:example.co.za’ in front of your search query. For example, if you’re looking for Nelson Mandela results on Tumblr then you type in: ‘site:tumblr.com nelson mandela’.

This is handy for websites with massive amounts of content but limited built in search functionality.

Search in a Type of Website

Say you’re looking for some insights or opinions expressed about tax law, but only want content from reliable government sources. Putting “site:gov” (a TLD for government) will ensure that only results for official government websites will be returned.

It can also be used to look for country specific sites, such as site:co.za for South Africa.

Search for a File Type

Looking for an actual study or document rather than just web content? Putting ‘filetype:pdf’ in front of your query will return directly accessible PDF documents on that topic. It can also be used to find other file types such as: .doc, .xls, .wmv, .mp3 etc.

Search Within a URL Term

Refine your search down to just pages that have a specific keyword in their URL. For instance, if you just want content from the news section of websites, they will often use the path ‘/news’ so place ‘inurl:news’ before your query to return news results.

Show Search Tools

Clicking on the ‘Search Tools’ tab just below the query box on Google will give you access to a broad range of filtering criteria including: searching in sites you’ve been to before, country specific sites and how recently the content was posted.