If you’re unfamiliar with how advanced searching on Google and other search engines work, this is the page for you.
Large search engines, such as Google and Bing have billions of web pages indexed in their servers, so they allow researchers to narrow and widen their search results using what are known as Advanced Search Operators. Sometimes these are referred to as Boolean Operators.
Learning Advanced Search operators is a foundational skill for OSINT research for two reasons: 1) Search engines have an enormous amount of information available and it is important to learn the most efficient way to find the information you’re looking for; and 2) Other sites use advanced search operators as well. For example Twitter has an advanced search page, and it also accepts boolean operators.
In the six short videos below, which were produced by Google and are hosted on YouTube, you’ll see how to conduct Advanced Search Queries on Google and see some examples of how simple advanced searches can be done.
Once you understand how the searches can be conducted on Google you’ll understand how it is done on Bing. The operators might be different, but the same principles apply to both search engines. See the section on Further Reading for details.
Simple Google Search Tips
Filter and Refine Your Google Search Results
Google Search Tip: Find an Exact Phrase
Google Search tip: Search within a Site
Google Search Tip: Missing Words (Wildcard Operator)
Google Search Tips: Search for two things (The ‘OR’ Operator)
If you are interested in learning more about Google advanced searches please visit https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433 and https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/35890.
Bing provides a list of advanced search operators: http://help.bing.microsoft.com/#apex/18/en-us/10001/-1.
For more advanced search techniques and applications simply go online and Google the phrase “Google Hacking” or “Google Dorking.” You will note that search operators may be combined to produce very specific results in your research. As you will see the search techniques can sometimes be used for malicious purposes, which is to be avoided.