A Reminder about Advanced Operators
Increase the applicability of results while cutting the number of useless results. It is possible. Many open source investigators are aware of the techniques. The few outlined below are not intended to be a course in any sense, rather they are reminders of what can be done. There are scores of these relatively simple steps you can take – actually about 100 of them. We teach many of these shortcuts, called by some Google Hacks, referred to by others as Advanced Operators. They will work on Google, many also work on Yahoo. Some may work on other search sites.
These are not actual hacking activities – rather they are “Boolean” techniques built into systems that allow a researcher to make full use of the power of search engines.
When used properly, they can simultaneously cut search time and improve the result. The irony of Advanced Operators is that they provide better answers to queries by reducing the number of results, and eliminating the “noise” that search engines generate.
These advanced operators require thought in their use – you must know why you are using a particular one. They are not hit and miss propositions.
The most common are the AND and OR—both capitalized. Many search engines do not require an AND when searching for sites that have both two terms; they assume the AND between words. Many websites require an OR if the searcher wants either term, but not necessarily both terms. They are entered in the search block as xxxx AND yyyy or xxxx OR yyyy.
For exact listing of words in order, use quotation marks around the words in the search box as “fourscore and seven years ago.”
There are many other useful types of advanced operators, including site, filetype, link and numbers range. There are many others but these serve to illustrate their usage. These advanced operators are usually placed after the key words being sought.
Site restricts the search to a single website or domain. To use it, enter the key words and follow with site:xxxx where xxxx is the URL or domain you want to restrict the search to. Note that there is no space between the site and the domain name or URL.
Filetype is useful because often you will be looking for information in a certain type of file. Generally pdfs, power points, and databases are types of files created by the knowledgeable or experts. The information contained in these types of files is often more accurate than information found elsewhere on the web. To use this advanced operator enter the key words and follow with filetype:xxx where xxx is the designation of the filetype. Some users have had good results on some search engines using ext: rather than filetype:. Again, note that there is no space between the filetype: or ext: and the type of file.
Link is useful because others with similar interests may link to that page. That expands the search from a page, but only to those sites that have links to that page. The Link: operator is different in that there are no key words. The operator is simple: link:url you want to check.
Numbers Range is useful for restricting the search to a range of numbers. This is most often useful when you are interested in material found in certain years, but it may be used for other number ranges as well. In this case enter the search term(s) and the years of concern. There is no colon. The search looks like xxxx xxxx 2014..2015. Two dots separate the numbers of the years.
To get some familiarity with the ease of use of these advanced operators:
Try searching for “apples and oranges”
Try searching for tomato AND apple; note the size returned
Try searching for tomato OR apple, note the size returned
Try searching for ISIL and ISIS on the New York Times. isil AND isis site:nytimes.com/
Try searching for isil OR isis filetype:pdf. isil OR isis filetype:pdf
Try searching for link:reuters.com
Try searching for tomato apple 2014..2016
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