Web Searching 101

By | August 21, 2021

Boolean search

Utilizes special words or symbols to limit, widen, or define the scope of your search.

These include: ANDORNOT, and NEAR, as well as the symbols + (add) (subtract) ” ” (quote).

Boolean Operator Symbol Explanation Example
AND + All words must be present in the results football AND nfl
OR Results can include any of the words paleo OR primal
NOT Results include everything but the term that follows the operator diet NOT vegan
NEAR The search terms must appear within a certain number of words of each other swedish NEAR minister

  • Boolean operators need to be in all uppercase letters for the search engine to understand them as an operator and not a regular word.
  • Most search engines default to the OR Boolean operator, meaning it will search for any word, but not necessarily all of them.
  • Not all search engines support these Boolean operators. For example, Google understands  but doesn’t support NOT.

Boolean Search Examples


free AND games  -  Helps find free games by including both words.
"video chat app" iOS AND Windows  -  Searches for video chat apps that can run on both Windows and iOS devices.


"open houses" saturday OR sunday -  Locate open houses that are open either day.
"best web browser" macOS OR Mac  -  If you're not sure how the article might be worded, you can try a search like this to cover both words.


2019 movies -comedy - Finds movies mentioning 2019, but excludes all pages that have the word comedy.
"paleo recipes" -sugar - Locates web pages about paleo recipes but ensures that none of them include the word sugar

Google Advanced Searching

Google Image – Dedicated image search page

Common search techniques

Search social media

Put @ in front of a word to search social media. For example: @twitter.

Search for a price

Put in front of a number. For example: camera $400.

Search hashtags

Put in front of a word. For example: #throwbackthursday

Exclude words from your search

Put - in front of a word you want to leave out. For example, jaguar speed -car

Search for an exact match

Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, "tallest building".

Search within a range of numbers

Put .. between two numbers. For example, camera $50..$100.

Combine searches

Put “OR” between each search query. For example, marathon OR race.

Search for a specific site

Put “site:” in front of a site or domain. For example, site:youtube.com or site:.gov.

Search for related sites

Put “related:” in front of a web address you already know. For example, related:time.com.

See Google’s cached version of a site

Put “cache:” in front of the site address.

Important: Not all search operators return exhaustive results.

Bing Advanced Searching

Reverse Image Search on Bing

Select the camera button at the right side of the search field > give it a URL to an online image, or upload a photo.

Bing Visual Search

After running the search using an image, you can find others that look like yours, locate related searches, and more.

Bing reverse image search

Bing’s Advanced Video Search Options

There are several advanced search options when looking for videos on Bing. They’re stored in a hidden toolbar that’s only visible after selecting Filter.

Bing video search with advanced filters

There are also a date, length and resolution filters to narrow your scope.

Bing News advances search

Symbols to Streamline Your Search

These Bing search modifiers are other ways to get better results when searching for things:

Bing Advanced Search Options
Symbol Example What It Does
+ +lifewire +help Finds web pages that contain all the terms preceded by the + symbol
” “ “contact us” Finds the exact words in a phrase
() site:lifewire.com -(iPod tablet) Finds or excludes web pages that contain a group of words
AND, & house AND sale Finds web pages that contain all the terms or phrases (this is how normal searches work by default, and it’s an example of a Boolean search)
NOT, – lifewire -buy Excludes web pages that contain a term or phrase
OR, | iPod OR iPhone Finds web pages that contain either of the terms or phrases

Advanced Bing Search Operators

The following are other search tips you can use to narrow down the results on Bing:

Bing Advanced Search Terms
Keyword Example What It Does
contains: tennis contains:gif Keeps results focused on sites that have links to the file types that you specify
ext: example resume ext:docx Returns only web pages with the file extension that you specify
filetype: filetype:pdf Returns only web pages created in the file type that you specify
inanchor:, inbody:, intitle: intitle:2019 inbody:wimbledon Returns only web pages that contain the specified term in the metadata
ip: ip: Finds sites that are hosted by a specific IP address
language: tennis language:fr Returns only web pages for a certain language (requires the language code)
loc:, location: loc:US Returns only web pages from a specific country/region. To focus on two or more, use a logical OR to group them (requires the country or region code)
prefer: tennis prefer:history Adds emphasis to a search term or another operator to help focus the results
site: site:lifewire.com iPhone Returns web pages that belong to a specific website. Also works for TLDs (such as site:edu)
feed: feed:technology Finds RSS or Atom feeds about the search term
hasfeed: site:cnn.com hasfeed:world Finds web pages that contain an RSS or Atom feed on a website for the terms you search for
url: url:lifewire.com Checks whether the domain or URL is in the Bing index