Search can be a frustrating task. For example, you’re looking for information about a local bank, but you find local blood banks in the results also. Or you want a local pub named after a famous place, but the results show you the famous place, not the pub. It’s hard to blame the search engine for that, but really, how can you get more specific results? What can a searcher do to narrow down the possible search results?
What you need to speed up your searches is to use Boolean search terms (also known as Boolean operators). Named for George Boole, a 19th Century mathematician, these terms make your search queries more specific. DO NOT FEAR that this is too “techy” for you. I’ve been using these since, well, forever, and they’re simple and easy.
To use these terms, type them along with your other terms in a standard search box or ruler, like this:
The Most Popular Boolean Search Terms
My personal favorite search term is the use of quotes ( ” ” ). For example, to search for a specific business in your town, you can type [business name] near me OR “[business name]” near me. The latter would probably get the specific result you’re expecting.
The most popular terms you might find helpful are:
” ” Text that has those exact words in that exact order.
AND Text that includes both words. This is Google’s default, so you don’t need to include this in their searches.
OR Text that has at least one of the two words (maybe both, but at least one).
WITHOUT Text that includes the first but not include the second word.
There are many other terms you can use, and this is a good beginner’s lesson in understanding and using these operators. I will say, though, that the ones listed above, and specifically quotes, are the one I use three or four times a day when doing research.
Boolean search terms are the best way to speed up your searches. They’re simple additions that make your searches more narrow, so your results are more specific. They save you time and effort, and can be used on desktop and mobile.