Google search operators and hacks part-2

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Exclude operator (-):

We have all encountered the situation where we get irrelevant search results for the query that we are looking for or are shown results from completely unrelated fields due to some common terms. The Exclude operator helps us weed out irrelevant results. This operator can be used to exclude anything – a keyword or website or a set of pages and so on.

Hack: Exclude operator can be an effective tool in monitoring the visibility of our brand on the internet or in finding potential sources to syndicate our articles in future.

For example, a search query ‘Flipkart’ will return all results of pages where flipkart is mentioned excluding

The white portion is brand mentions of Flipkart all over the internet whereas the black portion is brand mentions on which gets excluded from the search results by using the above search query.

Wildcard Search:

* is a random operator. Instead of * Google fills in whatever it thinks is appropriate. It can be used when you are uncertain about few keywords. For example '* under 15000' will return results like Best Android Phones under 15000, mp3 players under 15,000 etc. You can use wild cards to find forgotten lyrics, Quotes etc.

URL parameters

URL parameters are name and value pairs, an “=” sign separates the name and the value and “&” separates each pair eg: &filter=0.

Whenever we conduct any search, few parameters get appended on the search bar as shown below:

In the above example, the search query was “mobile”. Using URL parameters we can do a number of things to refine our search result such as

  1. Changing the number of results displayed on a SERP page
  2. Going to the last page of search results


This is mainly done by modifying the query string on the URL. We need to add an ‘&’ before appending a parameter to the string. Here is a list of useful parameters:

1. “num” parameter :

Google by default displays only 10 results on its first page. With the ‘num’ parameter, you can display all the 100 results on the first page itself, saving a lot of time.

The “num” parameter returns the number of results that will be displayed on the SERP.


This will display 100 results on the SERP page instead of default 10 results. This makes it much easier to skim through the results and find what you are looking for.

You can apply this parameter for Google News listing, App listing and even videos.

2. “start” parameter:

“start” parameter displays SERP from the Xth result. It is useful for finding true indexation number and number of duplicate pages indexed by Google.

What is true indexation number?

Let’s take an example – Searching for “textile chemical testing” displays that there are around 1,20,00,000 ‘results’.

Appending &start=990 in the URL box will take you as far as page 38 and return only 362 results. This 362 result obtained is the true indexation number for “textile chemical testing”. This result obtained is the actual competition for this keyword query, rest of the results are either scraped or deemed unworthy to be displayed on Google SERPS for this particular query.

That’s a huge difference between the estimated 1,20,00,000 results that Google shows at the start and one that is returned from the start parameter Thus, this parameter is useful when you want to get a more accurate count of results Google returns for a query. The maximum number that you can put in start is 990, as Google only displays a maximum of 1,000 results.

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