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Google's search tricks

March 30,2017 5 comments

In this article, I will walk you through some search tricks (on the Google’s engine) that can help you delve into your research faster, often getting the intended information.  The article is categorized into three sections. In the first section, you will learn about the basic searches, the most commonly used methods. In the second part, you will learn about more advanced operators that help dedicate your searches to a niche’ techniques. in the last part, you will be presented with a few hackers tips.

Basic search techniques


Simple word searches: Basic Google searches consist of one or more words entered without any quotations or the use of special keywords.


the ban of plastic bags in Kenya

what is bitcoin

The google search engine has its own way around simple word searches as above. Did you know that the following list of words are often ignored by the search engine, anytime they are included in your search phrase?“a, about, an, and, are, as, at, be, by, from, how, I, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, this, to, we, what, when, where, which, with.”

If you did know, then what have you been doing to ensure they are included in order to get a much-focussed result? The examples above would mean that the google search engine will instead search for, ban plastic bags Kenya, and bitcoin, instead of the whole phrase as you intended. Below, are some techniques that you could use to control the engine instead of unconsciously submitting to its search algorithms.


“+” searches: In order to force Google to include a common word, precede the search term with a plus (+) sign. Do not use a space between the plus sign and the search term.

For example, the following searches produce slightly different results (check the results listing plus the order of appearance):

Where is Egypt

+where is Egypt


“-" searches: to exclude a term from a search query, simply place a minus sign (-) before the term. Do not use a space between the minus sign and the search term. This technique can save you time if you typed a word in the search phrase but have decided to exclude it. For example, the following searches produce slightly different results:

Where is Kenya

-where is Kenya   //this would result in anything to do about “is Kenya”

Try searching for -where -is -Zambia or –you –won’t –find –anything (they will produce the same results)

Phrase Searches: you might want to search for an article containing a particular phrase only. In order to do this, supply the phrase surrounded by double-quotes.


“I am only as good as the information I gather”

“I have a dream”


Mixed searches: Mixed searches can involve both phrases and individual terms. Example:


This search will only return results that include the phrase “M-Akiba” and the term talwork.


Google’s advanced operators


Google allows the use of certain operators to help refine searches. However, attention has to be given to the syntax. The basic format for their use is:

 operator:search term

N/B: there is no space between the operator, the colon, and the search term. If space is used after a colon, Google will display an error message, else if space is used before the colon, Google will use your intended operator as a search term. The advanced operators are described below.


site: find web pages on a specific website

This advanced operator instructs Google to restrict a search to a specific website or domain. When using this operator, an addition search argument is required.

Example: free courses

This query will return results from shaw academy and other online platforms that include the term free courses anywhere on the page as below.

Info: Show Google’s Summary Information  about a website

The info operator shows the summary information for a site and provides links to other Google searches that might pertain to that site, as shown below. The parameter to this operator must be a valid URL or site name. You can achieve this same functionality by supplying a site name or URL as a search query.



filetype: search only within files of a specific type.

This operator instructs Google to search only within the text of a particular type of file. It requires an additional search argument.


Filetype:pdf internet of things

This query searches for the word internet of things within adobe portable document format (pdf) documents.

There should be no period (.) before the filetype and no space around the colon following the word “filetype”. It is important to note that Google only claims to be able to search within certain types of files.

The current list of files that Google can search is listed in the filetype FAQ located at As of this writing, Google can search within the following file types:

Adobe Portable Document Format (pdf), Adobe PostScript (ps), Lotus 1-2-3 (wk1, wk2, wk3, wk4, wk5, wki, wks, wku), Lotus WordPro (lwp), MacWrite (mw), Microsoft Excel (xls), Microsoft PowerPoint (ppt),  Microsoft Word (doc), Microsoft Works (wks, wps, wdb),  Microsoft Write (wri), Rich Text Format (rtf). Text (ans, txt)

link: search within links

A hyperlink is a selectable connection from one web page to another. Most often, these links appear as underlined text but they can appear as images, video or any other type of multimedia content. This advanced operator instructs Google to search within hyperlinks for a search term. It requires no other search arguments.


This query would display web pages that link to’s main page. This special operator is somewhat limited in that the link must appear exactly as entered in

the search query.

cache: display Google’s cached version of a page

This operator displays the version of a web page as it appeared when Google crawled the site. It also gives you various options to view the text-only version of the page, and the page’s source code. It requires no other search arguments.




intitle: search within the title of a document

This operator instructs Google to search for a term within the title of a document. Most web browsers display the title of a document on the top title bar of the browser window.



This query would only display pages that contained the word ‘guineapig’ in the title.


derivative of this operator, ‘allintitle’ works in a similar fashion.


allintitle:guineapig experimental

This query finds both the words ‘guineapig’ and ‘experimental’ in the title of a page. The

‘allintitle’ operator finds every subsequent word in the query only in the title of the page. 

inurl: search within the URL of a page

This operator instructs Google to search only within the URL, or web address of a document. This operator requires no other search arguments.



This query would display pages with the word ‘cybersecurity-in-kenya’ inside the web address.

A derivative of this operator, ‘allinurl’ works in a similar fashion.


allinurl:Somaliland cyber

This query finds both the words ‘somaliland’ and ‘cyber’ in the URL of a page. The ‘allinurl’ operator instructs Google to find every subsequent word in the query only in the URL of the page.

Hackers' section


Domain searches using the ‘site’ operator

The site operator can be expanded to search out entire domains. For example:

site:gov secret

This query searches every website in the .gov domain for the word ‘secret’. This is a great thing for journalists and any other person, in general, can use this technique to find interesting stuff about a group of websites owned by organizations such as a government or non-profit organization. This can also be exploited by hackers to find sensitive information. It may also reveal very sensitive information.

Finding Directory listings

Directory listings provide a list of files and directories in a browser window instead of the typical text-and-graphics mix generally associated with web pages. Directory listings are often placed on web servers purposely to allow visitors to browse and download files from a directory tree. Many times, however, directory listings are not intentional. A misconfigured web server may produce a directory listing if an index or main web page file is missing. In some cases, directory listings are set up as a temporary storage location for files. Either way, there’s a good chance that an attacker may find something interesting inside a directory listing. Most directory listings begin with the phrase “Index of”, which also shows in the title. Using the query “intitle:index.of”, may find pages with the term ‘index of’ in the title of the document. Unfortunately, this query will return a large number of false-positives. Several alternate queries such as below provide more accurate results:

intitle:index.of "parent directory"

intitle:index.of name size


A search for parentaldirectory:apache results in the following



Versioning: Obtaining the Web Server Software / Version via directory listings

You can know the exact version of the web server software running on a server from Google without ever connecting to the target server under investigation. One method involves the using the information provided in a directory listing. The directory listing includes the name of the server software as well as the version.


The above query focuses on the term “index of” in the title and “server at” appearing at the bottom of the directory listing. This type of query can additionally be pointed at a particular web server:



Using Google as a CGI scanner

Mercilessly searching out vulnerable programs on a server, the ‘CGI scanner’ or ‘web scanner’ has become one of the most indispensable tools in the world of web server hacking, however, they are not much appreciated by an advanced hacker.

In order to accomplish its task, these scanners must know what exactly to search for on a web server. In most cases these tools are scanning web servers looking for vulnerable files or directories that may contain sample code or vulnerable files. Either way, the tools generally store these vulnerabilities in a file that is formatted like the following












The lines in a vulnerability file like the ones shown above can serve as a roadmap for a Google hacker. Each line can be broken down and used in either an ‘index.of’ or an ‘inurl’ search to find vulnerable targets. For example, a Google search for


A hacker can take sites returned from this Google search, apply a bit of hacker ‘magic’ and eventually get the broken ‘random_banner’ program to cough up any file on that webserver, including the password file

using robots.txt file extension

A robots.txt file provides critical information for search engine spiders that crawl the web. Before these bots (does anyone say the full word “robots” anymore?) access pages of a site, they check to see if a robots.txt file exists. Doing so makes crawling the web more efficient, because the robots.txt file keeps the bots from accessing certain pages that should not be indexed by the search engines. simply add  /robots.txt at the end of  your search phrase

Michael Jaroya

He is a technology enthusiast, a writer, and motivator.An individual with the love for humanity..

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