It blows my mind when my friends can’t find the shoes or shirts they’ve wanted to buy for ages on the internet, so I usually end up taking matters into my own hands with a simple Google search. And you know what? I ALWAYS find what they want because I use Boolean searching.
Sometimes I don’t even need to use a Boolean search to help them find their stuff though, and that makes me concerned that not enough people know how to sift through the internet using Google.
In this post, I will teach you how to efficiently shop online using the best Google search method ever—Boolean search, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. I’m not going to make it super complicated, so make sure to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or via comments if you have more questions after you’re done reading.
Boolean searching OR Boolean Logic allows you to combine words and phrases with symbols in a search bar to retrieve specific information from a searchable database (http://www.internettutorials.net/boolean.asp).
Example of the Boolean search I used to find my boyfriend’s Jeremy Lin jersey, which most sites were sold out of:
~(“Jeremy Lin”) AND ~jersey AND -(~(“sold out”))
Please don’t let that scare you, because it led me to find this:
The ~ – “ ” ( ) symbols you see above represent specific details to Google that aren’t always evident with words. I will abridge the long cheat sheet of searching methods for this post’s purposes.
You’ll most-likely need these symbols and/or words:
1. OR —Use this between words or phrases to illustrate that you would like any of those terms to be considered in your search. For example:
OPI OR essie
This means that you are searching for either of those words (but we know it’s nail polish) on a website. It’s like you are saying “I want either OPI nail polish or Essie nail polish. As long as I find one, I am happy—don’t need the other then.”
2. AND —Use this between words or phrases to illustrate that you want to include all the words that come between the AND’s, for example:
OPI AND essie
This means that you are searching for both of those words on a website
3. ( ) –Nesting allows you to build complex searches, like this:
shoes AND (edelman OR louboutin)
This means that you are trying to find shoes that are either the Edelman brand or the Louboutin brand.
4. “” –Quotations are used search for exact phrases, terms or titles, like:
This helps Google understand that you want it to search for websites with Jeremy Lin’s name, instead of just Jeremy with Lin somewhere else on the page…that would probably bring you to a site that has nothing to do with Jeremy Lin
5. ~ –A tilde symbol is used to show that you want to find a word and/or its synonyms:
This would find words or phrases similar to American, like the United States or U.S.A.
6. – –This makes sure that certain words aren’t in the websites that you are looking for, like my earlier search:
~(“Jeremy Lin”) AND ~jersey AND -(~(“sold out”))
Okay, so that’s a bit more elaborate; but I wanted to make sure that I found a Jeremy Lin jersey that wasn’t sold out, or on backorder, etc! The – made sure that words similar to “sold out” were not on the webpages I was looking for
7. * –Put an asterisk at the end of a word’s stem so that Google can search for its various endings. For example:
Run* AND shoes
This search will bring you results with the word “shoes” and “run,” or “runs,” or “running,” or “runner,” and the like.
And now I will show you how I found my friend’s Sam Edelman shoes
I’m giving myself a long overdue pat on the back for finding THESE Sam Edelman Lorissa Pumps in a size 9 and in this impossible to find “citrine” color.
She had spent a large amount of time trying to find them when Nordstrom’s didn’t her size 9 in that particular color.
I tried a variety of searches, before ultimately arriving at this one:
“sam edelman” ~citrine ~(“Lorissa Pump”) “size 9”
To break down my search:
- I put sam edelman in quotes because I wanted Google to find that exact name—not just sam OR edelman.
- I put citrine with the ~ in front of it because perhaps some websites selling it have it as citrus or some other weird variation of the color. Putting the ~ in front gave me more chances to find the shoe in the color my friend wanted.
- I did the same thing with the word Lorissa Pump: I put quotes around it because I wanted to find words or phrases similar to Lorissa Pump, since there could be a different name for the same shoe style on another website.
- I put size 9 in quotes because I wanted that phrase to be somewhere on the website I was searching. When I didn’t include “size 9” in my search, I found the Lorissa Pump in every size BUT 9.
**TIP—I like to search with Google’s image search, because I can better see my results**
I think that THIS…
Is better than THIS
You really have to play around with the way you search—The above search I used to find the shoes was just one of a bunch of possible searches that could have worked.
Hope that helped! Let me know if you need clarification or help on anything.