Google Speed-Search Lesson #6 – Wildcards

Here’s part six of my Google Speed-Search series. In this lesson, we’ll use wildcards to speed up our searches.

A wildcard in Google is represented by an asterisk (*) and used instead of a single word. Consider this search:

"Mount Fuji is * high"

This phrase search forces Google to return web pages with the exact phrase above, but replacing the wildcard with any word. Here are some examples of what this search returns:

  • Mount Fuji is 3776 meters high
  • Mount Fuji is 12377 feet high
  • Mount Fuji is 3.8 km high
  • Mount Fuji is 3066 metres high

That last one proves you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet!

Using multiple wildcards

Each instance of the wildcard represents one word (numbers don’t count as shown above). Take a look at these examples with real Google results below each:

"ten * bottles sitting on the wall"

  • Ten green bottles sitting on the wall

"ten * * sitting on the wall"

  • Ten green bloggers sitting on the wall 😯
  • Ten green bottles sitting on the wall

"ten * * * on the wall"

  • Ten green bottles hanging on the wall
  • Ten green bottles standing on the wall

"ten * * * * the wall"

  • Ten green bottles hanging on the wall
  • Ten years ago, I daresay, The Wall Street Journal…
  • …grew steadily for ten years until we hit the wall

A little creativity can find you what you’re looking for

The Google wildcard is one of my favorite speed-search tricks. You can use it to find song lyrics, such as…

"will * * * me * you * * me * I'm *" (Try this one in Google!)

Or even to find the unanswerable…

"the secret of life is *" 😉

Next: Lesson #7 – Special Syntax

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Google Speed-Search Lesson #6 – Wildcards

  1. Wow that is a great post. I had never heard of speedanki before. It’s brilliant!

    You are one step ahead of me (already mentioning their posts).

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