Previously Undocumented Use of the Asterisk

booleanstrings Boolean

askerisk

The recent document Google’s Advanced Search Operators by @dmrussell has a nice, compact overview of Google search operators.  Since the author works at Google, it’s also a reliable source – make a note of it!

Most of the content is not new for those of us familiar with the advanced Boolean search syntax; but one part, at the very end, grabbed my attention. I’ll copy it here, for your convenience:

<quote> Stars in site search.

A search like [ site:*.law.*.edu ] will find all of the .EDU sites with “.law” in the domain name.  

Also try:  [ site:*.nyc.gov ] will match all of the NYC.gov sites with a subdomain.  

Also:  [ site:*.nasa.*  inurl:education ] gives lots of good clues about education sites at NASA.

<end-of-quote>

As we know, the asterisk (or star) can be used instead of a keyword, as a “fill in the blanks” operator. This is the first time though that I see documentation on using the asterisk * in combination with the site: operator. 

It remains somewhat unclear how it works – i.e. what the exact rules are using the asterisk along with the site:

These searches are a little different than those in Dan’s examples, but they do work:

In several of the above examples, using site: vs. inurl: allows to reach better precision – e.g.

site:plus.google.com/*/about

works better (and looks nicer) than

site:plus.google.com inurl:about.

Further, the following searches, though they do not follow the exact syntax in Dan’s document, also work:

(However, for example, this string won’t work: site:*.nasa.*/education*)

If you play with this, I’d be curious to hear what you discover. (Be aware of a likely Google captcha attack on you.)

P.S. Please note that in response to my post (this one that you are reading), Dan has updated the document Google’s Advanced Search Operators with extra details; see those at the end of the document. I am still not sure we have the full picture though.