How to Google for Partial Words in URLs #OSINT

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You cannot Google for a part of a word. (The Asterisk * means one or a few words in Google’s search syntax.)

However, using the wonderful Google Custom (or Programmable) Search Engines (CSEs), you can search for partial words in the URLs. The way to do so is to take advantage of CSE URL templates. There, the Asterisk means “part of a URL.”

(Please note that my examples are here mostly to demonstrate the technique. You will need to create CSEs based on your goals.)

How can searching for partial words benefit you? Here is a demo use case. LinkedIn members with degrees, certifications, and licenses often add relevant abbreviations to their last names. The abbreviation spellings vary – some people use periods, some, not. This CSE will search for public LinkedIn profiles for Ph.D.’s who have included the abbreviation as part of their last name, no matter how they spelled it, Ph.D., or PhD. It is achieved by including linkedin.com/in/*ph*d. (You can’t do anything similar in Google “in one shot”).

Example search: chemistry professor.

The next CSE searches for LinkedIn profiles for Maria’s first name variations – e.g., Mary, Marianna, Marie, etc. Templates: linkedin.com/in/mari*, linkedin.com/in/mary*.

Example search: java developer san francisco.

You can create a CSE with refinements for people whose names start with each Alphabet letter in the same fashion as the above!

CSEs allow templates as crazy as, for example, github.com/*oogle*/*py* (try it: api).

This technique is particularly useful for researching social sites with info of interest in the page URLs (which are usually standardized for each type of info like profiles, blog posts, groups, companies, etc.) Examples of such info are a person’s degree or location, company industry or size, blog post, or news article topics. Now, it is up to you to find more sites and applications! I would be interested to hear your ideas.

(There is a bit of a small font for the method. It will increase the results’ number if you include in the CSE’s “keywords” field the words you would like to see in the results. Keep it in mind. Ping me if you want me to say more.)

Do not miss my OSINT Webinar on March 16th!

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