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How To Search Better With Microsoft Bing
Using simple queries with search engines usually results in large numbers of hits. Using advanced query language can significantly narrow the search. A number of useful search operators are described for Microsoft Bing.

The major search engines index countless pages of information. Any simple search query is apt to return many thousands or even millions of hits. Although the search engines do a remarkable job of ranking results so that the top 100 or so links that are listed will contain highly relevant results, many useful web sites get buried down in the huge mass of hits that few, if any, searchers will ever look at. This means that simply phrased queries will leave a great deal of useful material undiscovered.

A way to improve the quality of information that a search query will turn up is to use advanced queries to narrow down the scope of the search and filter out unwanted links. Advanced queries can make the search much more specific and also block irrelevant or unwanted pages. All major search engines come with a variety of advanced operators. For example, a list of those for Google are at this link.

In this article, I will discuss a number of operators for Microsoft's Bing search engine. Some are the same as for Google but others are not. Material for this discussion is based on this Microsoft reference.

Advanced Query Language for Bing

Many web users are already familiar with a few of the search operators, such as AND, OR, NOT. These basic Boolean operators are used in many different types of query. However, there are quite a few others and the table below lists them. Some are more useful than others. The table also gives a short description of each. Note that some operators have a colon appended at their ends. The colon must be included.

Table I. Advanced query operators for Microsoft Bing search
Search operator Short description
altloc: Used to specify a local search that is outside major markets
AND (all upper case) Finds web pages that contain all the terms or phrases in a query. Same as & and &&
contains: Keeps results focused on sites that have links to the file types that you specify
define Triggers an Instant Answer definition for the specified word
domain: Limits results to the specified domain
feed: Finds RSS or Atom feeds pertaining to the term you specify
filetype: Returns only web pages of the specified file type
hasfeed: Finds web pages that contain both the term or terms for which you are querying and one or more
RSS or Atom feeds
imagesize: Constrains the size of returned images. Valid size parameters are "small", "medium" and "large"
inanchor: Returns web pages that contain the specified term in the anchor text
inbody: Returns web pages that contain the specified term in the metadata or in the HTML body
instreamset: Checks to see if a string is present with one or more properties
intitle: Returns web pages that contain the specified term in the metadata title of the site
ip: Finds sites that are hosted by a specific IP address. The IP address must be a dotted quad address
keyword Takes a simple list as a parameter. All the elements in the list are ORed together. See example in section below.
language: Returns web pages written in a specific language.
literalmeta: Any string within parentheses is interpreted literally; that is, with no word-breaking or symbolic interpretation.
loc: Returns web pages from a specific country or region
meta: Allows the filtering of content based on special tags in HTML
msite: Source filtering used to refine a query for a multimedia site
near: Constrains the distance between terms so that documents that contain instances of the specified terms within ten or fewer words of each other are returned before those that don’t. For closer associations use "near:n" where n is an integer.
noalter: Keeps the query from being altered by the Alteration Service
norelax: Makes sure queries return only terms that are in the query
NOT (all upper case) Excludes web pages that contain the specified term or terms. Same as - .
OR (all upper case) Finds web pages that contain either the term that precedes the operator or the term that follows the operator. Same as | and ||.
site: Returns web pages that belong to the specified site.
url: Returns results that indicate whether the specified domain or URL is in the Bing Index
"your search query" Returns results that contain the specified phrase, exactly

Examples of advanced search syntax

Personally, I find most of the Bing operators given in Table I above to be quite specialized and of little general use. I have not had a lot of success with these more specialized ones . But there are some that will make searching easier.

The Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT are always helpful and their use should already be familiar or easily understood from the description in Table I. Table II explains several others that can be helpful in ordinary use.

Table II. Syntax for some Bing operators
Example of usage Description
site:vlaurie.com Returns a list of pages at vlaurie.com
backup site:vlaurie.com Lists pages at vlaurie.com containing the term "backup"
domain:vlaurie.com Finds any suffixes to the domain name. In this case, tips.vlaurie.com would be listed.
black near: white Returns fewer pages than just querying "black AND white".
black near:3 white Returns pages where "black" is separated from "white" by 3 or fewer words


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