Useful Google feature: better date search

If you didn’t see this post about better date-based searching by Ionut Alex Chitu, I highly recommend that you check it out. As Google has gotten fresher, our advanced search page started showing more useful options for restricting searches by date. The shortest time frame used to be something like three months; now you can look for things that are less than 24 hours old.

What GoogleOS noticed is that the advanced date search affects a url parameter called “as_qdr” and Chitu figured out some of the possible values:

The nice thing is that you can change the value of as_qdr to custom intervals. Here are all the possible values of the as_qdr parameter:

d[number] – past number of days (e.g.: d10)
w[number] – past number of weeks
y[number] – past number of years

This little tweak is as handy as “&strip=1″ on cache: queries and “&filter=0″ on site: queries. Why? It’s an easy way to see new urls that Google has just discovered in the last few days.

For example, there’s been a lot of fast progress on iphone stuff recently. A query such as http://www.google.com/search?q=iphone+source+code&as_qdr=d1 would show all the new urls for the query [iphone source code] within the last day, because d1 stands for 1 day.

Suppose you wanted to see all the new urls that Google found on your site within the last 7 days. For the domain mattcutts.com, I’d use a query such as http://www.google.com/search?q=site:mattcutts.com&as_qdr=d7 to find those urls (remember, “d” stands for days and “7″ stands for, well, 7). Previously, you could check whether Google had indexed a new url by (say) searching for content from that url, so this isn’t completely new, but it still simplifies life for site owners.

I’m already using this parameter in my power searching all the time. If you need a way to remember the parameter name, I think of as_qdr as “advanced search — query date range,” although I haven’t checked if that’s what the letters actually stand for. :)

82 Responses to Useful Google feature: better date search (Leave a comment)

  1. Thanks for the post. That’s a good way to check out the buzz for certain topics too.

  2. George

    Calloateral damage….. is what it is when you do changes. My site, usually in the top ten, disappeared again after 7 years of hard work. Your tweak didn’t work. Other sites was removed too and it hurts my business BIG time!
    You might be doing improvements to your search, but when sites like mone disappear then there must be something wrong with what you do!

    Just my 2 cents :(

    If you need example, email me!

  3. Harith

    George

    Do you mind posting the url of your “Calloateral damage” site? just wish to take a look ;)

  4. Great news, I like that the time range selector appears on the search result page too.
    Luckily, my site after ten years of hard work is still there :-)

  5. Awesome I could find the britney vma video from monday without getting 9000 old vma videos!

  6. When this blog first began – SearchEnginesWEB made suggestion on three separate posts to have an advanced refined DateRange feature instituted.

    Too bad those early archived posts have been deleted in a fit of anger – it would have been really valuable and rewarding to see the progress over the past two years of those earlier suggestions.

    It is difficult to gauge which ones eventually were instituted – it now has to be done from memory. :-(

  7. It doesn’t work very well with qualified site searches where multiple parameters have been input. I hope that’s an unexpected bug that will be rectified rather than an intentional limit.

    Otherwise, I welcome the new date data.

  8. This is a cool feature, but there’s one thing that’s missing in it: the ability to feature new pages and information or updated pages and information. Is there a future plan to have something like that implemented? (e.g. a querystring along the lines of new_flag=1).

    This is a particular problem with Google Alerts. There’s a query that I monitor that has had no new information for at least the past 2-3 months, yet alerts still come in. It’s not a major big life-altering “oh my God I’m going to die because the same information keeps coming in” thing, but it’s a “wouldn’t it be cool if this would be implemented?” thing.

    George: I’m with Harith. I’d like to see this too.

  9. One more goofy thing I just noticed (although I’m probably the only one dumb enough to have tried this): when you put in a querystring parameter for say the past week, then you try to change it in the resulting select box that appears to “anytime”, it defaults back to the past week the first time. The second time, it seems to correct itself.

    It doesn’t do it for any other date range…just “anytime”. Not sure why that’s significant unless it’s because it creates an “all” value, though.

  10. Isn’t this same thing as daterange operator but now in an accesible way present in the browser?
    Indeed Google is getting faster and faster. Pages in index in 10-20 hours for my rather new site is BIG and Unexpected!

    Respect 2 Google for these improvements and for working on fixing the paid links issue! If you devalue link spam on pages where links change every 1-5 minutes, you address 90% of webspam and will let us all fight with equal chances. (’cause this is a fight here – seowar!)

    Congrats.

  11. Michael Martinez, what’s an example search? When a search gets into the intersection of a bunch of different criteria, I’d be interested to hear if there’s a bug or weird corner case.

    M.W.A., fair feedback. This is more for new urls than updated urls.

  12. Akos

    Unfortunately, this feature did not work for quite a lot of site:example.com queries a couple of weeks ago, when it was advertised in Search Engine Land, and it still does not.

  13. g1smd

    What a great function.

    Now. Does [&as_qdr=-d30] show everything *older* than 30 days, and could you do [&as_qdr=-d30&as_qdr=d60] to find everything found 2 months ago, but not 1 or 3 months ago?

    I guess people are going to play and see what funky results they can get from it…

  14. Harith

    Why does it show duplicates when you hit the:

    “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 2 already displayed.
    If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

    =========
    Web Results 1 – 4 of 4 from mattcutts.com over the past 24 hours. (0.07 seconds)
    Back from Pennsylvania
    September 11, 2007 @ 9:35 pm · Filed under Weblog/blog. I was out of town this weekend for my brother’s wedding. All went well and he’s now a happily …
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/back-from-pennsylvania/ – 13 hours ago – Similar pages
    Back from Pennsylvania
    September 11, 2007 @ 9:35 pm · Filed under Weblog/blog. I was out of town this weekend for my brother’s wedding. All went well and he’s now a happily …
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/back-from-pennsylvania – 12 hours ago – Similar pages
    Useful Google feature: better date search
    September 12, 2007 @ 8:58 am · Filed under How to, Google/SEO. If you didn’t see this post about better date-based searching by Ionut Alex Chitu, …
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/useful-google-feature-better-date-search – 1 hour ago – Similar pages
    Useful Google feature: better date search
    September 12, 2007 @ 8:58 am · Filed under How to, Google/SEO. If you didn’t see this post about better date-based searching by Ionut Alex Chitu, …
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/useful-google-feature-better-date-search/ – 2 hours ago – Similar pages
    ======================

  15. Nice way to check recent post indexed :)

  16. That’s brilliant! I’ve been wondering what’s going on with Googles PR update this month, and Googling for “Google PageRank Update” just returns tons of old content. Now I can see if anyone has been posting inside info lately! :D

    (which I suspect will be a no…)

    :’(

  17. JLH

    Harith, those are not duplicates, some have trailing slashes on them others don’t. :)

  18. g1smd

    The multiple entries are Classic “Duplicate Content” – the same content at different URLs (even if the two URLs are only one character different).

  19. Harith

    JLH

    I’m buying g1smd explanation :)

    I also might ask Adam Lasnik to explain to Matt few things about how to prevent indexing duplicate contents :)

    Of course I have still the option of filing a spam report about the incident to Google WebSpam Team :)

  20. George

    Harith,

    Matt knows which one I am talking about. He can email me for more info!

  21. Nice feature that I will be using to see if recent posts have been indexed. Thanks!

  22. Love the idea, I’m sure this will be fun ;)

  23. Thanks for the post Matt. That is rather cool and a feature I will be using.

  24. Sam I Am

    I like it; very nice!

    Just to be clear; this will only return NEW URL’s that it is finding for the first time within that time frame right? Or is it that it has discovered new content on those pages within the chosen time frame?

  25. Wow…

    That is extremely handy. Not many people use advanced search techniques in Google. But I’ll tell you thing, if more people read the information on the advanced search page, they would be amazed with the power Google has for finding things. Thanks for sharing Matt.

  26. This sounds like a really useful feature — in fact it would be good to see the date options expanded. One of the things that’s been frustrating me recently while doing research on Google has been getting very old information gravitating to the top. For example for a blog post I wanted to find out about CEO pay at HMOs and the results at the top were way historical. It would have been very useful to have had the option to restrict searches to pages first seen last year, for example. At the moment the furthest back you can specify is “in the past year”.

  27. Jahangir

    This is really a cool feature.

  28. Harith

    Keniki

    5 short posts in a row :-(

  29. Harith, he got five links didn’t he? :) What people do fo nofollow links these days …

  30. Lon

    I noticed after doing a search with this new cool parameter in the URL, an option right next to the search query box is displayed to select the time frame more conveniently.
    Would it be possible to add a feature to preferences to always show this “select timeframe” box next to the search entry field on the main page? Thx.

  31. I just wrote a small search plugin for this, which works in FF and IE :)

  32. I wish the date dropbox was almost standard. There is a big need for it in the technology field as versions of programs come and go so fast. Searching for a Dreamweaver fix gives way to many outdated results.

  33. Harith,
    About those duplicates. Any decent coder ads in .htaccess the {add slash if not file} or {strip slash from anyt URL} option. This is a normal (expected) thing to happen. Only yahoo seems to ‘slash’ the end backslash.
    Check my site for an quick-fix.

  34. Joost de Valk, nice. :)

    Harith, I happened to be in my once-every-two-weeks bugs meeting yesterday and mentioned your comment to them. :)

    Keniki, I trimmed the last comment. Please show restraint.

  35. Matt, is it true that searches limited to the lifetime of a domain don’t pull results from the supplemental index?

  36. This is a great feature and it’s so simple and easy to use too! It’s amazing that it even allows you to look for things that aren’t even a day old. I would be interested in hearing how this new tool can be used in productive ways by companies with new or well-established websites.

  37. Matt,

    I think this is an awesome concept especially for bloggers. I wondered if , in the future,there would be a way to reset default preferences in the advanced search criteria. The preferences seem “sticky” as though they do not want to be cleared.

  38. Harith

    Matt,

    You may wish to try searches (y, y2) with sites like:

    site:example-site.com

    site:example-site.dk

    I’m getting weird results ;-)

  39. Harith

    test..unable to post on this thread

  40. Harith

    Matt,

    I’m getting weird results for searches (&as_qdr=y and &as_qdr=y2) for sites of the kind:

    site:sample-site.com

    site:sample-site.dk

    etc…

  41. Bobert

    Cool beans! Now if you could get all the crappy rss feeds out of the search results, which should be easy since most have /rss/ in the url, I’d be a much happier camper. I’m really getting tired of clicking on results and getting a bunch of run-on text.

    Umm, ok, that and all the spam results (from .cn tld) that have permeated nearly every search I do. For an easy look try a search for: pentax lens site:.cn

  42. This is fantastic. when i was looking for news about denmark i could never find the newest one. Now all my problem are fixed. Thanks

  43. Matt,
    Is the testing being done on the 59 IP block going to migrate to the rest of the data centers like the “big daddy” updates did? I also wondered if the patched algo will be using “AI” to determine relevancy. If so there will be a learning curve for the algo correct? As it collects data and “learns” the behaviors of web users it will produce more and more relevant results over time right? My last questions regard links: Where does that leave the 1,000’s of hours building links if link popularity is now “obsolete”? Are the variable(s) for links still included in the new “fuzzy logic” sieve to factor search results or are they terminated at some point in the algo?

  44. “Michael Martinez, what’s an example search? When a search gets into the intersection of a bunch of different criteria, I’d be interested to hear if there’s a bug or weird corner case.”

    Matt, I’ve been unable to see your blog for a couple of days. I’d like to withdraw my complaint about the date search.

    …never mind…

  45. Bobert

    One more thing, give me an easy way to ignore tlds. In my preferences I’d love to be able to ignore all results from .cn (amongst others)

  46. thanks for the info Matt, this will definitely come in handy

  47. George

    Bobert,
    Thank God it is not just me that see all the chinese spam site. I thought Matt said they were testing it but it seems to be a tough one to get rid of, except for my site :(

    It seems that most of the are not being cached but the ones that are, are using some kinf of trick not to redirect you the first time, like if you click on Googles cache, but the second time, refreshing Googles cahe. Then it usually takes you to this site: http:// scanner.xmalwarealarm.com /5/ scan.php

    I have change the url a little bit so people don’t go there by mistake. I added a few spaces so if you need to go check their site out, just remove the spaces but do NOT go to the full URL!!!

    Matt, any comments about the chinese spam sites? If you need “real world searches”, email me.

  48. George

    It seems that nothing has been don eto the chinese spam sites at all. A LOT of searches I do retrieves tons of spam sites and I don’tunderstand why it is so hard to get rid of.
    Here are some real examples from a google search:

    park city store rheumatoid arthritis pregnancy yahoo street …… warranty on vehicle cocker spaniel puppies california god made dirt, ….. facility meeting ontario super mario world beaten in 1.5 hours overweight dog …
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  49. George, what the hell are you looking for? That may be the most messed-up SERP in the history of the universe.

  50. Harith

    MWA

    It seems George was looking at a link farm :)

  51. Harith,
    I think I visited one of those link farms once on my way through Maine. They had paid links, free links, and featured links. Oh and a sign I almost forgot the sign it said “Hello World!”. I think they put the sign up after they got banned from google.

  52. Hi Matt,

    A little off topic but I thought I would ask anyway.

    I notices for several very locally focused google searches that the index has totally changed in the past few weeks. All of the websites which had relevant local information and were locally based were bumped out of the top 6 positions in favor of national companies who do not really have any local information on their page that shows up in Googles search. Here is the Google search http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=morristown+nj+real+estate Morristown NJ real estate

    How are the current top six websites the most relevant? All they are seeking to do is capture real estate leads and then resell them to the less tech savvy Realtors.

  53. A fairly well written blog on this very subject that I have asked about is this one,

    http://activerain.com/blogsview/206453/EVERYONE-WANTS-TO-GET

    Basically the question comes down to this, What websites are more relevant to a very specific search such as Morristown NJ Real Estate? Is it Homegain’s National site or Housevalues National site, or Homes.com’s National site. Correct me if I am wrong but is it not Googles goal to give the consumer the more relevant, non biased search results possible. Is that not the idea that has made Google the number 1 search engine?

    Thank you for reading my RANT!!!!

    James Boyer
    Realtor Associate
    Keller Williams Real Estate
    Summit, NJ 07901

  54. Thanks for the post. That is rather cool and a feature I will be using.

  55. James, a little piece of advice. I don’t know you. I’ve never heard of you. I’ve got nothing against you. So don’t take this personally.

    But your problem is that you’re obviously trying to manipulate SERPs and you’re not doing a very good job of covering your tracks. So before you complain about what Google is doing, consider that they might be aware of what you’re doing (specifically, the Spamdoo and the fake blogs).

    You may not like the sites you see on the first page of the SERP that you’re looking at, but there are reasons they’re there.

  56. James, Please stop blogging and write something useful !

    On the google date search. It’s awesome. My site is regularly indexed and it’s much easier to find most recently posted jobs now. Google still rocks !

  57. It Works Fantastic…. What A Great Information U gave Thanks Alot….I Hope U Done More On Google Searches…

  58. So I’m guessing that if google has not found any new pages for my site in the last month I should reinstall a sitemap? About 1200 new pages have been created by my users.

    I much more enjoyed surfing the web as a user than building a site.

    It’s time to take up drinking…

  59. Why is it that when ever someone tries to ask a useful question here that likly many thousands of people would love to know the answer to, they get jumped on and given a negative bunch of crazy nonsense like I got from Adam.

    All I wanted to know is how some national company with no relevant local content can rank for a very local term. In Google’s own words they are trying to give the end user the most relevant and useful information for each and every search done at Google.com. How is come national companies site where all they want to do it get you to give them your information so that they can sell it, more relevant than highly focused local sites with a large amount of local information.

  60. Hi Matt, this is a very useful tool, shows what going on at a site and shows also the activity on this preticular site. reason enough to use this tool.

    thankx Frank

  61. James, it is very simple. Your web presence mostly determines your ranking, because every link that points to your website acts like a vote of confidence. The more inbound links you have, the higher your rank will be for the keyword in the link anchor.

    Even if you have very good specific content, you need others to testify that your content is good, and you achieve that by having many incoming links.

  62. g1smd

    *** every link that points to your website acts like a vote of confidence ***

    Not every link counts. There are some types of link that give little or no benefit.

  63. sounds like a good features with date restriction on searches but who the fuss will remember the parameters? for average users, they simply type a keyword or a key phrase and search. Anyway it is an innovation idea.

  64. Matt

    I had some ideas (not that you guys need any) The advanced search is great especially for webmasters. But, what if you designed a RESTful applictaion that allowed user side interface via java drop down box. For example the users query is “food” but then when food comes up there are 10,000,000 listings for food. Now, adding pre-tagged items to the drop down box related to food but including the initial food query would allow users to get more and more specific results until they hit the “exact match” SERP Results they were looking for. Just an idea could be applied to (dates also).

  65. Bodhi

    I may be a bit late to catch your attention, Matt, but I just encountered a great example of out of date information floating to the top of the SERPS. I searched for [Obama tour schedule] and the page that came up top was his schedule from 2005. Not too useful.

    I think this is something that Google has real problems with.

  66. g1smd

    If you want his 2007 schedule then add “2007″ to your search query.

    Sometimes you just gotta ask for what you actually want.

  67. Cool feature. Another nice idea would be to have a RSS for those results, so I can always check the moves on my site or whether any “viagra” managed to slip on my site. Currently I’m using the search agent which sends me new results by email and is a bit outdated…

  68. Bodhi

    Hi g1smd,

    Please don’t be patronizing! Have you actually tried doing what you suggest? I presume you haven’t, because here’s what I got:

    Top result: The Brooklyn Vegan.
    Second result: The Brooklyn Vegan
    Third Result: Dave Mathews band tour dates
    Fourth result: story about the White Stripes
    Fifth result: Rush tour dates.

    I could go on and on but it’s too embarrassing. I ask for what I really want and I don’t get it.

    The query without the year actually gets me a better result although I have to dig down to get it.

    However the poor quality of search results isn’t my point, which is that out-of-date information tends to gravitate to the top and stay there. In some cases that’s a good thing, but in others it’s not. I’ve no idea how Google could do better without having a better date-range selection tool (that’s the topic for this thread). Adding another term (“2007″ for example) to my query may or may not help depending on what I want to know, even allowing for Google’s sometimes poor performance. If I’m just looking for information that’s reasonably current — say from the last 2 to 2 1/2 years — it’s a pain in the butt to try finding a query that will bring up the most relevant information.

    And out of interest, try putting [obama tour schedule 2007] into Yahoo and seeing what’s the top result.

  69. Hello Sir.

    Your blog is one of the best source of learning new stuff about search engines.

    Thanx
    Azhar

  70. Nice – I love this blog, so much good (insider) info. Google just keeps thinking of functionality before I think of it!

  71. phemy

    Cool feature. Another nice idea would be to have a RSS for those results, so I can always check the moves on my site or whether any “viagra” managed to slip on my site. Currently I’m using the search agent which sends me new results by email and is a bit outdated…

  72. Thanks for this “astuce” . It’s a very usefull fonction.
    are you sure now about what meens AS-QUERY DATE RANGE ?

  73. Matt.

    2 questions.

    1) Doesn’t this increase the chances of spammers scraping content from sites and pushing it over duplicate domains things like PHPSESSID attacks etc.
    2) In order to protect webmasters would it not be better to totally remove the site and cache commands from public use and move them into Webmaster tools exclusivelly.

    I certainly know that shoudl I want to screw peoples listings up this has helped make it easier.

  74. Cache dates for PDFs

    As a federal agency we post repost PDFs to our sites with the same exact name – just new updated information. With the current Google feature set for SERP the cache feature does not apply to PDFs – which is a problem since we have around 15,000 PDFs that are posted (and more to come.)

    I saw the video that you created on how Goggle now shows the last checked date on pages (nicely done) to reflect that in the cache display, but without the ability for users to see the cache date on PDFs on the SERP it makes it difficult for end users to know if reoccurringly published PDFs are worth downloading again (at 20 to 30 MB each) as they are updated. This causes people to download them just to be sure that they are the latest so they can use them.

    Having cache dates for PDFs is something that is very useful and I would hope the G Team would add that into the feature set on the SERP.

    Thanks,

    Tom

  75. Thnx Matt, this is a usefull tip!

  76. This is a relevant tool and it is definitely very powerful when deriving analytical data. However, is there a way that this can be programmed or plugged into some optional parameters that can be switched on or off whenever you want to search something? I for sure, cannot remember the syntax for this query.

    Regards,
    Seeni

  77. Guile

    Hello ! bug with google date search !
    There’s a bug on the “&as_qdr” research since januar 1st !
    Do you know if Google is going to work on it ?

    So bas, because this function is very useful to track the buzz…

    Guile.

  78. is there a way to only search older web pages?

    Such as looking for pages updated in and before 2005 for a particular subject, but discard all pages updated in 2006 to today?

  79. The date search feature looks great but I haven’t figured out how to use it. Is there a webpage that shows step by step how do run a search?

  80. Steve

    Any way to do a custom range? I am trying to find articles on a current news article, but want to find out if anyone knew about the topic BEFORE it was release all over the press. This could be a very powerful tool. Say the new story hit yestrday and I want to find all pages created before yesterday? Thank you.

  81. Minni

    How to search for OLDER date ranges?

    Like I want google to list only sites that offer reviews of xxx product
    between the years 2004 and 2006

    Why do they restrict that for crying out loud?

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