We have an update on New Google Search Commands – Before: and After:

Google’s Danny Sullivan today announced new search commands, the before: and after: commands. The new commands allow users to restrict searches to specific dates. The new search command is something Google is testing.

How do the Before/After Commands Work?

The commands accomplish the same functionality as the date range tools for restricting searches to specific date ranges.
According to Danny, the commands are:
“The before: & after: commands return documents before & after a date. You must provide year-month-day dates or only a year. You can combine both. For example:
[Avengers endgame before:2019]
[Avengers endgame after:2019-04-01]
[Avengers endgame after:2019-03-01 before:2019-03-05]”

Old Way of Searching By Date

The old way of searching was by using the date search tool:
Screenshot of a tweet showing a screenshot of the Google Date Search Tool

How to Use Before/After Search Command:

This is a screenshot provided an official announcement by Google:
screenshot of a Google search result page showing the before: after: Google search command in use

Danny Sullivan also provided power user tips:
“Power user note! If you provide only a year, before: & after: translates those into full dates that work, such as follows:
[before:2018] =
[before:2018-01-01]
[after:2018] =
[after:2018-12-31]”
Danny also indicated that you can use dashes or slashes in the dates and that single digits were ok to use ( 5 instead of 05)
Here is what he tweeted:
“2018-12-31
2018/12/31
You can also use a single digit for month or day, so all of these are valid:
2019-3-1
2019-3-12
2019-03-01”

Other Features of Before/After Commands

The publication date of the search result pages will not always be shown. But this is subject to change. Search results shown in the News tab will always feature a publication date.
Curiously, Danny stated that it is difficult for Google to know when a document was published. Thus, the date notation is not to be taken for an absolute but rather Google’s estimation.
“This leads to another power user note about dates. It can be difficult for us to know the exact date of a document for a variety of reasons. There’s no standard way that all site owners use to indicate  publishing or republishing date….”

Using the date tool could sometimes be awkward because it involved a lot of clicking around and filling out input fields. This new feature makes it easier to find information that was published within a specific time period. 

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