Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Why You Should Refine Search Results by Language, Region, and Date

Google’s Advanced Search menu offers more than just tools for refining your search terms. In the Advanced Search menu you’ll find tools for refining search results according to language, region of publication, recency of updates, site or domain, filetype, usage rights, where search terms appear, and exclusion of explicit results. Some of those filters and why you’d use them are easy to ascertain from their names. The reason for using some of the other filters isn’t so obvious.

Narrowing search results by language of publication is helpful for the obvious reason of finding information in the language of your choice. It’s also helpful to narrow search results by language when researching a topic that originated in a language other than your own native tongue. Likewise, if the topic is widely written about by scholars who write in a language other than your own, narrowing a search to that language may lead you to more resources than if you limited yourself to content published in your preferred language. For example, if I'm researching a topic in Japanese history, after reading as much as I can in English I may narrow my search to content published in Japanese. But how do I do that if I can’t read or speak Japanese? Fortunately, modern web browsers including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have translation tools built into them. Of course, those translation tools aren’t without flaws but nonetheless they do open up a comparatively new world of research options.

Refining search results according to the region of publication is useful for many of the same reasons as refining search results according to language of publication. Additionally, viewing search results according to the region of publication is useful when evaluating perspectives on a historical event. Particularly divisive geopolitical events are often written about in distinctly different ways depending upon who is doing the writing, where they live, and their political alliances. Looking at these differences is good for developing a balanced understanding of events.

The option to refine search results according to the last update is obviously helpful when searching for the latest published information about a trending news topic. It’s also helpful when trying to locate webpages that were published during a specific range of dates. A good use case for this is to search for information that was published about an event as it was happening or immediately after it. Then compare that information to more recent information published about the same event. For example, students conducting research about the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 can refine their search results to pages published or updated September 11, 2001 through December 31, 2001 then compare those results to that of search not refined by date of publication.

It should be noted that refining Google search results according to date of update or publication is not always accurate. One of the reasons for that is some website owners will manipulate the content of their pages to make it appear that their sites have been updated even though nothing has materially changed on the site. To get a better picture of what was published on a particular website on a given day, try using The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine contains archived versions of websites. Large, popular websites like are archived more frequently than smaller websites. You can learn how to use The Wayback Machine by watching this short video. A screen image of what looked like on September 11, 2001 as archived by The Wayback Machine is included below.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission.