Why it matters: Most of us know that you can filter Google’s search results by time using the Tools menu. Now, the company is bringing this functionality directly to the search box. The tech giant is testing the “before:” and “after:” commands, which allows users to restrict queries to specific dates.
The Tools menu on Google’s Search can filter results by the past hour, 24 hours, week, month, or year. There’s also a custom range where you can select two dates. With the new commands, all these can be performed from the search box itself.
Google tweeted an example of the function being used when searching for Avengers: Endgame articles.
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:— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 9 April 2019
[avengers endgame before:2019]
[avengers endgame after:2019-04-01]
[avengers endgame after:2019-03-01 before:2019-03-05] pic.twitter.com/bo1rSeulbH
Users don’t even have to type in an entire date if they want to search before or after a particular year, and both slash and dash formats are valid.
More power user notes! You can use either dashes or slashes in dates. Both of these are valid:— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 9 April 2019
You can also use a single digit for month or day, so all of these are valid:
The commands are still in their beta test phase, and Google says more improvements will arrive before the final versions roll out; these include changes to the date displays. Currently, the filtering tools show dates next to the links it returns, but as there’s no standard way for site owners to show publishing or republishing dates, these might not be accurate. Therefore, Google is looking at removing them. The exception is for news article results, which Google says have accurate publishing dates.
When using our existing date filtering tools, a date is always shown for each page listed. Dates are only shown for before: & after: if our systems think they’re especially relevant to show. This is a behavior we might change…. pic.twitter.com/Yz83ZEIL0O— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 9 April 2019
Finally, Google is retiring the sort-by-date option that appeared when using date filtering. Again, this feature will remain when using the News search as Google says the dates in this section tend to be correct.
Within news search, sort-by-date is very useful. That’s because we often have good confidence about the dates associated with stories. Sort-by-date works there because the dates are meaningful and valid.... pic.twitter.com/GizY7zfNpO— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) 9 April 2019