Content SEO 3 min read

Google Introduces New Search Commands – Before: and After:

In a push to create a more relevant search experience, Google has added new search commands to its platform to enable users to search through specific publication dates.

This new set of search commands allows users to have a more specific date range from which to search from. ¦ Pixabay

This new set of search commands allows users to have a more specific date range from which to search from. ¦ Pixabay

Last week, Google announced a new search feature to allow users to filter their web searches by date – the before: and after: commands. But, according to Danny Sullivan, the new search commands are still in the beta testing stage.

Following the announcement of these new features, the search engine company quietly noted that they had discontinued the “sort by date” feature in search. Google also said that it does not intend to remove the date picker from the desktop search.

So, how do the new search commands work?

How the Before and After Commands Work

Danny did an excellent job of explaining how the commands work. According to the SEO guru, the before: and after: commands basically do the same thing as the date range tool. It restricts searches to specific date ranges.

That means, after entering your search query, you just have to input the date syntax – which could include the year, month and day or only the year – in the before: and/or after: command.

For example, if you wanted to learn about Marvel’s Avengers series, you could look up:

  • [avengers endgame before:2019]
  • [avengers endgame after:2019-04-01]
  • [avengers endgame after:2019-03-01 before:2019-03-05]


Image Credit: Google SearchLiason on Twitter


Tips For Power Users

Aside from the basic use outlined above, Danny Sullivan also provided tips for power users. He explains that if a user provides only a year, the new command features translates it into full dates as outlined below.

  • [before:2018] =
  • [before:2018-01-01]
  • [after:2018] =
  • [after:2018-12-31]”

Also, it doesn’t matter if you write your date with dashes or slashes, Danny says it all works fine. Single digits are also okay to use — for instance, 6 instead of 06.

Here’s what he tweeted;

Other Features of  The New Search Commands

While the publication date of a post will not always be shown on the search result page, this is subject to change. However, search results in the News Tab will always include a publication date.

According to Danny, establishing the exact publication date for a document is a complicated process, and Google has difficulty doing it. As such, the search engine provides merely an estimation, rather than an absolute date.

He tweeted:

“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 a publishing or republishing date….”

Read the official Google announcement on Twitter

Read More: Google Updates Search Console to Include new Discover Feature

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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