New Google Search Commands before: & after:


Good news! Today Google announced support of new search commands – before: and after:! They are currently in beta, but will most likely be fully rolled out soon.

before:

This search operator returns the results before the date specified by you.

Let’s take recent rel=“prev/next” shocking news as a good example of how SEO pagination recommendations changed after the March 21st:

Google Before Search Command

Note that the dates are showing not for all results. According to Google, the dates will be shown only if it thinks they are relevant in this particular situation. This behavior might change though.

By the way, here’s a recent Google post on how to provide the date of your content to Google.

after:

The after: search command returns the documents after a certain date you specify in the search bar:

Google After Search Command

Note that both examples above list a post from March 21st (I highlighted them with a different colour). This means that the before: and after: commands are inclusive: they include the period before or after the specified date and the specified date. I’m not sure if this overlap is a bug or an expected behaviour.

Here’s a comment on this from Danny Sullivan:

before: & after:

This one is really cool: you can get results for a particular date range using both these operators in a single search. For example:

Google Before After Search Command

Frankly speaking, these results are not relevant, hope it’ll get better in future. Here are much better results for Avengers: Endgame:

Google Before After Search Command

It seems that the carousel also shows results for the specified data period which is good.

Supported date formats

You can use the following combinations:

  • year-month-day (e.g. 2017-11-21)
Note 1: You can either use dashes or slashes in dates: 2018-12-31 and 2018/12/31 are both valid
Note 2: You can also use a single digit for month and day:
2012-3-08
2012-03-8
2012-3-8
  • only year (e.g. 2018)

In this case, Google counts the date from Jan 1st of the specified year:

[before:2018] is the same as [before:2018-01-01]

Other way to see results for specific time

Just to refresh your memory, there’s an option to see results with more granular time ranges. You can find this option in Tools -> Any time:

time-date-sort-option-google-search-results

Final bricks

The before: & after: search operators are definitely interesting but not really anticipated. Maybe Googlers decided to give us something new after the sunsetting the info: command and deindexing large number of pages across the web…JK.


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