Google has for some time permitted temporal filtering of search results, limiting what is presented to those before and/or after a specified date. This can help approximate what search results would have been presented to a user at specific points in time. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (IAWM) can then fill in more of the hypothetical historical user journey by showing what those webpages might've looked like contemporaneously.
Temporal filtering has long been available via the Tools menu on the search results page as well as through the Google Advanced Search interface. More recently, explicit date operators — before: and after: — were implemented, that could be included in the search query itself.
While conceptually intuitive, in my experience, the application of temporal filtering to Google searches frequently yields counterintuitive results. It turns out that this has a lot to do with the challenges of determining the relevant date(s) of a webpage. Here I'll unpack what I've learned about temporal filtering of Google search results, with some examples using the date operators.
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