Google Search Without Ads or AI: How to Get Just Links in Your Results

Looking to ditch AI Overviews from your Google Search results? This easy hack ensures that you only see web links.

Peter Butler Senior Editor
Peter is a writer and editor for the CNET How-To team. He has been covering technology, software, finance, sports and video games since working for @Home Network and Excite in the 1990s. Peter managed reviews and listings for Download.com during the 2000s, and is passionate about software and no-nonsense advice for creators, consumers and investors.
Expertise 18 years of editorial experience with a current focus on personal finance and moving
Peter Butler
6 min read
Google sign amid vegetation at the company's Mountain View, California, headquarters

Google Search has changed dramatically since it was introduced back in 1998.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

At the Google I/O event on May 14, the internet giant launched the biggest change to its search results in perhaps decades: AI Overviews. For many common search queries, people will now see an AI summary that dominates the top of their results.

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Not all users are thrilled by the new AI Overviews, especially those who are searching for links, not answers to questions. Luckily, a new "Web" search filter gives you exactly that: nothing but text-based links; no ads, no AI, no images and no videos.

Even better, you can get those link-based results on Google just by searching with your browser address bar. We'll show you how to do it on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Microsoft Edge.

What is the Google Search Web filter?

Google's new Web filter is similar to its filters for results like News, Images, Videos or Shopping. When the Web filter is selected, your search results will return only text-based links, with no advertisements, AI summaries or knowledge panels like "Top Stories" or "People Always Ask."

The new filter should appear below the search box on the Google Search results page, among other filters like News, Images and Videos. You'll usually have to click the three-dot "More" menu to see it as an option.

a screenshot of Google search results for nfl streaming services, showing the Web filter available from a drop-down More menu

The Web filter for Google Search will usually be placed in the menu for More filters underneath the search box.

Google/Screenshot by CNET

Clicking the Web filter link will give you Google Search results composed entirely of text-based links, with no answers, ads, AI or anything else. "Web" will now be underlined and highlighted in blue under the search query box.

As with AI Overviews, we're currently only seeing the Web filter on the Chrome browser when logged into our Google accounts, but it seems to show up on other browsers regardless of logged-in status.

a screenshot of the Google search results page, showing only Web links for nfl streaming services

Google's Web filter removes snippets and other knowledge panels from your results.

Google/Screenshot by CNET

How do I get Google Search Web filter results for my address bar searches?

Depending on your browser, it's fairly easy to customize your browser settings so that your address bar searches go straight to the Google Web filter results. You'll need to create a custom site search shortcut in your browser and then trigger that search option with a keyword or make it your default for all searches. 

The critical URL that you need to remember is https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14. The "%s" represents your search query, and the "udm=14" tag limits your results to the new Web filter.

Here's how to add the necessary custom site search for Google's Web filter in the four most popular web desktop browsers -- Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.

Google Chrome

Open up a Google Chrome browser window, then click on the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, next to your Google account profile. Click Settings near the bottom of that menu. You can also get to your Chrome settings by entering chrome://settings in the browser address bar.

Select Search engine from the left-hand column, then click "Manage search engines and site search" in the middle of the browser window. Next, scroll down to "Site search" and click the blue Add button.

In the resultant pop-up window, create a name for the new search shortcut and a keyword for triggering it. We chose "Old Google" and "og." For the last field -- "URL with %s in place of query" -- enter that URL we mentioned above: https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14. Then click the blue Add button.

Now when you search your address bar using "og" + your search term, you'll get results using Google's Web filter.

If you'd like to make it your default search option, click the three-dot menu next to your new site search and select "Make default." After you make the new search shortcut your default search, all of your address-bar searches will use the Web filter -- no keyword needed.

a screenshot of the Google Chrome search engine settings, showing how to mark a site search shortcut as the default search engine for the browser address bar

After you create the site search shortcut for Google's Web filter, you can make it your default search engine.

Google Chrome/Screenshot by CNET

Microsoft Edge

The Windows browser is based on the Chromium codebase, so the steps for adding a Google Search Web filter shortcut are similar to Google Chrome. Navigate into Settings by clicking the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, then select Privacy, search, and services

Near the bottom of the following screen, select Address bar and search, then Manage search engines. Alternatively, you can navigate directly to that screen by entering edge://settings/searchEngines in your Edge address bar.

Click the Add button to create your new site search shortcut. The Search engine is your name for the shortcut (I used "Old Google"), the Shortcut is the term that triggers that specific site search (I used "og"), and the URL template is the string that triggers the Google Search Web filter: https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14

a screenshot of the Microsoft Edge search engine settings page, showing how to add a new custom search engine

Search engines in Microsoft Edge work very similarly to Google Chrome.

Microsoft Edge/Screenshot by CNET

To make that new Google URL your default search, go back to the Address bar and search settings page and click on the drop-down menu next to Search engine used in the address bar. Select your new custom site search, and your address bar searches will default to the Google Search Web filter.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox works a little bit differently for setting up search shortcuts. Instead of using the search settings, you'll create a new bookmark with a keyword shortcut, then use that keyword in the address bar to trigger the Web filter results for Google Search. Unfortunately, Firefox doesn't let you add new search engines in its desktop version.

From the Bookmarks drop-down in Firefox, select Manage Bookmarks. On the following screen, right-click on the folder in your Bookmarks where you'd like to place the shortcut, then select "Add Bookmark." (Since you'll be triggering it from the address bar, it doesn't matter where the bookmark lives.)

In the following pop-up window, enter a Name (for example, "Old Google"), the URL https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14 and a Keyword (such as "og") to save the search filter as a bookmark. Hit the "Save" button, and the Google Web filter results will be available by entering your keyword before any address-bar searches.

a screenshot of the settings for Mozilla Firefox bookmarks

To search Google's Web filter with Mozilla Firefox, you'll need to use a bookmark with a keyword shortcut.

Mozilla Firefox/Screenshot by CNET

Apple Safari

Safari doesn't enable custom site shortcuts by default. The only way we were able to add the Google Web filter search was by installing the free Safari extension Smart Keyword Search, which enables site search shortcuts.

After installing Smart Keyword Search, the first thing you'll need to do is enable it to adjust your Google search results. Go into Settings, click Extensions at the top of the window, select Smart Keyword Search, then click on the "Edit Websites" button. On the following page, click the drop-down menu next to google.com and select "Allow."

a screenshot of the Smart Keyword Search extension's settings for Safari

You'll need to allow the Smart Keyword Search extension the permission to adjust Google searches.

Safari/Screenshot by CNET

Now close the Settings window, and click the icon for Smart Keyword Search that appears next to the Safari address bar. You'll see a pop-up window with the various "rules" the extension uses to modify searches. Click the "compose" button to start a new rule, then enter a name (such as. "Old Google"), prefix (for example, "og") and a familiar URL for the Web filter search shortcut.

a screenshot of the Smart Keyword Search extension for Safari's rules

The Smart Keyword Search extension for Safari uses slightly different syntax.

Safari/Screenshot by CNET

Smart Keyword Search uses the variable "{search}" instead of "%s" to indicate a search query, so you'll need to enter a slightly different URL: https://google.com/search?q={search}&utm=14. Hit the "submit" button. Now entering "og" (or your selected prefix) before any searches in your address bar will return results restricted by Google's Web filter.

How to restrict your Google Web searches to 'verbatim' results

You can further customize your searches on Google so that the search engine only returns results based on the exact terms that you use -- not synonyms or related terms. The "verbatim" option was introduced back in 2011 and is usually accessed via the "Tools" link under most Google searches.

To add a "verbatim" restriction to your Web filter shortcut, append the attribute "&tbs=li:1" to the end of your custom search URL: https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14&tbs=li:1

Any searches that you make using that new URL will now only return text-based web links for your exact search queries.

For more, discover how to use Google's circle-to-search feature on the iPhone and five Google Assistant settings you need to change right now.

Editors' note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you're reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.