People spend hours every day online searching information on a specific topic like a brand, a keyword or list of keywords that they want to get relevant websites, blogs, documents (pdf, ppt, doc), people’s name, companies, competitors etc.
Sometimes they don’t even know where to start – they can become very overwhelmed by the number of search results or even… quit!
Yet despite Google’s improvement over the last few years, people seem to be losing their ability to perform advanced searches within Google — something I’d define as critical to navigating the web efficiently and effectively either as a simple user or, especially, as a search marketer.
Google Search Operators: Get What You Want
What is a Search Operator: A search operator (sometimes referred to as a search parameter) is a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search, getting out of Google exactly what you want.
So, instead of surrendering your power and trusting Google, let’s take a look at a list of the top 15 Google search operators and how to use them effectively to perform advanced searches.
The List of Google Search Operators
- site:example.com – The very basic of all Google query operators. Paired with a domain (or a subdomain) gives you an estimated count of the number of indexed pages for that domain or subdomain. This basic search operator can be extremely useful in situations where you would like to track down if a subdomain was accidentally indexed (i.e. a development or a staging subdomain).
- site:example.com/folder – When you want to dive deeper into the results displayed after using site:example.com is to provide a sub-folder (like “/services”) – just add the folder name to the end of the root domain. If you know a site’s basic architecture, you can use this operator to drill down into the index quickly and spot crawl problems or even perform a competition analysis.
- site:example.com inurl:text – The “inurl:” operator searches for specific text in the indexed URLs of a specific domain. Text could be anything: from a keyword that we want to check (site:example.com inurl:seo) to a subdomain (site:example.com inurl:blog).
- site:example.com -inurl:text – Adding [-] to most operators tells Google to search for anything but that particular text. Like the case right above, text could be anything: from a keyword that we want to exclude (site:example.com -inurl:seo) to a subdomain (site:example.com -inurl:blog.example.com). In the first example, all URLs of the specific domain will be displayed apart from the URLs that contain the term “SEO“. In the second example, all URLs will be displayed except for the ones belonging in blog.example.com (this is really useful when identifying non-canonical URLs that Google may have crawled). You can combine as many inurl:” operators as you need to remove additional terms from the query. On top of that, you may also put a protocol (such as “https:”, “ftp:” etc) into an “inurl:” operator. By doing that you can confirm ie any secured pages that Google may have indexed.
- site:example.com any_text_query – This is one of the most commonly used operators and works pretty much like a logical [AND]. You can combine the “site:” operator with any simple text query. Google will filter all the results that include part or exactly the entire text query.
- site:example.com “any_text_query“ – If you want to overcome the “loose [AND]” functionality of the above-mentioned operator you can put your text query in quotes. By doing that, you instruct Google to return only exact-match phrases. This operator is very useful as you can identify pages where the same keyword is repeated over and over again (keyword cannibalisation).
- site:example.com text1 OR text2 – The logical [OR] operator. In this case, Google returns all the pages (URIs) where “text1”, “text2” or both terms are included within the copy.
- site:example.com intitle:”any_text_query“ – The “intitle:” operator matches text that appears in the title tag. Very useful for quickly identifying pages with duplicated content during a technical SEO audit or when performing competition analysis.
- intitle:”any_text_query“ – Although this is not a site operator, this operator is maybe the simplest way to identify stolen content across the web. So if you want to check that your unique content was not copied “accidentally” use this operator with your articles’ titles as text queries.
- site:example.com intext:”any_text_query“ – Similar to the “intitle:” operator but this time Google matches only terms in the body of the page (and the URL) but not the title.
- site:example.com filetype:doc – When you are searching for a file of a specific type (doc, pdf, ppt etc) it is recommended to use the “filetype:” operator instead of the “inurl:” operator that will match both the files we are looking for as well as any other pages that include the extension letters in the URL.
- site:.org “any_text_query“ – Instead of our domain we can target with the site operator any given Top-Level Domain (TLD). This usage is very useful for competitive research and link building purposes.
- info:example.com – This search operator can get information about a web address, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, pages that link to the site or web pages that contain the term “example.com”.
- link:example.com – Pretty much self-explanatory. Using this operator you can find pages that link to a certain page.
- cache:example.com – See what a page looks like the last time Google visited and indexed the website.
Remembering these 15 simple Google search operators and using them creatively can give you the power to search effectively like a pro.
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2022? Get in touch today!