Google Search Operators
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Google Search Operators: A Guide to Advanced Search Operators

What are Search Operators?

Search operators are symbols and character strings that you can use to make your search engine work better for you. Search operators have been around for as long as search engines, and many of the original operators are still used today! 

You may have learned about search operators in school as a way to find scholarly sources for papers, or in the library as a way to narrow down your search by things like author, genre, or title. You might also remember operators from math class, as symbols that indicate the order of operations and cause actions to be performed. 

In SEO, search operators are powerful tools that help us narrow our search results down to exactly what we’re trying to find. Keep reading for examples of basic and advanced search operators that will help you become a more effective Search Engine Optimizer!

Introductory Search Operators

Below are some of the most basic search operators that you can use in your day-to-day life as an SEO Analyst. You may be surprised to find that you’ve already been using some of these search operators without knowing it.

Operator  Example Instructions
site: site:searchbloom.com Using site: followed by a domain name will only return results from that domain. 

Subdomains are included in these results by default. Including additional information such as www. Or a subfolder will narrow your results. 

E.G. try site:searchbloom.com
Vs. site:www.searchbloom.com

Vs.
site:searchbloom.com/tools

” “ SEO Company Putting a search term or phrase inside ” “ double quotes makes that part of your search exact match. 

Search engine results will be limited to pages that contain your exact word or phrase inside quotes.

Using quotes on individual words will prevent synonyms from populating search results. 

OR seo OR ppc Put OR (all caps) between two search terms to specify that you’re looking for one result or the other.

Google will default to using AND logic between terms unless you specify otherwise with an operator like OR
| seo | ppc | Pipe (shift + forward slash) also means OR. You can use the two interchangeably.

Use spaces between your terms and the | operator.

( ) (seo OR ppc) best ROI Parenthesis () work the same in search engines as they do in math equations or spreadsheets. You can use them to group operations together, and determine the order that they execute.

This example will look for seo OR ppc first, then add best ROI to the search parameters.

seo agency The minus sign excludes a term from the search results.

Do not put a space between the minus sign and your term or it won’t work. 
* “Best SEO * Asterisk * works like a wildcard, just like in a robots.txt or redirect file.

Using an asterisk will allow any matching term(s) to fill in the gap.

Especially useful for keyword research when you’re using quotes for exact match but don’t know the whole phrase.
#..# Top SEO company 2015..2022 Putting two periods .. between two different numbers will make your search return any whole number between the two values.
$ Golf club $150 Using the dollar sign $ allows you to search prices. Combine with a period . to add cents to make the price more exact.

Also works with and £, but most international symbols don’t work on google.com. When searching for international prices, use appropriate international google tld’s. E.G. use google.co.jp for searches in Japanese Yen ¥
in 2 cups in liters Google interprets “in” as a term to convert one unit to another. Units must be equivalent, you can’t try to convert MPH into LBS.

These searches usually return Google instant answer results.

Common Problems to solve

  • Find competitive products within an exact price range
    • Use a combination of “”, $, and #..#
  • Discover keyword variations in the serp
    • Use a keyword plus * and add  “” if needed
  • Find results from a specific range of dates
    • Use .. to search publish dates year..year
  • Compare two options within the same industry
    • Use a combination of “”, (), and OR to narrow results e.g. (android OR iphone) “best smartphone”
  • See if your site has any lingering http pages

site:http://yourwebsiteurl.com

Advanced Search Operators

These advanced search operators allow you to perform more specialized searches. These can come in handy in many SEO scenarios, especially when you’re digging into issues with a specific part of a website. 

When using advanced search operators with a colon (:) do not put a space between the colon and your search terms.

Operator  Example Instructions
intitle: Intitle:seo Use intitle: followed by a keyword without a space to search for results with that keyword located in the pages title tag. 

You can chain multiple together to show a variety of results. E.g. intitle:seo intitle:ppc intitle:sem; or use “quotes” to search for an exact phrase inside a title tag.

allintitle: Allintitle:best seo company Allintitle: works the same way as multiple intitle:’s except you can use an entire phrase. 

Works with or without quotes to be close or exact match respectively.

inurl: Seo company inurl:best Inurl: allows you to search for a word located in the URL of a page. Will find target keywords in any part of the URL structure.
allinurl: Allinurl:best seo company Use allinurl: to find a phrase or multiple keywords in the URL of a page.
intext: Intext:searchbloom Intext: allows you to search for a word located in the body of text on a page. 

Works with exact match phrases if you use “quotes”.

allintext: Allintext:searchbloom Utah 100 Allintext: only returns results that include every search term on the page. 

Just like stringing multiple intext’s together.

filetype: Searchbloom awards Filetype:pdf Filetype: filters results to return the specified file type. 

Common examples include PDF, DOCX, XLS, PPT, JS and TXT.

Ext:(short for file extension) is interchangeable with filetype:

related: Related:1800contacts.com Related: followed by a domain without a space returns results that are not from the specified domain, but are topically related to it. 

Only works for large domains.

AROUND(X) searchbloom AROUND(3) seo AROUND(#) Returns results where the surrounding terms/phrases are within (X) words of each other. 

E.G. searchbloom AROUND(3) seo could return results containing “searchbloom sem ppc and seo”, but it should not return “searchbloom has won many awards for its seo campaigns”

cache: Cache:searchbloom.com Cache: followed by a URL with no space returns your most recently cached version of a page, as long as it exists in the Google index.
map: Map:sandy Using map: forces google to return a maps result if the search term is a location.

E.G. Sandy, Utah is a city with a name that is more likely to be interpreted as an adjective. Try “what is sandy” vs. “map:what is sandy”

Common Problems to solve

  • Find competitors for your website
    • Use Related:yourswebsite.com if they’re large enough
    • Use a combination of Intitle: Inurl: and Intext: to find websites that contain your money keywords
  • Find all URL’s with a certain keyword/phrase in their title
    • Use intitle: or allintitle: for keyword or keyword phrases, respectively
  • FInd all files/downloadable assets on a website
    • Combine Site: and Filetpye:
  • Research pages with target keywords in their title, url, body
    • Use Site: plus a combination of Intitle: Inurl: and Intext: to find examples on your site
    • Use a combination of Intitle: Inurl: and Intext: to find all websites that contain specified keywords in those sections of their site
  • Show what local results would look like for a term that doesn’t always generate a map
    • Use Map: to make Google return a map result of your keyword. E.G. map:turkey
  • Find unique keyword phrase results that you won’t find in keyword research
    • Use Around(x) to identify long-tail keyword phrases across the web that may have too low of search volume to be stored in keyword research databases
  • Find results from competitors with a certain subdomain or TLD

Use Inurl: followed by whatever subdomain or TLD you are looking for e.g. data Inurl:dev.

Chaining Operators together

Find “tag” pages in a WordPress site

Example – site:wordpresssite.com inurl:tag 

Find insecure pages that are still indexed

To see if Google indexes pages from a partner’s website that are not secured by SSL you can combine the site: operator with and inurl to filter out results to only the website without secure results.

Example – Site:searchbloom.com -inurl:https 

Find a websites outdated resources

To see if your website has resources that were only relevant to a specific year, use the site: operator plus the asterisk* to return any results that fall within a range of years separated by .. operators. Bonus: use filetype:.pdf to make your search even narrower

Example – Site:yoursite.com *2012..2021 filetype:pdf

Find all pages with specific keywords in their title

To see if competitors are using certain keywords in their titles, and ignore titles that include irrelevant variations, use intitle: plus the ”” and  operators to create a unique search. This helps you narrow results to actual competitors and exclude irrelevant variations of the same keyword term.

Example – intitle:”data streaming” -netflix -youtube

Identify exact duplicate content

To see if websites are copying your partner’s content, you can put the entire body of content in quotes”. If you suspect a specific website of copying content, use site:theirsite.com and “the body of content you want to find copies of”

Example – site:https://dataintegration.info Fast setup with schema conversion and initial load into your analytics platforms

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Meet fast data SLAs (sub-second delivery) with fast data streaming and end-to-end lag monitoring

Low cost of ownership with fully managed, fully dedicated cloud infrastructure by Striim

Enterprise-level security with encrypted data at-rest and in-flight

Consumption-based pricing; pay only for the data you successfully move from source to target and the compute you need in that moment

Find opportunities for internal linking or content consolidation

Look within a partner’s website for other pages that contain your target keyword to either find internal link opportunities, or find pages discussing the same topic that you could combine into a content pillar/hub. Combine operators like site:, , “”, intext:, or intitle: to get a quick list of opportunities.

Internal Linking Example – site:yourwebsite.com intext:”organic latex” -dunlop

Combining Blogs Example – site:yourwebsite.com/blog -site:yourwebsite.com/blog/directory/ intitle:card

Discover competitor Shopify stores that sell similar products

All Shopify stores use the /collections and /products file paths to store product categories and products, respectively. Use operators like inurl:, intitle:, ,”” ,OR ,()  

Example – inurl:/collections inurl:“cotton sheets” -organicORnatural

 

Conclusion

Search operators can save you hours of time and effort when you employ them correctly. Start using these operators in your daily life as an SEO and see how they can help you. We’d love to hear additional examples of how combining search operators helps SEO’s solve complex problems. If you have examples to share then tag us on social media! (Links below)

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About the Author

Jonathan Rogers

Jonathan has worked in every facet of digital marketing. Starting out as a web developer, his career then moved into web design, SEO, and then full-service digital marketing. A holistic strategist at heart, Jonathan is always looking for new ways to improve our partner's performance, while employing tried and tested methods to age-old problems.