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SEO 15 min read September 14, 2017

Google Search Operators: Making Advanced Search Easier

Main image for:Google search operators. Making advanced search easier

Mark Durbin
Content creator and tech editor at Technoxy.com
Google has been the top search engine for years given its powerful reach across the world. This is mostly due to the massive database of indexed websites, relevancy of search result and the convenience it offers in terms of using the platform.

Moreover, it is undeniable that the Google search engine provides relevant results before you can blink your eyes.
Apart from the fact that you can find out almost anything about everyone through the Google search engine, it also offers advanced users variety of tools and options to further fine tune search result. Most powerful option among these is advanced search operators, that you can apply on the search query to narrow down result set.

By using advanced search operators, you will be able to obtain more refined results. If you are new to using this advanced Google feature, you definitely need a user-friendly cheat sheet, unlike SEO specialists who consider the search operators their bread and butter. Basically, the search operators can be found in symbols, characters, or a unique combination of both.

Here is a comprehensive list of advanced search operators to master Google search and get best from Google search results.


Search for the exact phrase with "example"

This is the simplest search operator. You can use this search operator if you want to search for exact phrase. For instance, if you type in "backlink building tools," your search result will only include links to pages that have exact text phrase backlink building tools in title, meta description, and body content.

The search operator is also useful if you want to search for people by name, book titles, products, quotes.


Search within the particular website using site:example.com

This is another basic operator to query pages from the specific domain. For example, to find everything related to keyword research on serpstart.com, you can use query site:serpstat.com keyword research.

You can also search within a folder of a website using query site:example.com/folder

For example to search for growth hacking articles blog on Serpstat blog, use query site:serpstat.com/blog growth hacking.


Find the desired keyword in title tag with intitle:

A simple and useful Google search operator that will provide you with a list of web pages with the keyword you specified in their <title> tag. This operator is used for single term or phrase.

For example, search query seo audit intitle:tools will return pages that contain term tools in page title and contain seo and audit terms anywhere in the web page content.


Search for the desired keywords only within title tag with allintitle: operator

As the name suggests, you can add this search operator to your search query to restrict the results having all the query terms in page title. For instance, if you search Google using "allintitle: competitor analysis tool" query, results will show web pages that contain all the terms "competitor", "analysis" and "tool" in page title. These terms can be anywhere in the title. To search for exact phrase, use intitle operator.

Alternatively you can use intitle operator multiple times. For example, allintitle:seo tool is same as intitle:seo intitle:tool.


Find the pages that have the desired keyword in the page's URL with inurl:

This search operator displays web pages with search keyword (single word) found within their URL. For example, to find out all the pages on serpstat.com website that have term ppc in URL, you can use query site:serpstat.com inurl:ppc.

This is suffix operator meaning if you should place it at the end of your search query.


Search for several keywords within pages' URLs with help of allinurl: operator

This search operator is good for searching multiple terms in URL. This is equivalent to using multiple inurl operator.

For instance, if you search using the term allinurl:content analysis tool, Google search result will show web pages that have the terms content, analysis and tool in their URL. Terms in URL can appear anywhere.

Note, that this is also suffix operator.


Use intext: to find the pages that include the desired keyword in the body tag

Use this operator to find all the pages that contain term or exact phrase in body content of web page.

For example, intext:marketing search query will return all the pages that have keyword marketing in their body content. This operator is different from " " operator. While " " operator searches for exact phrase in the whole page content, this operator searches only body content.

Search query intext:keyword analysis tips is different from intext:"keyword analysis tips". Former query will show results from pages that have term keyword in body content and terms analysis and tips anywhere web page content. Later query will return list of web pages that have exact phrase keyword analysis tips in body content.


Find the pages with multiple keywords in the body tag with the help of allintext:

You can use this search operator in order to limit the results based on the keywords following the term. For example, search query allintext:keyword analysis tips will provide you with a list of pages that have terms keyword, analysis and tips in the document content section.


Use OR operator to see the results that meet one of the specified queries

This is logical OR search operator. The search result will meet one of the search query criteria defined using OR operator.

For instance, intitle:"keyword analysis" OR allinurl:keyword tool query will return all the web pages that either have keyword analysis phrase in page title or keyword and tool term in page URL. You can also use pipe (|) symbol for OR operator.


Expand the search results with AND operator

This operator functions the way a logical and operator works. When used in search, Google search result will show pages that satisfy all the search queries.

For instance, search query site:serpstat.com AND intitle:seo AND intext:link building, will show all the pages from website serpstat.com that have term seo in page title and terms link and building in page body content.

Always remember to use capital letters for OR and AND operator.


Find just the desired file formats with filetype:

This operator is used for searching content of files (pdf file, word file, excel file, ppt file etc) available on the internet.

For instance, if you perform search with query link building tips filetype:docx, Google search result will include links to all the docx files that are related to link building tips.

If you do not specify file format in search query, search result will show links to all the documents related to query term.


Check when your page was last cached using cache: operator

A popular Google search operator to see latest cached version of a web page. Google will directly display cached version of web page.

For instance, if your search query is cache:https://serpstat.com/blog/why-and-how-to-advertise-on-facebook/, Google will show the cached version of this page as stored by Google. It is quite useful in checking articles that websites delete immediately after publishing due to various reasons. In a rare case, it is also helpful in recovering your website content if you do not have proper backup data or you lose control of website backup data.


Find similar websites with related: operator

This operator is used for finding websites and web pages that Google think are similar to a target domain. This operator works best with large domains.

The related operator will not work if you combine it with other operators.


Narrow the search results with the help of minus(-) operator

This operator is used for removing pages from search result set that are related to term or keyword specified with operator. Quite useful in narrowing down search result.

Let's say you are searching for java and you definitely do not want any pages that are related to beans or coffee. You can query using java -beans -coffee.

You can use this operator with other operators, for example:

  • To remove pages from example.com domain, use -site:example.com;
  • If you do not want any specific term in page title, use -intitle:keyword;
  • If you do not want any specific term in URL, use -inurl:keyword.


Let Google fill in the missing word(s) in your search query using * (wildcard operator)

This is a placeholder operator. It is used in order to fill in a missing word or words in keyword or phrase.

This is helpful if you want to search for a generic phrase with slight variation.

Let's say you are searching for search engine marketing tool and search engine optimization tool. You can make a generic query for both these terms using (*) operator like "search engine * tool".


Define the number of keywords with AROUND (X)

The wildcard operator we discussed above is placeholder for one for more words. What if you want to use placeholder but you also want to restrict number of words for placeholder. That is where AROUND(X) is useful. AROUND operator finds terms and phrases in proximity and X defines the maximum words between two search query terms or phrases.

You can reconstruct search engine tool query we used above, using AROUND(X) operator to search engine AROUND(3) tool.

This operator is quite helpful when you have vague idea of something and you do not remember exact phrase to search for.


Search for synonyms to the requested keyword with ~ (tilde or synonym operator)

This operator tells Google to search query term mentioned after operator and also search for query term synonyms.

For example, if you search using query seo ~guide, Google will show result for SEO guide, SEO tutorial, and SEO tips. It is up to Google to decide what is good synonym for a term. If you are not happy with Google suggestion, you can always use OR operator.


Use .. (range operator) to search for the numbers in a range

An operator to specify that search result contains numbers in a range. Can be used for price range or date range.

For example, to search for Lenovo laptop with price between $900 to $1100, use query lenovo laptop $900..$1100.

You can also use this query to find listicle articles. To find out article like Top (5,6.....50) Content Marketing Tips, use query Top 5..50 Content Marketing Tips. Or you can use this operator to define date range like 2011..2012.


Use several complex search operators together with the help of ()

Use this operator to club together operators and control order of operations.

For example to search for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus in refurbished or second-hand condition, you can use query ("iPhone 7" OR "iPhone 7 plus") AND (intext: refurbished OR intext:second-hand).


Search for the results within the specific location with location: operator

Use this operator find content that is from a given place.

For example, to find SEO agency in San Francisco, use query seo agency location:san francisco.


Learn the meaning of the desired word with the help of define: operator

Google can help you find out definition of a term or phrase using this operator. Search for define:content marketing, and Google will tell you what content marketing means.


Search within the specific website using source:

It is a Google news search operator to find out content from a specific news source. If you are looking for news related to hurricane Irma from CNN, just use query Irma source:cnn.


Find more info about any website with info:

This operator provides information about a website. This includes the cached version of website, sites that are similar to website, web pages from website and web pages that have matching term for domain name. Earlier Google used to reveal links to queried website but it does not provide that information now.


Specify the date with daterange:

This operator provides result that are within date and time range. It is bit cumbersome to use as you need to enter dates in Julian format. You can use online conversion tool to get dates in Julian format.


Search for prices using $ sign

Search for content with price. For example, a search for logitech keyboard $99 will try to find out Logitech keyboards that are priced at $99. You can also use (.) for detailed price like $49.95. It is advisable to use range operator to get better result.


Find out the stock price with stock:

To quickly find out price of a stock and other details. For example to check Amazon's stock price use stock:amazon.


Summing up

These are the most common search operators currently available. As Google gets better at understanding natural language and improving its search capability, it keeps on removing support for operators.

These operators are boon for any person working in SEO field. You can analyse your competitor, find backlink opportunities, find out about guest posting blogs etc.

It takes practice to get more from these operators, and a little bit of creativity will provide you great advantage over your competitor ;)
I'll be glad to answer your question, leave them in comments!

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