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SEO 16 min read

Google Search Operators:
Making Advanced Search Easier

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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, its convenience, and the relevancy of search results. It literally allows you to find almost anything in a blink of an eye.

But there's more: Google offers a variety of advanced tools for searching like a pro and getting the best results possible.

The most powerful option among them is Google's advanced search operators that you can apply to your query to narrow down your result set.

If you are new to using this cool Google feature, you definitely need a user-friendly cheat sheet, and this comprehensive list of Google operators is the right place to be.
How the Google Search engine works

What is a Search Operator?

Basically, search operators are commands for the search engine that consist of symbols, characters, or a unique combination of both, aimed at optimizing your search experience.

It's a smart algorithm that includes or excludes certain search results based on your request.

Rather than going through tones of pages, you can use a more efficient approach and save up a lot of time by only focusing on the most relevant and accurate results.

Now, let's start with the basics.
Ranged Search Volume In Google's Keyword Planner. No Reason For Panic.

Google's basic search operators

Search for the exact phrase with quotes: "example"

This is one of the simplest search operators. You can opt for it if you want to search for an exact-matching phrase.

For instance, if you type in "backlink building tools," your SERP will only include links to pages that have the exact text phrase "backlink building tools" in the title, meta description, and body content.

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

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

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

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 others, 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 to fill in a missing word or words in a 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 a search engine marketing tool and a search engine optimization tool. You can make a generic query for both these terms using (*) an operator like "search engine * tool".

Define the number of keywords with AROUND (X)

The wildcard operator we discussed above is a placeholder for one for more words. What if you want to use a placeholder, but you also want to restrict the 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 the 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 a vague idea of something, and you do not remember the exact phrase to search for.

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

An operator to specify that the search results must contain the numbers in a range, and 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 an article like Top (5,6.....50) Content Marketing Tips, use a 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 group together several operators and control the order of operations.

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

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.

Google Advanced Search Operators

Employ new techniques, experimentation, combine methods to find more related pages in the SERP.
These google advanced operators you need to have at hand working with projects.

Find the desired keyword in the 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 a single term or phrase.

For example, search query seo audit intitle:tools will gather the pages that contain the term "tools" in the 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 to having all the query terms in the page title. For instance, if you search Google using "allintitle: competitor analysis tool" query, the results will show the web pages that contain all the terms you've listed: "competitor", "analysis" and "tool" in the page title. These terms can be anywhere in the title. To search for an exact phrase, use intitle operator.

Alternatively, you can use intitle operator multiple times. For example, allintitle:seo tool is the 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 the search keyword (single word) found within their URL. For example, to find out all the pages on serpstat.com that have the term ppc in the URL, you can use query site:serpstat.com inurl:ppc.

This is a suffix operator, meaning 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 operators.

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

Note, that this is also a 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 a term or an exact phrase in the body content of a web page.

For example, intext:marketing search query will collect all the pages that have the keyword "marketing" in their body text. This operator is different from the " " operator. While putting the phrase in quotes searches for an exact phrase in the whole page content, this operator limits the search to the body content.

Search query intext:keyword analysis tips is different from intext:"keyword analysis tips". The first query will display the results from pages that have the term "keyword" in the body content and terms "analysis" and "tips" anywhere in the web page content. The latter one will show you the list of web pages that have the 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 to limit the results based on found 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.

Find just the desired file formats with filetype:

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

For instance, if you perform a search with the 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, the search result will show the links to all the documents related to query term.

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

Google can help you find out the 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 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.

Tips for using Google Search operators

Search within a particular website by using "site:"

This is another basic operator to query pages from the specific domain.

For example, for finding everything related to keyword research on serpstart.com, you can use the query site:serpstat.com keyword research.
You can also search within a folder of a website by using a query like site:example.com/folder

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

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

This is a logical search operator. The search result will meet one of the search query criteria you've defined.

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

Expand the search results with AND operator

When used in Google search, the SERP will show you the pages that satisfy all the search queries.

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

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

Check when your page was last cached using cache: operator

A popular Google search operator to see the latest cached version of a web page.

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

Find similar websites with related: operator

This operator is used for finding websites and web pages that Google believes to be similar to the target domain. This operator works best with large domains.

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

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 ;)

FAQ:

How To Use the Search Operator?

First, define the purpose of your search. Second, learn more about basic and advanced operators. Next, choose the operators that will be useful to complete your tasks, combine them and then type your request in the search and compare the results.

Can search operators be combined?

You can combine advanced operators with basics to obtain more results. For example, intitle:"keyword analysis" OR allinurl:keyword tool query will gather all the web pages that either have "keyword analysis" in the page title, or "keyword" and "tool" in the page URL.

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