Article

Using Google Search Operators

16 Aug 2017

Posted by Lawrence Dudley

You can find anything you need with Google if you know what you’re doing, from searching entire websites for specific keywords to checking related content or loading cached pages.

A lot of SEO is good daily research, finding the right keywords and checking backlinks for example, and aside from paid tools you can use, you can actually accomplish everything with a few good search operators. It also allows you to have a dig around on competitors websites or research some backlink opportunities if you desire. Then again, if you’re a basic user you can use special operators for things like movies or weather.

We’ve put together some of the many advanced search operators and their uses that even the basic user will understand:

Punctuation

There a a number of ‘basic’ punctuation search operators everyone should know: “” means exact match or “search this exactly”, the OR operator that says either this or that and spaced keywords that Google would read as two words. There are also some little tricks you can do such as putting [-] before a word which will remove keywords relating to that from the search or using [*] to fill in the blank.

this OR that

The OR operator will allow you to search within pages that may contain several words, it can be used in conjunction with other operators such as site:example.com this OR that.

site:en.wikipedia.org Marlowe OR Shakespeare

Will give you information on Marlowe or Shakespeare from Wikipedia.

“exact searches”

Quotations allow you to complete exact match searches. Quotes, exact phrases or lyrics can be easily found with this operator, even if you don’t know the exact lyrics you can always just throw in a * between words that will fill in the blank.

“I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none”

-excluding certain results

The - operator allows you to remove certain words with multiple meanings such as jaguar for example if we didn’t want to search for the brand of car, we’d just -car at the end of the query.

jaguar speed -car

This will return results that search for the speed of a jaguar without including search results relating to the car.

Back to Basics

These next operators are more technical and for the site: operator that can often be described as inaccurate. It’s good to pair it with other operators such as inurl: and the other basic operators ~, *, “” and OR

site:example.com

The site: operator allows you to search only one website, hostname or domain. You can pair this with wildcard searches [site:*example.com], keywords [jspdf parall.ax] or search by sub-domains [site:blog.example.com]. The result you get is basically a list of the pages within the index and a count of all those pages when not omitted.

inurl:example.com

This will restrict the search results to websites containing the url so you can combine this with other operators such as the site: one we’ve just learned about or the exact search terms.

link:example.com

The link operator will find all the linked pages that point to that URL, you’ll get quite a lot for that search as example.com IANA reserved.

related:example.com

Want to find related websites, well you’re in luck with the related: operator.

info:example.com

This will show you information about the domain example.com, you’ll be greeted by a nice guide similar to this one that just says:

Google can show you the following information for this URL:

Show Google’s cache of example.com

Find web pages that are similar to example.com

Find web pages that link to example.com

Find web pages from the site example.com

Find web pages that contain the term “example.com”

cache:example.com

The cache operator will show you exactly what Google saw the last time it was indexed, this is useful for seeing if you’ve currently got an old version indexed.

Search operators help us to narrow down our results and perform more advanced research using search engines. If you went though this and can’t really remember any of them there is always Advanced Search that can do all this for you but it’s good to know them off the top of your head. Why not try searching one of your favourite websites or even your own using the site: operator? You’ll be surprised what you can find.

Lawrence Dudley
Posted by Lawrence Dudley

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