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Google search is a powerful tool in itself. However, you can leverage Google Search Operators to elevate or narrow your search. These operators help you gain insight into search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities as well as audit points. So, let’s understand the functions of different search operators and how you can use them.

What are Google Search Operators?

Google Search Operators are special Google search commands and characters that extend the capabilities of standard text searches. They are sometimes called “advanced operators” or search parameters that extend the capabilities of regular searches and can prove to be useful for content research to technical SEO audits. 

In order to use a search operator, you need to directly enter it into the Google search box. This process of searching remains the same as that of a text search. 

Benefits of Using Advanced Google Search Operators

Advanced search operators help you with refined search results. You can use different Google search parameters to construct your own Google search strings by typing them into the address bar. Some of the essential benefits of using these search operators are:

  • Makes Your Search Results More Specific

With advanced search operators, you can get more specific results. For instance, consider a general search for “healthy recipes” on Google, providing you with an overwhelming 500 million results. 

Now when you apply the filetype search operator, one of the advanced search features, you can refine your search by writing “healthy recipes filetype:pdf.” By doing so you can streamline your results to specific PDF documents related to healthy recipes, offering a more focused and manageable set of information. 

  • Take Your Business to the Next Level

You can leverage Google search operators to elevate your business strategies. With these operators, you can seamlessly identify valuable content and link-building opportunities, ensuring a robust online presence. Additionally, you can pinpoint SEO issues, including prominent indexing errors to enhance the overall performance of your digital assets. 

Additionally, by using search operators, you can also uncover relevant research and statistics to refine and bolster your content, contributing to a more informed and impactful online presence. Moreover, it can also help you efficiently assess the competitiveness of long-tail keywords, empowering your strategic decision-making and optimizing your online visibility. 

Rules of Search Operators

There are two major rules when it comes to Google operators:

  • If punctuation is not a part of the search operator, Google will usually disregard it.
  • Avoid spaces between your symbol or word command and your search term. For example, “typefile:pdf” will work instead of “typefile: pdf.”

List of Search Operators in Google

Find the Google operators list with respect to three categories- basic, advanced, and unreliable. 

  1. Basic Search Operators 

Basic search operators are operators that modify standard text searches. The following are the type of searches you can do using these operators.

  • “ ”

The “ ” command plays a significant role in Google Searches. When you enclose a term in quotes, you are essentially narrowing down the search results to an exact match of that phrase. Google then retrieves web pages containing the specific phrase in their body copy, title, and description.

The “keyword” command serves not only to refine search results but also is an efficient method for identifying instances where your content might have been duplicated. You can copy a paragraph from your online content, paste it within the quotation marks, and conduct a search. This can help you quickly determine if someone has replicated your work. While online plagiarism tools exist for this purpose, utilizing the “ ” search modifier remains one of the fattest ways to address potential content theft. 

  • OR

The OR command is a search operator that helps you combine searches. You have to insert the capitalized OR between your search terms after which Google presents results that meet either the criteria of the first search term OR the second. 

Keyword1ORkeyword2

Therefore, the OR command is particularly beneficial when conducting research that requires information on multiple items, without necessarily seeking results that include references to both simultaneously.  

  • |
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To use the | search operator, you need to place it between two search terms without any spaces. For instance, if you want information related to either “technological trends” or “innovations,” you would enter the query as follows:  

technological trends|innovations

Google will then generate results that meet the criteria of either the first or second term, providing a comprehensive set of information for your search. Alternatively, you can use this pipe (|) operator instead of OR in case your caps lock is dysfunctional. You will get the same result.

  • – 

The minus (-) sign is the symbol of exclusion. This sign excludes the words that you don’t want to appear in the search results. For example, if you want to find a variety of recipes excluding vegan recipes, you would type: 

recipes -vegan

Remember that this command is not limited to a single exclusion. You can add more exclusions in order to filter down to the most specific list. One of the biggest benefits of this operator Google search command is that you can exclude other meanings if a certain search term means more than one thing. You can also use it to eliminate branded search results. 

  • *

An asterisk (*) acts as a wildcard and will match any word helping you to get a broader range of matches. Placing this operator between generates variations of all phrases, making it valuable for locating different phrases and quotes. 

The * has various practical operations, especially in technical audits or when maintaining your domain. However, its effectiveness requires the integration of multiple commands. Simply add the * wildcard operator in front of the site: command and exclude -www results. So, if you are searching for products, you can write:

site:best * for home

  • #..#

Use this search operator with numbers on either side to match any integer in that range of numbers. For example, you can write Android mobile apps 2021-2023 to get the results of the apps launched between the two years.

  • @

If you want to restrict your search to social media, you can use the @ search command. This operator is most useful when you are searching for the official channels of a company. Alternatively, you can use the # symbol to search within hashtags on Google.

  • $

Use this operator search when you need to find exact prices in dollars. You can combine ($) and (.) to find prices like $20.10.

You can use this symbol to search for prices in euros. For example, you can type €5.99 lunch deals to find specific search results. 

  • in

Use the “in” search operator to convert between two equivalent units. You can get special, knowledge card-style results. For instance, you can search for 100 kg to lbs to get accurate results. 

  • site:

When you need specific results from a single website, use the “site:” command. For instance, if you want to search within specific websites such as Wikipedia or YouTube, excluding others, you can use respectively-

site:youtube.com or site:wikipedia.org 

One of the most prevalent uses of this company is to ascertain the number of pages indexed by Google for a specific domain. 

  • cache

By using the “cache:” operator, you can locate the most recent cached version of a specific web page. This operator is most useful if you have recently updated your content or design. Use this Google search operator to identify if and when Google crawled the new changes. You can type:

cache:wikipedia.org

  1. Advanced Search Operators

The advanced search operators are special commands that modify searches. These may also require additional parameters and are typically known to narrow the search results and dig deeper into the results. 

  • source:

With the “source:” command you can search for specific sources for a given topic in Google News. Although this Google search operator is limited to Google News, if you are looking for article sources or potential link partners for similar topics, then this command can provide you with valuable results. You can write:

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“SEO updates” source:searchengineland.com

  • info:

The “info” search operator helps you find information related to a specific domain that you are searching for. By using this command, you can identify things like pages within the domain text on-page (not necessarily linked), similar on-site pages, as well as the website’s cache. You can type:

info:domainname.com

  • intitle:

The “intitle:” search operator helps you find specific words or phrases in its web address. For example, when you use this command, it returns over 27 million results that include at least one of the terms in the page title. This is essentially useful for finding guest posting opportunities and assessing keyword competitiveness based on the number of results for a particular word. So, if you are looking for HD cameras to take quality pictures, you can type:

intitle:HD cameras for photography

  • allintitle:

The “allintitle:” command further refines the results to include all the words you are searching for on the page’s title. You can easily find blogs that match the content you are writing or research what others are doing for that particular topic. This can help you compare the different results and make your content of higher quality. If you are looking for HD cameras for landscape photography, you can write:

allintitle:HD cameras for landscape photography

  • inurl:

By using the inurl search command, you can get targeted results for specific search phrases. So, if you are looking to find a web page with a specific word or phrase in the web address, this command can bring fruitful results. This command is very useful in the following instances-

  • Identifying Blog Tag Pages: Use inurl:tag to find indexed blog tag pages.
  • Finding Content Ideas: Look for inspiration across topics you are researching, like inurl:recepies
  • Discovering Guest Posting Opportunities: Use inurl:guest-post to identify guest posting options
  • allinurl:

This is an advanced search operator which refines the “inurl:” command searches. The “allinurl:” shows results that include all the defined words in the web address. For example, if you want to include both healthy and recipes in the URL, then you can write:

allinurl:healthy recipes 

  • intext:

When you use the “intext:” search operator, you can find whether all the terms you are looking for show up in the text of the page. This command is frequently used for discovering link-building opportunities. For example, more than 522,000,000 pages contain the terms “sponsored” or “post.” Or, if you want to find pages that mention coding within their content, you can use:

intext:coding

  • allintext:

The “allintext:” operator refines your search to only pages that include all the terms that you are searching for in the text of the page. To specify the search for pages that include both Python and coding in their content, you can use:

allintext:Python coding 

  • filetype:

Use the Google search filetype command to find specific types of files. You can use this command to narrow down the search options and get refined search results. Utilize this command to get specific file types including PDF, DOC, JPG, PNG, XLS, PPT, TXT, and more. 

For example, if you want search for balance sheets in the Excel format, you can search this:

Balance sheet filetype:XLS 

  • related:

The “related:” command is a search operator that helps you discover websites related to the one you specify in your search. It is most effective for larger domains like wikipdia.org or nytimes.com. 

You can use this command to gain insights into how Google categorizes your site and its competitors. This provides highly valuable for competitive analysis, providing a clear understanding of your digital competitors, which may differ significantly from your offline competitors. Suppose you want to find websites related to nationalgeographic.com. You would have to enter the following:

related:nationalgeographic.com

  • around(X):

The “around(X):” command considers word proximity, limiting results to pages that search words within “X” words of each other. Although this command is not frequently used, it is helpful when looking for quotes and references that you cannot recall. So, if you are looking for pages where science appears close to technology within 5 words, you can write:

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around(5):science technology

  • inposttitle:

This search command is useful if you are searching for specific blog topics. You can use the “inposttitle:” to perform blog research with certain search terms in the blog title. For example, of you are searching for blogs on app store optimization, you can use:

inposttitle:app store optimization

  1. Unreliable/Deprecated Operators

Unreliable operators are the ones that have been found to produce inconsistent results or have been deprecated altogether. Although “inanchor” common is still in use, it is used very rarely and sometimes produces inconsistent results. 

  • +

The “+” command was used to get exact matches on a single phrase. Due to unreliable results, this search operator was deprecated with the launch of Google+.

  • ~

This search command was used to include synonyms in your search. The usage of this “~” is not required anymore as Google includes synonyms in all search results by default.

  • daterange:

The “daterange:” advanced search operator exhibits search results within a specific date range. It uses the Julian date format, where the year is followed by the number of days since the beginning of the year. Because of this unusual date format, you can make many errors. To avoid this, it is recommended you ensure the correct date format by using an online converter. 

This command proves beneficial for assessing the amount of content published on a particular period during a defined period. Its usage has significantly lessened due to the inconsistent results. 

  • link:

The “link:” operator was used to find pages that link to a target domain search. This operator was deprecated in early 2017.

  • inanchor:

The “inanchor:” search operator is used to identifying pages with inbound links that contain the anchor text specified. However, global accuracy cannot be guaranteed since data is only sampled. However, this command is useful when evaluating link-building opportunities or performing competitive link audits. 

  • allinanchor:

The “allinanchor:” command helps you to find pages with all individual terms after “inanchor:” in the inbound anchor text.

Effective Tips and Tricks to Use Google Search Operators

Now that you know how to use the Google search codes, combine them to make the most of these operators. 

  • Connect Different Operators 

You can string together a wide range of text searches, basic, as well as advanced operators. For instance, 

“Marie Curie: intitle:”interesting facts..history” -site:youtube.com inurl:2022

This search can help you fetch the pages mentioning “Marie Curie” (exact match), with the title containing the phrase “interesting facts about history,” excluding those from YouTube.com, and featuring “2022” in the URL.

  • Identify Plagiarized Content

You can easily determine the uniqueness of your content or identify potential plagiarism. Utilize a distinct phrase from your text, enclose it in quotes (exact match) following the “intext:” operator, and exclude your site with “-site:.”  For example,

Intext:“If you are going through hell, keep going.” -site:wikipedia.org

Similarly, you can use “intitle:” with a lengthy, exact-match phrase to pinpoint duplicate copies of your content. 

  • Audit Your HTTP->HTTPS Transition

The transition from HTTP to HTTPS can be complex. You need to verify the progress by examining the number of indexed pages for each type. Employ the “site:” operator on your root domain and then exclude HTTPS pages with “inrul:.” For example, 

Site:wikipedia.org -inurl:https

This approach helps identify any lingering HTTP pages or locate ones that might not have undergone re-crawling by Google. 

Conclusion

Thus, the possibilities of utilizing the Google search operators are infinite. You can use the different search operators and combine them to refine and narrow down your search results. Check our Google operator checklist and use it to get the best and most important information to help beat your competitors in the search results.