Advanced Google Search Commands
Google does a great job of determining what you’re searching for and delivering relevant results–whether it’s just text results or blended results. Every year, Google continues to improve its search result quality. Despite this, there are times where you might want more control to manually tell Google to search for something specific rather than relying on Google’s own search detection capabilities. One popular way of doing this is to use advanced Google search commands in the form of Google Search Operators.
This post will teach you:
- What Google Search Operators are;
- The advantages to using search operators; and
- How to effectively use them.
What is a Google Search Operator?
A search operator allows you to narrow down a set of search results by providing extra parameters and information into your search string or query. There are many different search parameters and many of these are useful for a number of SEO tasks. Some parameters can be combined to narrow down search results even more.
Search operators vary by search engine but there are a number of common parameters. The results that are returned heavily depend on the extent to which a site in question has been crawled and indexed by the search engines. A search operator simply narrows down what is in the index of a search engine. If a particular page doesn’t belong to the index of a search engine, a search parameter will not find it.
The Importance of Search Operators in SEO
As mentioned, search operators help narrow a set of search results to fit one or more select parameters or filters. This can make Internet research much easier for search engine users. From an SEO perspective, search operators can save you a lot of time and give you additional data about how the search engines have indexed a website.
Here are several ways SEOs use advanced Google search commands:
- Technical Website Analysis – Determining how many web pages are indexed, finding URLs with strange parameters, finding pages of a website that use a specific keyword or phrase, and/or finding duplicate versions of a website.
- Back Link Prospecting – Finding targeted website prospects to get links from, for example websites that look for content contributors (i.e. guest posts).
- Content Research – Locating a specific content type or file; they could be PDF files, flash files (SWF), image files, Excel files (XLS) or more.
Examples of Popular Search Operators
Here are a few examples of useful search operators that SEOs use on a regular basis.
>Finding an approximate number of pages indexed on a given domain, type the following in the Google search bar:
The “site:” operator asks the search engine to only show pages from the domain that follows, in this case – pages from ereachconsulting.com.
>Finding blog guest post opportunities for link building. Type the following in Google:
- [your key phrase] blogs inurl:guest-post
The “inurl:” operator asks the search engine to only show pages whose address (“URL”) contains the words or symbols that follow, in this case “guest-post”. In other words, the entire search command will return results for your original search, “[your key phrase] blogs” showing only URLs that contain the words “guest-post.” If Google returns results, it’s highly likely that these websites accept guest posting.
There are many more search operators that you can use, for a more comprehensive list of them try this list: http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html
Combining Google Search Operators
Some search operators can be combined to narrow search results even further. The two examples above “site:” and “inurl:” can be combined to form:
This restricts results to those with “google-search-operators” in the URL only from the eReach Consulting website.
Bing & Yahoo Search Operators
It is important not to ignore search operators on other search engines, too. You most likely will be spending most of your time on Google, but there are search operators on Bing and Yahoo that are useful, such as:
Bing & Yahoo Specific Operators
There are two operators that Bing and Yahoo use that can be very helpful for SEOs.
1. “linkfromdomain:” operator
This operator will show you the websites that are being linked to from the website domain that is entered. Here is an example:
The results that are returned list the domains that ereachconsulting.com link out to from within its pages and posts. This can be very useful for link building. If you’re looking to get a link from a site, you can see who else a particular website is already linking to and investigate why.
2. Websites Hosted on the Same IP
Bing and Yahoo allow you to check which websites are hosted on the same IP address using the “ip:” search operator:
The list that is returned will be domains that are hosted on the same IP address.
For a complete list of Bing and Yahoo Search Operators, visit: http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/bing/ff808421.aspx
There are many ways to become a more effective Internet researcher by using search engines more effectively. Advanced search engine commands will help you find better, more relevant information faster. In the SEO world, search operators are used on a daily basis and it’s important to learn what they are, how they are used, and to put them in action regularly.