Become an Expert Google Searcher

How to become an expert when it comes to Google searching

Are you aware that there are operator codes that you could be using?

Are you aware that there are operator codes that you could be using? These operator codes filter out search engine result pages that are not relevant to what you’re trying to target. Years ago, when using search engines, these were how marketers found their competitors and were able to “spy” on their efforts. These search tools can help you find valuable information without paying for an expensive platform to give you certain data metrics. This piece will review some of the different ways you can cut through thousands of pages in search engines simply by knowing what site operators to use to find the specific information you need.

Cutting through the Clutter

Site operators are critical in searches because without refining your searches, search engines might give you results of millions of pages. Also, because search engines can’t read your mind (well, not yet), the results given to you need to be based on the information you asked from it. The more clearly you can input this information, the better your search results will be.

  • Exact Phrases – Using quotation marks around any word will filter out all other words. Many SEO professionals refer to this as an exact match search. Quotation marks are very helpful to limit the amount of search engine results that appear. To do an exact phrase search, you will need to include the search term(s) within quotation marks.
    • EXAMPLE – “sneakers”
  • Site:Very widely known in the SEO community, site: shows you all URLs that are indexing in a search engine for a particular domain. Results will appear in the order in which Google ranks these pages. To make a site: inquiry, you will need to include the site name.
    • EXAMPLE – site:www.nike.com
    • For the above example, the first result on the SERP is the main domain, www.nike.com. The second result is their second most popular URL in Chile, https://www.nike.com/cl/. Each subsequent result is the next ranked page containing “www.nike.com” as the beginning of the URL. 
  • Filetype: – Results can be restricted by the file type extension, including PDFs, DOCs, XLSs, and PPTs. Most SEO specialists should know that these file types will index, but search engines can’t read the content. It’s hard to create an SEO strategy for the above-listed types of files. When you search, if you would like to exclude website pages that are a specific file type, you need to include the type of file and the search term(s) in your search.
    • EXAMPLE – filetype:pdf sneaker
  • Intitle: and allintitle: – Words that appear in the title tags are referred to as an intitle:. If you have multiple words you want to see in the title tag, you will use the command allintitle:.To find intitle: words, you need to include the search term(s).
    • EXAMPLE – intitle:sneakers
  • Inurl: and allinurl: – Words that appear in the URL can be found with inurl: and allinurl:.Similar to intitle:, if there are multiple words in the URL, you will use the command allinurl:. To find an inurl:, you need to include the search term(s).
    • EXAMPLE – inurl:sneakers
  • Datarange: – This gives search result pages that have been added/updated on a certain date. To find this, you need to include the date.
    • EXAMPLE – datarange:YYYY-MM-DD
  • Define: – This is one that I don’t believe many SEO professionals use to their advantage. However, in addition to providing the definition of your search, this tool gives you search engine result pages that are asking questions for a particular topic. If you look at the People Also Ask section on the page, you will notice other related questions that other websites are answering.  It is very helpful because it allows an SEO specialist to answer important questions about their brand by comparing what search results your competitors are targeting. To use define:, you need to include the search term(s).
    • EXAMPLE – define:sneakers
  • Compare – Compares two types of queries and produces results from the mentioning of those two keywords. To use the compare operator, you need to include at least two search term(s) with “and” in between the terms, and remember not to use a colon.
    • EXAMPLE – compare sneakers and sandals
  • Combining multiple site operators – You can combine multiple site operators within one search query, which might seem advanced or complex, but is very simple to do.
    • EXAMPLE – “Subway” intitle:sandwiches
    • For the above example, we’re trying to find an exact match (quotes) for the branding keyword. Because a subway is also known as a mode of transportation, intitle: was added. This intitle informs Google to include sandwiches, and only food-related results are shown.

Casting a Wider Net

Search engines can accidentally exclude things you may have mentioned. In such circumstances, when you want to broaden your search instead of refining it, you can use site operators to widen your search engine result pages.

  • Asterisk – Using the * symbols in search engines will give you multiple search engine result pages that may be using other words to connect its meaning. If trying to look for an exact match but wanting to see how other websites were writing their title tags, the search may look like this:
    • “sneakers * shoes”
    • The above example cuts through the clutter by using an exact match with the quotation marks but using the asterisk to cast a wider net on all different terms, including sneakers and shoes.
  • Related:Using :Related gives you an assortment of different indexed pages related to your query and can be an excellent way to find backlinks, words mentioned in social media, and words that your competitors are using. To find a related:, you need to include the search term(s)..
    • EXAMPLE – related:sneakers
  • ORThe OR command allows search engines to combine the query and show keywords with either of the two keywords in their result pages. To do a combined search, you need to include at least two search terms with OR separating them.
    • EXAMPLE – sneakers or sandals

Mastering the Google Interface

Many SEO professionals don’t use search engines to their fullest advantage. There are elements at the top of all search engines where you can filter out most results based on what you intend to see. The best part? You can also use site operators for all of these sections, just like you do for a normal search. All results are presented in the order in which Google ranks them.

  • All – This gives you all search results, starting with paid ads at the top of the results page, then going to the organic search results in the order in which Google ranks them.
  • Videos – Shows all videos indexed in the SERPs.
  • News – Here, a searcher can find all news results, which can be an excellent place to start to look for backlinking, especially when it comes to PR articles and newsrooms. 
  • ShoppingFor searches of items that can be bought, they would appear in this section if there are purchasing options.
  • ImagesJust as it is named, this section provides images, vector, png, jpeg, and other formats and is used frequently. The images section tells you that Google is indexing your pages for your website. It’s also an excellent way to spy on your competitors because you can search for them by a logo, then you can position yourself to find websites that are doing a better job in organic than you are.
  • Maps – The Maps section shows search responses in Google Maps. This is probably the favorite part of many SEO professionals, as this section allows you to audit Google My Business/Google Map Pinpoints and filter them using site operators. All of the above-listed site operators can be used here, thus making this section incredibly valuable to any type of marketer.
  • More – This section will filter depending on what the search was for. It could include such categories as Books, Flights, Finance, or other related search categories.