Google search is an excellent tool by itself. Google search can be used to find any topic, but did you also know that it can be used to deliver specific results?
Advanced Google search operators are essential if you want to improve your search engine marketing efforts. The right search operator will make your Google searches more efficient and precise than ever.
Advanced Google search operators can provide powerful insights that will help you inform your SEO audits, content strategy and keyword research.
This guide will cover all the major advanced Google search operators, so you can understand how to use them to your advantage.
What are Google search operators?
Google search operators are special characters and commands that allow you to extend the search capabilities of standard text searches.
Enter a search operator in the Google search box (in the same way you would for a text search).
Make your results more specific
Advanced Google search operators will return more precise results. Let’s suppose you search “SEO” on Google right now. There will be more than 730,000,000 results!
You can reduce the number of results by using the
allintitle search operator, which is one the advanced Google search options we’ll tell you about below. This will ensure that you only see results with “SEO” in the page title.
Advanced Google search operators can take your business to the next level
Search operators make it possible to:
- Find content and backlinks.
- Search for SEO issues such as glaring errors in indexation.
- Use statistics and research to improve your content.
- It is possible to accurately gauge the competitiveness of long-tail keywords.
Follow these search operator rules
When refining web search results, there are two important rules to remember:
- Google will often ignore punctuation if it is not part the search operator.
Spaces between your symbol or word command (or your search term) should be avoided. For example,
site:movingtrafficmedia.comwill work, however,
site: movingtrafficmedia.comwill not work.
The most advanced Google search operators
Google search operators make it so much easier to search online for things. These commands will make it so much easier to search online for things than you ever thought possible.
This operator, as you may have guessed allows you to search content hosted on a specific domain.
site.wikipedia.org are the best options if you’re looking for specific websites such as YouTube or Wikipedia.
site: Command use case
This command can be used in many ways. The most common use case is to determine how many pages Google has indexed on a domain.
The cache operator allows you to find the most recent cached version a particular web page.
cache: Command use case
This command will tell you if Google crawled your changes if you have made recent content updates or design changes.
This search operator can be used to find websites related to the site you are looking for. This search operator is not effective for large domains such as
searchengineland.com, as shown in the image.
Related: Command use case
For a clear look at how Google categorizes you site and your competition, use the
This information is extremely valuable when you want to analyze your digital competitors – which may be very different from your offline competitors.
This advanced Google search operator can be used to locate pages that contain inbound links with the anchor text specified.
In the above example, any pages with anchor text that contains the words “jon” or “clark” will be displayed in the 1,370,000 results.
Note: Data is only collected and cannot be expected to give you accurate global results.
inanchor command use case
This command is useful when evaluating link building opportunities and competitive link audits.
This operator builds upon the
anchor: command above, but it makes sense when you need to search for pages that contain all the words in the inbound text.
You can see that the returned results for pages containing anchor text that includes both “jon”, and “clark”, have dropped to 991,000.
inurl is the Google search engine to use if you want to find a page that contains a specific word or words in the URL.
inurl : Command use case
This search command is extremely useful for:
Diagnosing indexing problems (
inurl_tagto identify indexed tag pages
- Inspiration for content on topics you are interested in.
Identifying guest posting opportunities (
This advanced Google search operator will refine the
INURL: command to return only results that include all the defined words in URL.
This operator allows you find results that are more relevant to certain search terms or phrases. The image above shows more than 272,000 results that include at least one term in the page title.
intitle Command use case
This search function is great for finding guest posting opportunities. It also allows you to check the level of competition for keywords based upon the number of results for a word.
Similar to the variables above, the
allintitle command further refines the results to include all words in the page title.
The results that include all the words “write to us” have been refined from 27,200,000 up to 163,000.
Are you looking for a particular word or phrase in the content? The
text: operator allows you to find terms in any part of a website’s page, from the page title up to the content.
intext command use case
This command is my favorite for finding link building opportunities. As you can see, there are more 522,000,000 pages containing the terms “sponsored” and “post .
These results will be further refined by the next advanced search operator.
This operator allows you to narrow your search to only pages that contain all terms you are looking for in the text.
Modifying the operator’s text: to
allintext removes nearly 200,000,000 results.
Note This operator does NOT account for the location of words on a page. It only accounts for their appearance on the page. The words may not be in the same sentence or in a phrase.
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Please refer to the terms.
aroundX command will account to word proximity by limiting your search results to pages that contain the searched words within a range of ‘X’ words. The number in the parentheses denotes the maximum distance or gap between words.
around (x): Command use case
Although this command is not one I use often, it can be useful when you need to look up sentences, quotes, or other references that you don’t remember.
The filetype is used in conjunction with a keyword to limit the number of returned results to specific file types that contain the keyword. These file types include:
- KML, KMZ
- XLS, and XLSX
- PPT, PPTX
- DOC, DOCX
- C, CC. CPP. CXX. H, HPP
- WML, WAP
Note Using the ext will return the exact same results.
command use case
This search operator is my favorite.
First, for content writers, this site command is extremely powerful to improve “information gain”. This should be discussed more in light the helpful content update.
This tip is a hat tip to Steve Toth, SEONotebook email newsletter. This is how he explained it:
It’s crucial to first understand Google’s information gain patent.
Information gain scores indicate how much more information a source can bring to a person than other sources on the same topic. Pages with higher information gains scores may be ranked higher that pages with lower scores.
Here’s what Google has to say about it in its patent:
“…When a group of documents are identified that share a subject, many of them may contain similar information.”
Let’s say that there are 10 pages on Page 1, all about “how to retire early”, and all 10 articles on Page one share the same tips. Google has a problem here as users don’t want 10 blogs about the exact same topic. Google continues to state:
“The implementations described herein concern the determination of an information gain score for one, or more documents of potential user interest and the presentation of information from one or more of those selected documents based on their respective information gains scores.”
These are three ways that we can source information and insight beyond the Page 1 results everyone else is using to create their content.
We can source information hidden within Word docs, Powerpoints and PDFs to uncover new information that Page 1 doesn’t mention.
Look through the results to find topics or ideas that are missing from the article.
The screenshot above may have left you feeling a little confused.
daterange advanced search operator displays search results within a specified number of dates. It uses the Julian date format, which requires the year followed with the number of days since its beginning.
Online converters are a great way to make sure you don’t make mistakes and get the date format exactly right.
daterange: Command use case
This can be used to determine the number of articles published on a particular topic over a given period. In the screenshot above, you can see that there were 221,000 pieces published on the helpful content updates between September 1, 2022 and September 21, 2022.
This is one of the search engines you’ve probably used a few time without knowing its full capabilities.
You can combine searches by adding the capitalized
or to your search terms (
keyword1 HTML2). Google will show results that satisfy the first or second search term.
) operator will provide identical results.
OR: Command use case
This is especially useful when you are researching on multiple items, but not necessarily looking to find references to them all.
You can limit the search results to the exact match phrase by using quotes in a Google search.
Google will return any webpage that contains the phrase in its title, body copy, or description.
Use as the “keyword” command
"" search modifier can be used to refine the results for a query. It is one of the most efficient ways to locate duplicate content.
You can copy a paragraph from your online content and paste it with quotation marks to find out if someone has copied your work.
Copyscape is one of the many ways you can check if someone has stolen your work. This is a quick way to get to the root cause of the problem.
If you need to exclude a specific search term/topic from your results, the minus sign (
-_) is a simple tool that you can use.
The above example will return results that are related to SEO, but not PPC.
Pro tip This command does not limit itself to one exclusion. To filter down to the most precise results, add additional exclusions.
-keyword use case
This is useful if you are looking for something with more than one meaning and want to exclude the others.
It can also be used to remove branded search results.
Searching for a specific result on social media? Add the
@ modifier at the beginning of your query to return results that are social media-specific.
Note: This search refinement is still available on Google, but it does not always work.
@ Command Use Case
This is especially useful when you are trying to find the official channels for a company or organization.
source command allows you to search specific sources on a topic in Google News.
source command use case
This command is only available for Google News. However, it can be very useful if you’re looking for article sources and potential link partners who have written on a similar topic.
You can use the asterisk (
*) wildcard operator to get more matches.
The wildcard can be placed between terms to bring up all possible variations of the phrase. This is useful for finding phrases and quotes.
* Command Use Case
Similar to the previous example, this can be very helpful in technical audits and maintenance of your domain. It requires the combination of several commands (more details below).
Simply add the
* wildcard operator to the
site:command, and then exclude any
or -www results.
Combining search operators: Use cases
Google search operators are great because they can be combined to serve specific purposes.
There are many options available, and you can combine any of the advanced Google search engines we have already mentioned.
This allows you to locate any type of official documentation, original images, or source of a quote quickly and easily.
Google search refinements are very common in link building opportunities or uncovering how your competitors are acquiring them.
As you can see, if your roofing company is one of the potential targets, you now have 3,500+ potential customers that you know will accept sponsored content.
There are a few command combinations that will give similar results.
[topic] sponsored AROUND(3) after
[topic] intitle:"sponsored post
Are you not looking for sponsored posts Don’t worry. These Google search operators are worth a shot:
HTML3_ HTML4_ HTML5_ HTML3_ HTML5_ HTML6_ HTML7_ HTML8_ HTML9_ HTML3_ HTML5_ HTML6_ HTML7_ HTML8_ HTML5_ HTML6_ HTML7_ HTML8_ HTML9_ HTML5_ HTML7_ HTML6_ HTML8_ HTML9_ HTML9_ HTML8_ HTML5_ HTML8_ HTML9_ HTML9_ HTML3_
- [topic] inurl “write-for-us”, intitle: “write for us”
Are you still having trouble finding solid outreach targets? These are some variations to consider:
"become a contributor
- " guest posting guidelines
Informationgraphic submission opportunities
Infographics are a great visual asset to use on your website. But, creating them is only half the job. The next step is to ensure that they are distributed effectively.
This advanced Google search operator may allow you to find websites that might be interested in the infographic you've created.
Find social profiles to reach out
You've now created a solid list by using the search engines above.
What happens if their contact information isn't on the site?
This is the best operator to contact a specific person via social media. It is also very effective if you want to find contact information of someone.
Find indexation issues
We discussed subdomains that might have been accidentally indexed using the
website: and wildcard (
*) commands above.
Similar to the screenshot, another useful tactic to use is the
site,, exclusion (
inurl commands for discovering non-secure URLs floating around Google's index.
If you are working on sites that have a blog, the combination of
URL: commands is invaluable in diagnosing common indexing issues using tag pages.
To see the
site address of yoursite.com inurl, just type the following command string into Google
Join social conversations
This advanced Google Search operator is great to use if your goal is to find relevant forums and communities discussion topics.
Quora and other Q&A websites are great for content promotion.
It is easy to find questions in your niche and related discussions. Participating in online discussions is a great way to build your online presence.
Here are some of the best options:
[topic] site:quora.com intitle:topic
[topic] site:reddit.com intitle:topic
[topic] site:reddit.com | site:quora.com
[topic] site:reddit.com | site:quora.com inurl:topic intitle:topic
Find internal linking opportunities
I use search commands almost every day to find internal linking opportunities.
These concepts are easy to grasp.
Avoid duplicate topics. The below command will tell you how many pages are similar to yours.
If you see a headline similar to yours, it might be worth revisiting the older post or searching for an alternative topic.
Search for existing references. Adding internal links to your content (where it makes sense), is a smart SEO strategy. Use the below command to search for the main topics and add links to the pages.
In the above example, I see six possible internal links that could be added to this post.
Add links to your new article. This will help you to index your post and transfer authority.
site:yoursite.com intext:topic -site:yoursite.com/your-published-url
Google Drive Docs
This is a sneaky one, but it is important to ensure that you don't have any personal information stored in a Google Doc.
Google docs (documents and spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) are all available at docs.google.com.
We can filter down indexed Google Docs using the
site.docs.google.com "Your brand name
site.docs.google.com "Your competitors brand name
Are you looking for a particular type of document?
Give it a shot. You might be very surprised at what you find.
Making the most of advanced Google Search Operators
As you can see there are many advanced Google search operators that you can make the most of.
Search operators can assist you in many ways, from technical SEO audits to content analysis, to improve your online marketing efforts.
Search Engine Land's post 19 advanced Google search operators that you should know appeared first on Search Engine Land.