What Are Google Search Operators
Google search operators are an amazingly useful way allowing you to query Google more specifically to look for certain keywords within different locations of a site or page. They cover much more than I have listed here, but these are the ones most commonly used for SEO purposes.
Each performs a different query with Google to help you find what you’re looking for. They are generally used by SEO consultants, SEO agencies, or indeed anyone who wishes to gather even more information from a search.
Using Google Search Operators For SEO
Using Google search operators is really quite straightforward and once you get to grips with them, you will find yourself using them more and more. For SEO, they make a great way to narrow down a search and even find opportunities that might have been missed when performing a standard search. Perfect if you are performing outreach for link building or looking for writing opportunities.
- guest post + intitle:”solicitor”
This shows the following as the first result:
However, you can’t always guarantee that you will get a result, so there needs to be a bit of trial and error sometimes. In this case, you will get more by using the following:
- guest post + intext:”solicitor”
The difference is here is to use ‘intext’ rather than ‘intitle’. Sometimes it is just trying a few until you get the desired results.
Without further ado, here are the lists. If you feel there are any missing, please leave a comment below and I will get it added.
General Google Search Operators
[table id=3 /]
Location-Based Google Search Operators
- directory + intitle:“Chester”
[table id=5 /]
Keyword Location-Based Google Search Operators
- business news + intitle:“Chester”
[table id=6 /]
Combining Google Search Operators: Advanced Use
Advanced use of search operators is often underused but can save a lot of time rather than performing the same tasks over and over again.
Let’s try one to see how it works:
- business news + intitle:“Chester”
- business news + intitle:“Cheshire”
- business news + intitle:“Cheshire West”
You could combine all 3 of those to perform the same task, like this:
- business news + intitle:(Chester | Cheshire | “Cheshire West”)
This is exactly the same and will give you the same results in one search rather than doing this 3 times.
You can do the same with inurl and intext as well:
- business news +inurl:(Chester | Cheshire)
- site:cheshire.media intext:”chester” (use this if searching a site for a word or phrase)
Want to search for the same word on multiple sites?
- site:(cheshire.media | insidermedia.com) intext:”Chester”
You can get really creative with using search operators for SEO, so why not have a test and see what you can find.
Other Useful Google Search Operators
There are a lot more search operators than you might realise, and uses for them, so below are some that you may or may not have used before.
Removing keywords from a search
Simply add a minus sign to the operator and remove keywords you wish to exclude.
- SEO Marketing -infographic
Tip: Add quotes if there is more than 1 keyword.
- SEO Marketing – “marketing infographic”
Use a Pipe for an OR search
When combining search operators, a pipe ( | ) is the same as using an OR
- SEO marketing iqseo | ahrefs | moz | semrush
Ensure words are included
Simply adding a + will ensure that that word is included. Combine this to ensure multiples are used.
- SEO Marketing +linkbuilding | +strategy
Synonym Search Operators
This isn’t used much but can be great to find related topics – add a tilde ( ~ ) before the word.
- seo ~great
This will show words like ‘good’, ‘excellent’, ‘amazing’, ‘best’.
Finding .txt Files
This one is a bit different and originally the idea came from MOZ.
If you want to search a site for text files that aren’t the robots.txt, then you would do the following:
- site:iqseo.org filetype:txt -inurl:robots.txt
The idea being that text files can cause site bloat, but sometimes sensitive information, so personally I would see this as more of a security check.
Want to check and see what sort of text files are lying around other sites?
- site:*.com | *.org | *.co.uk filetype:txt -inurl:robots.txt
As above, but just change the filetype to PDF, like this:
- site:*.com | *.org | *.co.uk filetype:pdf
Most will want to search for a PDF relating to a topic, so simply do this:
- site:*.com | *.org | *.co.uk “SEO strategy” filetype:pdf
Check for non-secure pages on a website
This shows the versatility of a Google search operator – check to see if there are any pages on a site that are not secured via https:
- site:amazon.com -inurl:https
And yes, this does find over 350,000 unsecured pages on Amazon!