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Google Search Operator

SEO Research – Easy Smart Searches Using Google Operators

Searching is a lot more complex than typing a word and shifting through results.  Using Google Search Operators, predefined instructions that focus the results anyone can gain insights into Google’s thoughts.

SEO Research: Getting To What Google Really Knows

SEO Research often begins and ends with one randomly found site’s auto audit. There are hundreds of sites that will tell you the character count of this field and that.  These are all good and well but they aren’t intelligent and offer a glimpse of how that tool sees your site, not Google.  In the end do you want to get an A grade by a random SEO tool or do you want to rank higher on Google?  These are not the same goals often.

Using Google Search Operators you can extract a focused image of your site.  Here’s a fast example, how many pages has Google indexed from your site?  You may have 100 blog posts but thats not the answer here.  You can setup and use Google Search Console, and you should, but a quick way to answer this in the moment is:

site: ultimateseo.org

Site: Google Search Operator

Above we can easily see that Google has indexed 2,650 pages of ultimateseo.org.  Thats great, its a broad selection of pages that Google has to chose from to match with search queries.  Using site: allows you to search just that site.

SEO Strategy – How To Use Google

Googles a search engine as we already know.  It indexes and tries to make sense of your site’s content.  Having an orderly site helps Google do this but even without that order Google has a lot to offer you in data and knowledge about your site, it’s ranking and competitors.

Google Search Operators

“keyword or phrase” – this searches for only the exact match.  So this would return all pages with keyword or phrase on it.  Note the or is not OR so its part of the phrase.

-“keyword” – this removes pages with that keyword

site: – searches just that site.

inurl: – searches the url for a term

* – is a wildcard

intitle: keyword – searches in the page meta title.

Intext:keyword – searches the page text for the keyword

Link:keyword – pages with a link using a keyword in the anchor text.

allinanchor: – allows you to find pages with the term in the inbound anchor text.

daterange: – shows pages added during a date range

loc: – results in a location

Related:domain.com – note the R is capitalized.  These are pages that are similar to the domain homepage.

OR – Searches both terms independently

(keyword OR keyword2) – Parentheses groups search criteria and prioritizes it when added with additional criteria.

filetype: – searches files, not just html text.

Combining Search Operators

The real fun begins when we begin to combine multiple operators to build more complex searches.

site:urlofpost intext:”keyword”

site:domain.com -site:domain.net keyword – searches all pages on one domain thats a .com that are not on another that is a .net domain.  Now you’d think the search site:ultimateseo.org keyword was the same as site:ultimateseo.org -site:ultimateseo.net  keyword but its not.  The results are 1,460 vs 1,580 respectively.

(keyword OR keyword -site:domain.com) keyword – shows one or another keyword not counting a site that is with another keyword.

ie (Matthew Leffler OR Matt Leffler -site:ultimateseo.org) SEO

Another useful search thats great for figuring out your SERP for a keyword is to see what pages on your site are associated with that keyword.  The first result is likely your best match, if that is not the intended page for the keyword, you need to work to be more obvious with Google.

ie site:ultimateseo.org seo tools

You can help Google pick the one you want through internal linking on your site using that anchor text.

Google Operator Examples

Example searches we can run include:

  • -site:ultimateseo.* inurl:leffler – will show every site without ultimateseo in the domain that includes the keyword Leffler within the page url.
  • inurl:submit “free guest post” – Pages with the keyword “free guest post” and submit in the url.
  • site:.com “free guest post” inurl:submit – Pages on a .com domain that have the keyword “free guest post” and submit in the url

More Search Operators?

Have some search operators you love that I missed?  Feel free to comment them for anyone to see.

Matthew Leffler


Matthew Leffler is a freelance SEO on Upwork.com and SEOClerks.com with 20 years of technical experience and a technical education background. In those years of experience he's worked in several technical roles in informtation technology and software training. Matt has worked at Hewlett-Packard and Gateway Computers. Matthew earned his BSIT, MBA in Technology Management and MEd in Instructional Design. He holds over a dozen active technical certifications including A+, Netowrk+, Security+, Project+, is a Certified Webmaster Professional, and a HDI Help Desk Analyst.

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