Most freelancers heavily rely on Google to search for information online.
But, only very few know how to make the most of it.
They search and keep searching, only to get lots unrelated results. It’s like searching for a needle in a hay stack.
It’s annoying, right?
And, like most people, you most probably have also searched on Google. But, do you use it to its full potential?
Google’s search prowess spreads far and wide. You could do more with it than just inputting a few terms on the search bar.
Enter search operators.
So, what are search operators?
Search operators are commands and characters that help you filter and refine search engine results. They can narrow or expand the focus of your search.
Guess what? You’re now in charge of your search. No more irrelevant and unrelated results.
Sounds cool, right?
Then, Lets jump right in.
Below are the search operators. And, there’s tons of them. So, I’ve split them to three:
- Basic Operators
- Advanced Operators
Of course to get the best out of them, you’ve to learn how to use them. I’ll show you how:
1.Quotation marks [ “”]
When you put your keyword in quotes, the results you’ll get will be exact matches to your keyword. And, they’ll be in the exact same order as in the quotes as opposed to a normal search.
It can be helpful to find sites that are targeting your exact keyword.
Or even better, you can use it to force Google to search for the exact keyword you want without auto correcting your query.
For instance, when you search “blind colour”. You’ll get results for “blind colour” and not “blind color”.
2. Asterisk [ *]
Want to search for a term but don’t know part of it?
Don’t worry. The asterisk got you.
The asterisk search operator comes in handy. It is used as a place holder to search for wild card terms or unknown words.
For example, *in need is a friend*
3. Underscore [ _]
Well, this doesn’t work for traditional search. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the mention.
In fact, it’s a bit unique.
It can help you utilize Google auto suggest and obtain keywords. Just place _ between two keywords in the search bar and Google will suggest filler words.
4. Pipe Operator[ | ]
Basically, the pipe operator is similar to the OR function. It helps you to search for one or more times to match.
Hence, Google will look for the first or second word or both. For example content marketing strategy Vs Content marketing | strategy
5. Range Operator [ ..]
Here’s another simple but very useful command.
Looking for a specific range in your query? Look no further.
Just place two periods between the numbers in your query without spacing. And, also give a unit of measurement to specify the range e.g. 30..55 years old will gives you results within that range.
You can also use it as a suffix. For instance, when you search 30.. years old, the results will include numbers greater than 30.
These operators are general simple phrases that help you get refined results. Though used differently, they are better than symbols.
As mentioned earlier, it’s similar to the pipe operator. But, it is important to note that the OR has to be in caps for the command to be successful.
For example, Inbound OR Content marketing will give you results for either Inbound or Content marketing or both.
Site: is a command you can use to find search terms from a specific site only. So, all the results are confined to a particular site.
Its particularly useful when the site you’re searching doesn’t have an in-built search feature.
So, let’s say you’re searching for a term on a site like Copyblogger. And, want results only from copyblogger.
You can go to their site and start clicking their pages one by one which may take ages.
Or use the site: command and let Google do the hard work for you.
Related: is used to find sites similar to the domain you’re targeting. Actually, you use can find who else is doing what you’re doing.
You can use it to ‘steal’ your competitors ideas and enable you to standout from the crowd.
But, remember that only URLs and domains can be used. Not keywords.
For example, when you wanted to search a site related to Hubspot, just type related:hubspot.com
One of the best search operators I have come across. Hope you like it too.
This commands confines search results by type of file extension. It very useful when you only want to search for images, PPT, XML, pdf, doc e.t.c
For instance , If you looking for power points for content marketing, search Content marketing filetype:ppt, or Content marketing filetype:doc to look for word documents.
Just imagine, you need info from a site and find its not available or its down. Should you leave it at that?
No. Not anymore.
You can check what a page looked like last time Google visited. And, the page looks no different from when the site is live.
To check how Cnet.com looked search “cache:cnet.com”
These are a bit complicated for starters. But, with time you’ll master them and search Google like a pro.
1. allintitle:/ intitle:
Actually, these are two commands that basically do the same thing.
They search for that have the search terms you want in the title of the page.
So, here let’s see how the intitle: commands at work:
You’ll note that all results have your selected term in the title. But, only the first term in your word is modified.
That’s where the allintitle: command comes in. Let’s try again, this time with the allintitle: command.
All the terms in the selected keyword are in the title.
2. allintext:/ intext:
Unlike the previous operator, the allintext:/intext: operator refines the search to where your selected word or phrase is in the text.
So, what’s the difference between allintext: and intext: operators?
The allintext: operator returns results that include all the selected keywords but the intext: operator only returns results that includes the term immediately following the colon (: ) .
Still, the allintext: operator can only be used at the start of a query while the intext: operator can be used anywhere in the query.
3. AROUND ( )
It’s sounds like a range, right?
Yeah, sure it has something to do with a range but not entirely.
This search operator refines your search by allowing you to be specify keyword proximity. Simply, you can limit the number of words that appear between your selected keywords.
But, note that the AROUND () operator must be in CAPS. And, the number between the keywords sets the max distance between the two terms.
4. allinanchor:/ inanchor:
I know what you’re thinking. Let me guess.
This operator returns results with keywords in the anchor text.
It’s similar to the allin/in operators above. The allinchor: operator gives results that include all the keywords in your search term while the inanchor: refines results to only those that include the immediate term after the colon.
Search has just become easier, right?
Now, armed with these operators you won’t dread researching online anymore. In fact, you should start using them right away.
But, wait…there’s a catch. You may use these operators and still not narrow down to your desired results.
So, to get your desired results you’ll have to use command chains. Simply, this means you’ll have to use more than one operator in your query.
For, instance you can combine a symbol and other operators. You can also combine basic operators, advanced operators together. But, here are some rules you should keep in mind:
- You should not put spaces between the symbol or phrase and your search term. Example: site: com won’t work but site:huffpost.com will.
- The allin command should always come at the start of your query.
- Google will ignore any punctuation that isn’t part of a search operator.
What tricks do use to narrow your search results on Google? Please leave a comment below. I’ll be glad to reply.
And, please SHARE widely to help more people learn this Google tricks.