Google’s catalog of information is a big place. It’s a universe in and of itself with more information than it is possible to process in a lifetime. Fortunately, Google created a set of commands to help searchers narrow their search results and find specific information.
These set of commands are known as search operators.
Search operators can be useful in finding a specific article title, even researching an author, or looking for guest posting opportunities for your business.
Whether you are a digital marketer, a student, or casual Google user, search operators are an incredibly powerful tool for research that can be useful in your day-to-day browsing experience.
How Do Search Operators Work?
Google search operators are used by placing a command in the search box before the keyword or phrases you wish to search.
There are two degrees of search operators that will determine the depth of the search results. They level from basic to advanced.
Basic search operators are fundamental characters or words that help narrow a search to specific results.
Advanced search operators are specific words that dictate what category of information you wish to find in the search results. That is not the only thing that distinguishes them from being considered basic; advanced search operators also have reliable and unreliable commands. Unreliable commands simply mean that Google has deprecated their value to a certain extent or terminated it entirely.
Basic Search Operator Commands
Basic search operators offer great ways to find specific products and information over the web.
“ “ Including quotation marks around a word or phrase spawn narrower results since the command provides concise, exact matches as results.
OR Provides two specific sets of search results for one search. This is useful if you do not want to make two separate searches.
| The vertical bar holds the same purpose as OR.
Example:”Netflix OR Hulu”
“Netflix | Hulu”
– used to omit a keyword or series of keywords from your search. The search will not include those chosen words in your search and will deliver narrow and selective results.
Example: “netflix” -hulu -prime
+ Used to include certain words in your search.
Example “Netflix” +Hulu
And, of course, both operators can be implemented in a single search to deliver the best results catered to the commands given in the search.
Example: “Netflix” +Hulu -amazon
* The asterisk is a wild card operator. It prompts unpredictable search results matching any word or phrase to various sites on Google. This is particularly helpful if you don’t know where to begin with the idea or topic you have in mind since the search will direct you to a diverse results page of sites you may find interesting.
Example: *streaming services
@ That “at” symbol is placed before a domain name, which then directs the search to social media sites belonging to that domain.
# The hashtag is used for finding events across multiple social media sites.
$ Place the dollar sign before a number and the item you are looking for to find an exact (or close to) price of an item you are looking for.
Example: “Netflix $10”
This includes the Euro sign(€), too. Unfortunately, other currencies do not work through Google’s search engine.
IN Used for conversions.
Example: “50 mL IN cups”
“30 mph IN kph”
This also works for currency conversions, too.
Example: “$50 in Yen”
AROUND(#) Relates to the distance between words in a search.
Example: “netflix AROUND(3) hulu”
This says Netflix must not appear three words apart from Hulu in the results.
A List of Advanced Search Operators
Advanced search operators provide more reliable results that can very beneficial to your research.
site: If you are looking for a certain site domain name, this operator will deliver results with that desired site at the top of the page.
Adding a company name or a person’s name after the domain name will direct you to that specific person or channel on the site searched.
Example: site:”netflix.com” stranger things
related: Useful if you are looking for websites in a specific industry or topic of interest.
The results will prompt a list of streaming services similar to Netflix.
cache: Allows access to view Google’s cached version of the website you search. Of course, this only works if the source uses indexed information.
define: To learn the meaning of a word or an acronym, simply type the word after the operator and submit the search.
filetype: Limits your search to a specific type of file (.DOCX, .PDF, .EXE).
Example: netflix filetype:pdf
intitle: Results display sites where the keyword or phrase is found in the title.
allintitle: includes all words in the search to displays sites with those words found in the title on the results page.
intext: Results include the content existing within a site has the exact words as written in the search query.
Example: intext:“Netflix releases”
allintext: Leads you to sites that have content matching all words written in the search query.
Example: allintext:Netflix march releases
inurl: A specific search for a word that prompts sites where that exact word is found in the URL.
Example: netflix inurl:releases
allinurl: A broad search where all words are considered in a URL.
Example: Netflix allinurl:march releases
blogurl: is another variation for allinurl:
Example blogurl: netflix blogurl:wordpress
source: allocates the results to the source a particular site withholding the information or data the keyword or phrase executed in the search.
Example: netflix source:”new_yorker”
weather: delivers weather results and forecasts based upon the city or town written after the operator.
stock: Directs the search results to display current stock information and other general details about a particular company.
For example, Netflix’s stock search would look appear as: stocks:nflx
map: Directs the search to Google’s map of a location or proximity of a search. More popular locations will have a result with sites containing local maps.
movie: Search provides information about the specific movie in the search. It is even capable of displaying showtimes at a local theater if the movie is still screening.
location: Includes information about specific types of places like parks, stadiums, and buildings searches for articles in a specific location.
Example: location:”madison square garden”
This operator is also capable of including searches for articles in a specific location.
Example: location:”manhattan” netflix
It is also worth noting, to optimize results, operators can be supplemented together in a single search to cater specific and concise results.
For instance, you might be curious to know what movies or television shows were added to Netflix in March of 2018. Your search might look something like:
“Netflix” inurl:2018 intext:”new releases” intitle:”March” site:”hollywoodreporter.com”
Lastly, there are those Google Search Operators that have since been devalued, or deprecated, by Google, spawning infrequent results. Others, which are not listed here, have since been terminated entirely by Google and have been depreciated entirely, as they are no longer effective in the search query.
Additional General Search Operators
inanchor: delivers results with either anchor text written in the search query, never both.
Example: inanchor:”tv movies”
allinanchor: A more general search that broadens the intended results of anchor text instead of delivering sites with only one of the keywords on the results page.
Example: allinanchor:tv movies
daterange: used to find pages within a specific date range. The format used requires Julian format; nothing else works.
Example: netflix releases daterange:2458209-2458238
.. This allows you to search for a range of data.
Example: “Netflix March..May”
info: used to receive general information and details about a particular site.
link: delivers a wide array if results where the keyword or phrase is present in the text of a link.
id: this operator is also “link:”, though, “link” does not entirely work, due to its deprecation. Though id: functions to find information about a particular site, including its most recent cache.
Now, that you have a better understanding of search operators, be sure to leverage them the next time you complete competitor research or hunt for backlink opportunities!