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How to Use Google’s Advanced Search Operators

How to Use Google's Advanced Search Operators

Regardless of which industry you operate in, providing value and gaining visibility has never been more important.

With increased competition in the digital space for audiences, you need to employ every tool in your toolbox to outmaneuver your competitors.

If your website isn’t ranking high on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), you may need to look for different ways to reach your intended audience. 

When you’ve exhausted all options, it’s time to look to non-conventional tools for search engine optimization (SEO). While there are plenty of choices available, both paid and unpaid, have you considered using Google’s own search functions to top the SERPs?

If you answered no, read on to learn how Google’s advanced search operators can considerably benefit your strategic digital efforts. 

What Are Google’s Advanced Search Operators?

While you may be familiar with some basic search operators from Google, the search algorithm supports deeper dives through a series of commands.

These commands include things like search term (denoted by: “[term]l”), prices (denoted by: $[item]), and site-specific sources (denoted by: site:[]).

Search operators like these are super handy for the everyday Googler, but more advanced operators can be a differentiating tool for the savvy marketer looking to gain a competitive advantage.

From word searches within titles to results that are within one word of another, Google’s advanced search operators can impact SEO and improve your standing in a market.

In this post, we highlight the top advanced search operators and how they can help take your digital strategy to the next level.

Why Should You Use Google’s Advanced Search Operators?

On the surface, the benefits of advanced search operators may seem to primarily align with search functionality; these handy codes can actually offer much larger benefits.

Below, we break down the top four ways advanced search operators can aid your digital presence.

1. Improve SEO Ranking

Let’s be honest: we’re all trying to improve our SEO ranking.

You can use the codes associated with many of Google’s advanced search operators to identify on-site issues that are negatively impacting your SEO.

These include:

  • loading times
  • host stability
  • security
  • bounce rates
  • search relevance
  • on-page keywords

From identification of indexing issues to highlighting linking opportunities, advanced search operators can go a long way in helping you improve SEO for improved SERP appearance. 

Plus, there’s another added benefit: this is a free strategy you can undertake individually to enhance your site’s overall performance.

2. Increase Blog Post Traffic

Struggling to attract the right traffic to your blog?

Posting as a guest on different industry-related blogs and news sites is an excellent strategy for driving more organic traffic to your website, not to mention scoring backlinks (which you can review using Ubersuggest).

Luckily, there’s an advanced search operator that can help you identify guest blog opportunities.

Use intitle:[topic].

For example, if you’re searching for a guest blog spot on how to manage an electronic health record implementation (EHR), you would search the following:

Healthcare intitle:”become a contributor”

Healthcare intitle:”become a contributor” on advanced search operator

3. Learn Your Competitors’ Publishing Schedule

As every marketer knows, keeping an eye on your competitors’ business is vital to your continued success.

To help make your monitoring easier, use the advanced search operator site:[competitor site] to learn how often your competitors post to their blog.

Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your posting schedule to be competitive and assess what they’re sharing, when, and why.

This research can also give you a better view of industry topics that generate organizational interest—an especially effective content strategy for B2B businesses

4. Identify Q&A Thread Opportunities

We all want more exposure and to establish ourselves as industry experts. We also want to identify any opportunities that can drive more traffic to our blog.

By answering questions or joining in on conversations on Q&A platforms, you can increase brand awareness and also demonstrate your knowledge to build trust with your audience. 

What’s more, you can subtly share links to your blog posts for further clarification, driving traffic to your blog.

To find relevant Q&A threads on known boards (such as Reddit, Quora, or other boards you interact with), search:

site:[board] intitle:[“topic”]

For example, if we’re hoping to contribute to a backlinking thread on Quora, we would search: intitle:”backlink.”

Healthcare intitle:”become a contributor” in advanced search operator

5 Ways to Use Google’s Top Advanced Search Operators

While we talked in general categories above, let’s dive deeper into specific search operators that can help boost your SEO score

Trust us, you’re going to want to commit these to memory.

1. Find Indexing Errors

Most sites contain Google indexation errors—and this is potentially true of your site, too.

To ensure that Google is indexing your site, you can use the site:[your site] operator to view your number of pages indexed.

Armed with this information, compare this number to Google’s and take action to correct any errors.

2. Find Duplicate Content

Duplicate content doesn’t do your Google ranking any favors.

In fact, it can tank it.

Imagine this scenario: you’re working to optimize an e-commerce site and learn that there are multiple identical product listings with only the color changed.

That’s no good.

Rather than manually combing through description after description, use Google’s advanced search operator to identify these duplications.

Use site:“copied and pasted content” to correct these simple errors.

3. Find Content Ideas

While we’ve already shared how Google’s advanced search operators can help you find guest spots on other blogs and track your competitors’ publication schedule, it’s time to talk about how an operator can help you find content ideas.

We all know how challenging it can be to come up with content topics regularly. To help make this arduous process easier, use the advanced search operator [inurl]:.

If we stay with our backlink example, we can search backlink inurl:“5 ways.”

By using this search function, you’ll return results within your industry, allowing you to browse for relevant content ideas. intitle:”backlink.” in advanced search operator

Pretty cool, right?

4. Find Linking Opportunities

Linking should top your SEO strategy list. You should constantly assess opportunities for both internal and external linking. Luckily for you, Google’s advanced search operators can help you do both.

External Linking Opportunities

Linking can have a huge impact on your SEO ranking. To help you find opportunities, you can use Google’s advanced search operator.

First, identify a site you would love a link from. After that, use search operators to create a list of similar sites you may also want to gain a backlink from.

In this case, the search operator you’ll want to use is [related:].

For example, imagine you’re a marketing firm and you would love a link from Moz. You would search to generate a list of similar sites. 

Internal Linking Opportunities

Internal links are vital to your site’s success, not to mention your SEO strategy.

When used appropriately, internal links encourage visitors to spend more time on your site and provide navigational efficacy throughout. 

Let’s imagine you just published a how-to blog.

It would be wise to go through your site to see where linking to this blog would be beneficial.

To find anchor text that aligns with your blog, you can search site:[yoursite] -site:[blog url] intext:”[anchor text].”

From there, you can start optimizing backlink opportunities for your newest content asset.

5. Discover Non-Secure Pages

Data breaches have been headline news in what feels like a weekly occurrence. Given these stories, it feels like no industry is safe from the threat of a breach. 

With that said, if your site uses credit card payments, you need to guarantee all of your pages are secure with an HTTP.

If you’re unfamiliar, an HTTP is an application layer protocol that is used for increased security of sensitive information.

Every e-commerce site must ensure that all of its pages are secured with this particular security layer.

Luckily, there’s an advanced search operator that can be used to easily identify insecure pages within your eCommerce site.

Simple enter: site[] -inurl:https

By using this formula, you can identify all of your site’s pages that aren’t secured with an HTTP.

Frequently Asked Questions About Google’s Advanced Search Operators 

What are advanced search operators?

Google’s advanced search operators are small pieces of code that can be used to search the development side of sites. By harnessing these operators, users can identify areas for site improvement, opportunities for growing blog traffic, among many other benefits. 

Are advanced search operators difficult to use?

While the term advanced may suggest a level of complication, these operators are incredibly easy to operate. All you need to know is what you’re searching for, and the operator will do the rest. 

How do Google search operators work? 

Google search operators work by enabling users to focus search solely on specific keywords, thus excluding others. By honing in on the particulars, your search becomes that much more targeted and effective. 

What is the difference between basic Google search and advanced?

Basic Google search and advanced Google search differ primarily in user intent. If you’re browsing the web, you’re going to want to use a basic search function. However, if you’re seeking very targeted information, you’ll want to turn to advanced search functionality to help refine your specific search. 

Google Advanced Search Operators Conclusion

We know how hard it can be to keep up with the revolving-door nature of SEO. As savvy marketers, we must use every tool available to us to ensure that our sites are as aligned with Google’s algorithm as possible. 

In this vein, using search operators provided by Google is an easy, free way to ensure that your SEO goals are aligned with the search engine’s algorithm.

As you enact the above five top search operators in your optimization strategy, you will undoubtedly uncover other ways these operators can help you improve your site from a variety of perspectives, ranging from content to site speed monitoring.

What’s the most useful search operator you’ve used? 

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