Google Like a Pro with Search Operators

For the average searcher, popping a query into google and hitting enter is as natural as brushing our teeth. But sometimes the results aren’t what we were looking for. You know the information is out there, but there’s a bunch of noise in the way.

Don’t despair. You too can Google like a pro and add a layer of specificity to your searches with Google’s advanced search operators.

It’s very easy to use Google search operators, simply refer to this cheatsheet whenever you need a little more oomph in your searches!

Basic Search Operators

Phrase search “search term”

By putting a phrase or specific terms in quotes, you are asking Google to return only results with that literal string of words in the results. I sometimes use this when looking for a very specific question because often if I can find the question, I can find the answer as well!

Search within a specific website site.com:search term

By putting domain.com:search term in your query, you are asking Google to search within a specific website. Often these results are better than those offered by the website’s internal search. So if you can’t find something you’re looking for on a forum for example, try using Google to search the website!

Find all indexed links to specific website link:website.com

Easily see how many inbound links there are to a specific site or page. For example, to see the indexed links pointing to Top Draw, enter link:topdraw.com. Keep in mind though, Google doesn’t share all of this data for the sake of protecting it’s algorithm and to avoid gaming of it’s system, so you won’t see every single link to your site here.

Excluding terms -search -term

Sometimes results come back with unwanted noise. If you were searching for coffee, but wanted to avoid all the Starbucks references, for example, you could search coffee -starbucks.

Wildcard terms search *

Use of an asterisk requests Google to treat it as a placeholder for any unknown terms, replacing them with the best possible match. This can be very powerful for research. Try searching the * wonders of the world, naturally the first result is the 7 wonders of the world.

Exact searches +searchterm

Using the plus symbol is similar to quotes in that it provides results that exactly match your query. A general search for minivan will bring back results for mini van and vice versa, to avoid seeing these variations, use +minivan.

Advanced Search Operators

A few more operators exist that allow you to search within specific parts of websites or META data to find even more highly specified information.

allinanchor:search term

Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the anchor text (links to the page).

inanchor:search term

Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the anchor text (links to the page).

allintext:search term

Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page text.

intext:search term

Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page text.

allintitle:search term

Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page title.

intitle:search term

Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page title.

allinurl:search term

Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page address.

inurl:search term

Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page address.

cache:search term

Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in Google’s cache of the page.

define:search term

Provides a definition for the search term.

related:url.com/search-term

Provides results related to the page associated with that url.

There are more, too – but you probably don’t need them since Google does a pretty good job of recognizing these on its own. Some of these include:

movie:
weather:
phonebook:
location:

All these search operators can be helpful in tailoring your search results for specific information. In addition to search operators, don’t forget you can click on the “more tools” link to the left of your Google search results pages for even more ways to refine your results and get that golden nugget of information you’re after!

– Post by Nick Pierno. Follow Nick on Twitter: @nickpierno

  • Some other cool thing about the site command that I just recently discovered: It works with Image Search and Video Search as well! So to see all the images on a specific website, just use “site:domain.com” and then click over to the images tab, and it’ll display all the images hosted on that sphere (that have been indexed by Google).