Search Like a Pro: Using Google's Advanced Search Operators - Patrick Harris
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Search Like a Pro: Using Google’s Advanced Search Operators

One of Google’s hidden gems is its use of advanced search operators. The operators allow searchers to further customize their searches to return more specific results.


To demonstrate this, let’s say you knew a website contained a pdf file you wanted to see buried somewhere in its site directory, or maybe you just wanted to collect some of the site’s pdfs.


You could use Google’s advanced search operators to return the appropriate files in the SERPs.





The example search:


site:www.abcam.com filetype:pdf ext:pdf

There are two separate operators being used here. The first search operator site: tells Google to narrow the search results to a specific domain, in this case abcam.com. The second operator filetype: tells Google that we only want pdf files returned in the SERPs, as identified by the file extension .pdf.



Google Advanced Search Operators, Or “Google Dorks”




As seen in the example, the site: advanced operator narrows the search results to a single domain. A common use case for this search operator in SEO is identifying the pages of a website that Google has indexed.





As you can see above, once you use this operator, Google displays how many web pages it has indexed for that domain and returns the pages.


If you know you’re looking for results from within a specific website, say real estate listings from Zillow or a specific movie review from Rotten Tomatoes, don’t navigate to the site and search from there. Do it all from Google.


site:rottentomatoes.com american beauty 

site:zillow.com los angeles 





Exact Match(“”)


The quotes force an exact match of the search term enclosed by the quotes. This means the searched words have to appear exactly as they are in the quotes, as opposed to returning the broad match results for the term.



site:linkedin.com "abcam"

site:zillow.com los angeles "sunset"

"bodhi organics, llc"

numpy "pmt" 

site:naenara.com.kp "united states"

site:news.google.com "north korea"






inurl: returns results with the given term in the url.



If, for example, you knew that all of some e-commerce company’s product pages contained the product name in the URL, you could combine this operator with the site: operator to search for specific products from Google, like



site:genetex.com inurl:"p53"



If you were an SEO looking for resource pages for a law offices’ website you might search something like


inurl:"resources" international law


inurl:"links" international law


Or check the polls:


inurl:"poll" trump


inurl:"poll" congress "california"





If you remember the domain name and part of the title of a webpage, you can use this operator combination:

site:pat.world intitle:python




This search operator takes the parameter you feed it and returns results that contain the given word(s) within the text of the webpage. Let’s say you wanted to find WordPress websites related to your industry that allowed you to post a comment. Well, WordPress’ default themes contain the line “powered by WordPress” in the footer of their templated pages. By default, posts that allow comments have the text “post-“, “add-“, or “submit a comment” above the text submission field. So,



intext:"powered by wordpress" intext:"a comment" real estate chicago 



will return (some) web pages on WordPress blogs related to Chicago real estate that accept comments below the page content. By adding the parameter intext:”a comment” we’ll inevitably match organic content from the website, not just the filler text above comment submissions. We could narrow it by adding the appropriate qualifying verbs to the intext: operator- postsubmit, leave, add, etc. IE  intext:post a comment.” Either way, this will take active vetting. Some pages on the SERP won’t be fit for you to add a link back to your website. But you will find plenty that are.



If you want to generate online buzz around your brand, a good place to start is by aggregating lists of websites that include areas with user-generated content, such as forums, guest posts, user comments, user-generated profiles, etc. This will allow you to add links back to your site if you commit time to provide valuable responses on these UGC sites related to your product or service. This is beneficial for both search engine authority and for positioning your brand as an influencer in its industry by providing quality content.






This matches results with all the parameter word(s) are the body of the results text.



site:bloomberg.com allintext:"smart circle international"






If you wanted to find websites similar to your own:








Or information related to a specific website:








The sign can be used to add words to the SERP, like



antibody science + "This page could not be found"

Exclude (-)



In contrast, the – sign can be used to exclude words that you don’t want to appear in the SERP. Let’s say you had a sore throat and were looking for a remedy. You know Wikipedia contains encyclopedic entries and won’t likely contain relevant information about how to treat your specific symptoms, so you want to exclude those results. Just append a -wikipedia.org to your search, like



sore throat treatment -wikipedia.org


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