If there is one thing we can practically guarantee that you did today, we bet you googled something.
For a search engine that has become a verb – a verb!- and a tool that we use each and every day, you would think that it would be a tool that we would know pretty intimately.
Oddly, that isn’t the case – for many of us, at least. For a tool that we rely on pretty acutely, a tool that we use to power our everyday lives, we could be getting much more accurate search results than what the average user is getting.
For all of Google’s power, for all of its strength as a search engine as the most popular search engine in the world, it still has some shortcomings. If you don’t know how to navigate properly around them, you won’t be getting the most out of your searches.
How many times have you tried to Google something and it brought up something completely irrelevant to what you were looking for?
Or perhaps you ended up with a search that was quite broad and you needed to scroll down a page or two to find your desired topic, meaning you wasted time and you still can’t be sure you got the best resources you could have found.
We bet it’s happened more than once. However, that’s about to stop right now.
There are ways to enhance your search results via something called “Google search operators.” These are specific commands that you simply have to type into your search bar, which will result in the search engine delivering more powerful results.
Think of this article as a Google search operators cheat sheet, peppered with a lot of search operators examples.
Power search with Google, right here, right now. Everything on this list is so easy you can begin implementing it immediately.
Important Note: Everything enclosed in brackets will be used to denote what is being typed into a hypothetical Google search bar.
Before we move on to our Google search operators list, let’s begin by walking you through an example so you get an idea of what we’re talking about.
Google Search Operators Cheat Sheet
Let’s explore the “Site:” Google search operator. This is one of the big ones. Let’s say you were interested in reading about the latest Apple flagship, the iPhone 7.
Perhaps you only wanted to read about it on the official Apple site first and didn’t want to read any additional reviews from other websites.
If that was the case, you would type [“iPhone 7” site:apple.com] into your search bar.
*Note: Ensure that there isn’t a space between site:apple.com.
As you can see, Google only brought up search results from Apple.com, just like we wanted them to. This is one of many Google search operators to choose from, but now you get the basic idea of how it works. You probably also noticed the quotation marks around “iPhone 7.”
We will get into that shortly. But first, let’s explore the Site operator in a little more detail.
- Site Operator [site:]
Not only can you use Site: to bring up information from specific websites, as we showed in the example above, but you can also search for information from governmental or educational sites by adding [site:gov or site:edu] respectively. This is great if you need reputable references.
You can even search for both governmental and educational sites at one time by combining the Site Operator with the OR Operator (more on this later). For example, you would simply enter [site:gov OR site:edu] into your search bar.
This article goes into more depth about the Site Operator.
You can also search for a list of web pages that are similar to the one you are searching for. If you are looking for web pages that are similar to New York Times, for example, you would simply enter [related:nytimes.com] into your search bar.
Keep in mind, however, that the Related Operator tends to only work for larger websites. You also can’t combine it with other operators. Nonetheless, this is a great way to get reputable sources that are similar to ones you already trust – you may even get a few new bookmarks out of it.
Similar to the Related Operator is the ability to search for a given term and all of its synonyms. You can do this with the tilde symbol [~].
Do you want specific information about a particular web page, such as a cached version, similar pages to that website or web pages that link to that particular web page or contain that specific web page in the search results? If so, you enter [info:nytimes.com] into your search bar.
- Search for An Exact Match [“ ”]
Sometimes, you need Google to bring up search results that are an exact match; this prevents Google from bringing up synonyms of your particular keyword or from searching for United and States as two separate entities instead of “United States.”
If that’s what you need, you can enclose a given set of keywords in quotation marks and Google will deliver an exact match. You will probably use this tip regularly.
This is not only a valuable tool when it comes to searching for musical lyrics, but it is also useful for determining whether or not someone has plagiarized any of your content.
Simply pick out the more unique phrases and then enclose them in quotes, like this [“simply pick out the more unique phrases and then enclose them in quotes”]. Google will then search for sites with that exact, specified chunk of text.
Did you know about all these other Google search tips and tricks?
- Exclusion Operator [-]
If you don’t want Google to include certain keywords or websites in your search results, you can use the minus sign to do this.
For example, if you wanted to to exclude all Wikipedia search results you would enter [Google Analytics -site:wikipedia.com]. Hey, Wikipedia might be a great resource, but it’s still a ways off from being accepted in business (or school) as a reputable source.
Note again that there are no spaces between the minus operator and the term you want to exclude from your search results.
You can also exclude exact-match phrases. You can do this by using the [-] again and following this with the exact phrase in quotes. This is particularly useful when you are searching for something that is often linked to another topic, but that related topic doesn’t suit your purpose.
For example, perhaps you want to search for information on blue jays, but keep getting results on the Toronto Blue Jays, you could simply take “Toronto” and/or “baseball” out of the search equation.
You can also exclude more than one term if you so wish. However, each minus sign should only have one keyword attached to it at a time.
- Or Operator [OR]
This will bring up search results that have one of two results, but not both. For example, if you typed [“Facebook” OR “Twitter”] into Google, it would bring up results that have either Facebook or Twitter in them, but not both. Note that you must have “OR” in all capitals.
Here is a list of all the Google Search Operators that content marketers should familiarize themselves with.
Advanced Google Searching
- Range Operator [..]
If you want your search results to bring up results from a range of numbers (like years, for example, you would enter [2010..2015]. This is crucial when you need up to date information or statistics and don’t want to go sifting through a bunch of needless sites.
This operator is also useful if you searching for a product within a certain dollar amount. In that case, you’d enter in your search bar.
Google even has a Date Range Operator [daterange:], which allows you to search for a range of more specific dates. However, you can only use this operator by using the Julian format.
- All in Text Operator [allintext:] & All in Anchor Text [allinanchor:]
Use this search operator if you want your search results to bring up all of the terms in the page’s text. For example, if you enter [allintext:social media image size cheat sheet], Google would only bring up pages that have “social”, “media”, “image”, “size” “cheat” and “sheet” in the text.
The In text Operator [intext:] would search for the first term in your list. In the above example, it would only include pages with “social” in it. This article covers the All in Text Operator in more detail.
Similar to the All in the Text Operator is the All in the Anchor Text Operator [allinanchor:], which brings up queries that are specifically in anchor text. The In Anchor Operator [inanchor:] will bring up search results that contain the first query.
- All in Title Operator [allintitle:]
Looking for a specific web page title? Search for [allintitle: time management tips]. This is a great tool for checking how original your title is in order to generate clicks. It is also a great way to determine if someone has (potentially) plagiarized your content.
A spin on this is the In Title Operator, which will only bring up search results for the first word in the title.
For example, if you enter [intitle: time management tips], it would only bring up search results for titles with “time” in the title, with the rest of the queries (i.e.”management” and “tips) appearing in the rest of the text.
Read that a few times if you need to, in order to be absolutely certain you’re using the tool in the proper way.
- All in URL Operator [allinurl:]
Just as you might have guessed, the All in URL Operator will only bring up the queries in the URL that you mention. The In Url [inurl:] will bring up the first query in the URL.
For example, if you typed [inurl: time management tips] into your search bar, it would only bring up results with “time” in the URL.
- Wildcard Operator [*]
You can use Google’s Wildcard Operator in the event that you can’t remember a particular word. The asterisk (*) is used as a placeholder for any words that you don’t know in a particular phrase.
Other Search Tricks
Here are few additional handy hacks when it comes to using Google. In today’s online landscape, businesses must know Google well if they want to thrive. This means everything from SEO to Google Analytics. Are you familiar with Google Analytics yet?
You can move up the ranks with help from Yocale’s Google optimized mini-website.
- Definition Operator [define:]
Do you want the definition of a specific word? If so, you’d enter [define:lead magnet] into your search bar.
- Filetype Operator [filetype:]
Do you want to search for specific file types, such as PDF links? You would enter [ebook creation guide filetype:pdf] into your search bar.
- Location Operator [location:]
Perhaps you want to bring up search results from a specific country. For example, you only want news from Canada. In that case, you would enter [news location:canada] into your search bar.
This tip is particularly useful for businesses, because the data that is most applicable is often from their own country, as results for, say, lawn care in Thailand will not be particularly similar to those for Canada.
You don’t want to base any business decisions on information that is not applicable to your business’s specific demographics, of course, and this will help limit the chance of error.
Book related information? [books:”Game of Thrones”]. What about movies? [movies:Batman]. Music? [music:The Beatles].
Now that we’ve covered the more basic and advanced Google search operators, you might want to read this article on all of the Google search operator combinations that you can make use of.
The only way you can power search with Google is by keeping this Google search operators list handy. We all know the importance of Google for businesses, so be sure to use it wisely!