Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become an important profession, as every business is looking for ways to promote their products online. Today, companies need an SEO expert to initiate the work and proceed further. The modern SEO is expected to be the king of all trades. As an SEO expert, you are expected to have specialized knowledge about search engines, link building, marketing and related things.
However, the fact is that there is not a single SEO program that help SEO experts figure out everything. Being an SEO expert, you should continue learning new techniques and tricks to take your website on the top of search results.
Every SEO expert should learn the tricks to save time and generate better results. Have you ever thought of an idea about reducing the process that can save time and help you maintain quality? As an experienced SEO expert, I have given it some thought.
The thought is “Search Operators”.
Now, what are Search Operators?
Search Operators are nothing but, a set of parameters that help you narrow down the search results. There are tons of search operators available in the online world. You can use them to virtually find anything you are looking for. However, you cannot generate results — if you don’t know how to use them.
In this post, I am going to show what search operators you should consider and how to use them on a regular basis for managing your webpages effectively. You will see their power, once you start using them.
Search with quotes
This search operator searches for the exact phrase within the speech marks and is ideal when you are using search something that could be confused easily with something else. If you are not getting relevant results, users search it using quotes. The main purpose of quotation marks was to let people tell Google to search for words in between quotation marks.
For example – if we take words like – “Healthy Food”, “Healthy” “Food” or “Healthy” Food, there is a lot of difference between all these search queries.
The first one would show results for healthy food. If you want to highlight both “Healthy” and “Food”, and don’t care if they appear adjacent to each other, then put the words in quotes like second sample. If the word “Healthy” is important and you don’t mind variants of “Food” like treat or meal, then third example would be a great choice.
Using quotes in search query would help you determine if the pages are being indexed for search terms you are optimizing for. You can even identify competing sites, as the search results are narrowed down after adding quotes.
If you are an SEO expert, you might be aware of how important on-page SEO. On-page SEO ensures that each title tag of the page is optimized for specific set of keywords. It is a known fact that any pages that include your keywords in the title tags are your competitors who have targeted that particular keyword for SEO campaign.
The ‘Search Term’ operator will help you know your competitors who are using the same keywords. You can check the number of results, when the search result is displayed. If you see reputed sites on search engine result, it is difficult to break the competition, unless you have a huge budget.
This operator is great for comparing similar keywords so that you can select the keywords strategically for your campaign.
This search query helps you get a snapshot of your website’s incoming links. This is highly valuable, especially when you research links of your competitor. This search operator used to yield the results of all the pages with links to the given URL. However, this practice has been stopped and at present Google is providing a sampling of the sites that contain links to the supplied URL.
I advise you to use Google Webmaster Tools, if you want to get complete list of links to your website. Using Link:operator will help you get an idea of incoming links so that you can plan your link building strategy in a better way.
There are many other tools such as – Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, and Open Site Explorer etc that give you a complete idea of your link profile. However, they are paid tools and cost you more.
This search operator can be used by Google search engine only. So, I advise you not to try this on Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine. The main purpose of this operator is to provide useful information that assists you with competitive research. It will return the page title and description along with recent cache of URL, pages similar to content of URL, pages that link to URL and pages that link from the website.
If you want complete information about the site, you should consider using this search operator. There is a lot of general information you can get on your domain from Google.
The Site Operator is a basic, but very powerful search operator. This is used with the domain of a website to return all the pages that are indexed by Google with that particular domain. The most practical use of this search operator is to see how many pages one’s site has been indexed compared to the published pages.
If there is a significant difference between the numbers, this could indicate a problem with the way Google is crawling your site. This search operator also shows how Google presents the title and description for each page. The best thing about this search operator is the search for specific keywords within a particular site. This will list all the pages containing keywords that Google has indexed from the site.
This is a very useful to figure out what pages are strongest contenders for any particular keyword. Having the list of entire pages is much more useful than the pages of search term results.
It is a daunting task to repeat same search terms and sort through duplicate content, URLs and results to find new URLs. For example – if you write on multiple topics that are closely related, you might use different search strings to find relevant content. You will get a lot of duplicate results, if you did search query with terms related to link building, SEO, content marketing etc.
If you have to search multiple topics that are not clearly related, you should consider using the operator ‘OR’. It is also known as Boolean operator. When you use this operator, Google realizes that the pages with on the left or right of it is relevant.
For instance – if you searched for Fruits OR Vegetables on Google, you will get a page that has either “Fruits” or ”Vegetables” on it. You may not get a page that is related to both. Remember to capitalize “OR” or else Google will consider it a normal word.
The ‘intitle’ search operator is highly beneficial when it comes to promote your content on a specific topic. You may need to find a certain type of article for research purpose. This can be done by using ‘Intitle’ search operator. You can append a search after the colon, just like the ‘Site’ operator.
For example – intitle: “content writing tips”
Will show the results with “content writing tips” in the title, rather than title tags. However, you need to be very careful with this operator. The results will change if you use the operator without quotations. If you use the above sample, as –
intitle:content writing tips
You will see the search results with “content” in the title, but writing and tips are mentioned on title, tag, anchor text or content. If you want 100% search results, you should consider using the operator as –
intitle:content intitle:writing intitle:tips.
I will guarantee that an exact match is shown in the search results.
inurl : Keyword
If you want to track down the common keywords or phrases for effective link building, use the operator inurl. Many of the keywords re included in the content itself, but the best ones are contained in the URL of the post. With inurl search operator, you can look for specific pages.
For example – if you are looking for something like – www.xyz.com/become-a-contributor. You can actually find relevant pages by using inurl search operator, as below –
inurl: ”Become a contributor”
As you use the above operator, you will be returned with results with words right to the colon in the URL. However, there are a few things to consider with the usage of quotation marks. As the phrase “Become a contributor” is in quotation marks, only those pages with words in exact order are shown up. To fix this, you can use the operator as –
Inurl: Become inurl: a inurl: contributor
You will get results with words in same or different order.
inanchor : Keyword
The inanchor operator will return web pages with inbound links with anchor text containing specified terms. This search operator will restrict your search to pages where the inbound links matches your search word.
For example – health inanchor:yoga will return web pages with inbound links that have anchor text containing the word ‘yoga’, which is relevant to the term ‘health’. If you want to search for sitemaps, you can achieve it by using inanchor: “site map”, as most of the sites link to their own sitemaps using the text “Site Map”.
Inanchor is not always the best search option. However, it is always a reliable operator, if your site has been optimized for that particular keyword.
This search operator can be used to search terms separated by 1-5 words. If you want to find articles about particular topics to build potential list of prospects, you should consider using this operator. There are powerful commands, and is as good as a clever searcher.
If you are looking for a specific post and couldn’t find it as you do not remember all the words of a phrase. You cannot proceed with the search query, if you fail to remember the words of a phrase. The wildcard operator comes in handy, during such times.
When the user includes “*” in any search, Google replaces it with any word/words. Sometimes, Google puts multiple words in its place.
For example – if you are searching for top * business schools
- Google will bring up results that include –
- 50 Best Undergraduate Business Schools
- Top International Business Schools
- Top MBA colleges
- List of Top 10 Business Schools
- 16 Top US Business Schools
and so on.
This is a compiled list of Search Operators that every SEO should know about. Go ahead and pick some of one of the above operators to start with. As you become familiar with their usage, you can combine multiple search operators to get focused results.
Whether you are performing competitive research for existing program or beginning a new campaign, these search operators will help you gain competitive edge. Most of the digital marketers and SEO experts would be quite familiar with these. However, for those who are just starting out —- these search operators can be a bit tricky.
Practicing these operators is a useful way to perform day to day tasks. It takes a little creativity and practice. However, you can get used to it quickly by using them regularly.
If you are using any of these operators, please comment below!
Guest Author: He is writer as well as SEO consultant at AkashSEO. I help people create or revise their SEO plan, implement it and monitor results.