Generally, a Google search gives the searcher something close to what they are looking for. Just give it a try. Search the name of your favorite band or TV show and you’ll get a main marketing website, Wikipedia or IMDb entries, news stories and other relevant content. But what if we want to go deeper and find something on a specific site or omit certain words and content from our search? That is where Search Operators come in to help drill down a bit further.
What are Search Operators?
As Moz so concisely puts it in this article, search operators are extending commands and characters that make your search more advanced. We use several here at SCG to help us when we are evaluating sites for SEO health and when doing research and competitor analysis. They can also help in everyday searches to get you precisely what you are looking for more quickly and easily—like using a magnet to help find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Here are just a few that I have been using and what I have been using them for:
This is probably the operator we use most often. Site: is used to limit search results to a specific site. For example, if you search site:scgpr.com and then a search term, your SERP (Search Engine Results Page, learn a bit more about these in one of my previous posts) will show only results on scgpr.com, like so:
We can move on to our next favorite and really start chaining operators together.
Nope, that little dash is not a typo, it’s the minus operator. It is used to exclude a certain term from your search results. Say you are searching out something on scgpr.com and you don’t want any results that contain the string blog (I just want webpages, not blog posts!), just search site:scgpr.com -blog and…
No blogs in my search of scgpr.com only. Very useful when really trying to whittle down to core content pages of a site. You can get really specific results with our last operator.
3. ” “
Again, not a typo! Searching a term wrapped in quotes will search that exact term. This can be really useful if looking for a product name or person within a certain search. Let’s chain all of these together and see what we get, using myself as an example:
Exactly what is expected to be there, with just a few specifications.
We are just scratching the surface of how powerful search operators can make your searches. There are many more operators that can be used in Google searches that can make your results more tailored to what you are trying to accomplish, and you can view and learn about them here. We’ll check back a bit later to chat more about operators and how they can help you in your SEO efforts and beyond.
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