Google search operators—just what are they? Why, how & when should I use them? All great questions that I’ve been asked time and time again.
In fact, you may have even used Google search operators yourself without consciously knowing it!
Search operators can be one of those great research mysteries people use online to discover things that most do not without this knowledge.
Take for example, when many online entrepreneurs use specific keyword research strategies we can find and analyze competition much easier.
Each time you use quotes around a word or phrase you’re using a type of Google Search Operator. Or when you use a specific “allintitle” command in Google like—”allintitle: financial independence or “dropship suppliers”, for example—you’re using a Google search operator at its most basic. But sometimes at its most powerful.
A search operator on Google helps you refine your search results to the exact keywords or phrase strings you need to find results for.
It’s not necessarily exclusive to Google, of course. But there’s a reason why approximately 73 percent of all search queries begin on Google (1). They simply provide the most accurate results.
Not just the most accurate. They’re also the most nuanced. With Google, you can filter your results down to everything from images to file types to specific sites—all by using Google search operators. Which is great for the average user. But how does it help entrepreneurs running an online business?
Let’s discuss some popular ways you could use google search operators to help grow your online business:
6 Popular Reasons to Use Google Search Operators
1- Competitive Research
Using specific Google search operators you can simplify and narrow down the process of researching industry competitors. Competitive research and analysis is one of the major business building fundamentals to master to launch and grow a profitable business.
By reviewing just how and why your competitors are ranking, you’ll have eliminated a lot of guesswork and saved yourself hours of frustration before and after you launch your online business.
2- Searching for Guest Blog Writers
Creating valuable content is the foundation of generating online traffic. The more helpful content you create for your audience to engage with, the greater your traffic and influence can be. But content doesn’t always have to be self generated.
A guest blog writer can help you lift the heavy load of creating high engaging blog content. When you discover guest blog writers who have written for other sites you could simply look that person up on Google to consider hiring them to write for you too. Here are some examples of some types of search operator searches you could do on Google to help you find guest blog writers:
The “write for us” approach:
“[your keyword]” +”contribute to this site”
“[your keyword]” + “guest post”
“[your keyword]” +”write for us”
“[your keyword]” +”write for me”
“[your keyword]” +”become a contributor”
“[your keyword]” +”blogging guidelines”
“[your keyword]” +”contribute”
“[your keyword]” +”submit a guest post”
“[your keyword]” + “accepting guest posts”
3- Managing Brand Reputation
Admit it. We’ve all Googled our own company or personal name at least once. Maybe even more than once. But are you merely doing this out of curiosity? Because here’s the reality: if you own a business, no matter how small, eventually people will be talking about it. And it’s the nature of the internet that may not always be pretty.
Using Google search operators won’t just help you with damage control and discover the negative stuff people are talking about regarding your company or name, but also the good.
In other words you can keep yourself posted on the reputation you are creating by observing discussions people are having about your personal name or brand. You can also turn the table and discover information about your competitor’s strong or weak spots that you can use to strengthen your customer service.
4- Finding Backlinks
If you’ve been using SEO in your marketing, you know the value of backlinks. But you should also know the value of high quality, relevant backlinks. By using Google search operators, you can review just what backlinks your competitors have that influence their search engine ranking positions. You can also confirm that your own website backlinks aren’t dead, returning 404 page errors and fix them.
5- Image Sourcing and Protection
Google tends to rank image friendly sites much higher. Images generally tend to create the most lasting impressions (2) in your marketing strategy. Believe it or not, that includes stock images. The problem is that many stock images are copyrighted; which can get you into a heap of trouble with both the copyright holders and Google themselves. Google search operators help you to confirm which images are in the public domain and help you protect your own original images you created.
Bonus tip: If you’re in need of FREE, high quality public domain stock images, GetStencil.com, Pexels.com, Canva.com and Pixabay.com are all excellent resources I highly recommend and use regularly for images and design.
6- Duplicate Content Elimination
This has been a recurring issue for both large and small businesses, and it’s one that Google has staunchly prohibited. The problem is that their bots can’t always distinguish every piece of duplicate content that currently receives traffic. They’re subject to their own parameters and their own commands. You’ve worked hard to create your own listings and generate your own unique content. Don’t let a plagiarist get away with stealing it. Search operators can help you distinguish content that competitors have duplicated as well as help identify duplicate content on your site you may not have even been aware was in violation of Google’s Terms of Service.
Finding Backlink Sources For Your Website
inurl: This operator will return search results that contain the search term in the URL of the site. This can help you find sites that are more likely to help you build quality backlinks. Here is how:
Search for ( inurl:blog photography ) This will return results for sites that have the word blog in the URL, and are related to Photography. Which will be great place to leave comments if your site is related to photography.
Other Terms to Use: When looking for sites on which to build backlinks using the inurl: operator with terms such as forum, submit, submit-link, submit-url, submitsite, remember to also include a keyword related to your niche so that your links will be more relevant.
Site: You can use this operator to find a specific kind of website. This is important because links from educational and government sites may often receive more credit from search engines and subsequently better rankings. Here is how it works:
Search for ( site:.gov “building wealth” ) This will return results for sites that have the extension .edu, and are related to building wealth. This is a great place to leave comments if you have a related site. It is also great to use this operator to find extensions like .sgu and .org which are considered much more credible sources.
Intext: This will show results that contain the search term in text on the website. This can help you find sites that are looking for links, comments, etc.
Search for ( intext:.”submit url” entrepreneurs ) This will return results for sites that have the text “submit url” on the page, and are related to entrepreneurs. This means that they will most likely have an option which allows you to submit a URL.
How To Exclude A Word From Google Search
Exclude: It’s pretty common that you’re going to come across words or unnecessary phrases during your Google search. Exclude words you don’t need by adding a hyphen just right before the excluded work with no spaces like this -excludedword.
Search for ( wordpress -shopify ) will bring up all the results you need related to WordPress if you’re not interested in using Shopify as well. You might already know this, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this simple operator.
Obviously there is some useful stuff you can do with operators but what if you could use them together? Well, you can and here is how.
- Search for ( inurl:blog site:.edu intext:”post a comment” photography )
- This will return results for educational websites that have a blog and contain the phrase “post a comment” on the page. which would be a fantastic place to start building backlinks if your website is related to photography.
Proximity Search On Google – AROUND(X)
Around: This helps you perform what’s known as a proximity Google search. You essentially want to use this to find two words or phrases within a certain proximity of one another. Let’s say you want to find a dropship supplier specializing in Super Bowl memorabilia and you don’t have two hours to sort through Google’s return results. Your keywords would be ”dropship” and “Super Bowl.” That leaves you with three separating words in our example. Here’s how you would use a proximity Google search.
Search for ( dropship AROUND(3) “super bowl” ) and you’ll be able to narrow down results pretty easily.
Google Wildcard *
Sometimes, you’ll run out of ideas during your Google search. You may want to take your chances and hope you’ll get a random search result that brings enough traffic. The Google wildcard operator does just that. The asterisk character * acts as a placeholder for a word or phrase and can get you surprisingly great results. Here’s how it works.
Search for ( “create * wealth online“ ) and you might get some great phrases to use for both searching and blog posts: “create true wealth online,” “create genuine wealth” and a whole host of useful resources to help you in your research.
Google Search Date Range
You don’t just want to make certain that your links are relevant to the topic. You want to ensure they’re up to date, as well. This can be incredibly useful in your research, since content and information changes every single day.
Search for ( “best email marketing tools” after:2020-01-01 ) and Google will only include results published after your chosen date. For the most results, simply include the year without the month or date.
You may have accidentally uploaded the wrong filetype to your site and it’s just cluttering it up at this point. Or you may want to review a file at a later date for offline research. Google’s filetype search can help you. Here’s how.
Search for ( site:sba.gov ext:pdf OR ext:doc OR ext:php ) and Google will only return those exact same extensions and file types.
From time to time, you may want to revisit an older or outdated version of a site to retrieve content. Since content is constantly updated, sometimes relevant info can get lost in the shuffle. You can use this operator easily:
Search for ( cache:https://watchmanadvisors.com/list-of-dropshipping-suppliers/ dropship ) This will show you Google’s cache of my own blog articles. You can also add specific terms like dropship like I did at the end and the search which will highlight any mention of that word on the cached page you search for. Note: do not add a space between the cache: command and the URL.
Google search operators are extremely multi-faceted. In fact, to cover them all would take an entire book! Check out this link for a listing of additional Google Search operators, what they do and how to use them: