You can combine very complex search queries and search Google with precision accuracy using advanced queries. But before we can take advantage of these search operators, we have to understand what they are, and how you can combine them to create complex search queries. The data is out there in Google, we have to learn to search for it like this:
Google: Boolean Operators
Everything starts by understanding how Boolean operators “AND” “OR” “NOT” work, and how these Boolean operators can also have special meaning when searching Google.
AND = is a Boolean operator AND (all capital letters) is the default search syntax, so you don’t have to specify it at all if you are constructing basic searches, because it does that by default each time you use the spacebar on your keyboard. Meaning, when you type a word (let’s call it firstQuery) then hit spacebar on your keyboard and type a second word, Google searches its database looking for the firstQuery AND the secondQuery. So by default it is ANDing your search terms. Another example:
- SEO blog (searches Google by saying; bring me a document that has the word SEO AND blog)
Now let’s take a look at OR operator. Using this syntax will override the default ANDing process when you search Google
- Example: SEO OR blog (overrides the default ANDing) tells Google “hey Google bring me a document that has the word SEO OR blog” think of it as saying “either this or that”
-minus operator = (Boolean operator NOT) when you place a –in front of a keyword, you are telling Google to exclude that keyword. Think of it as saying: don’t include the -word
- SEO services -expensive (will bring you results that does NOT include the term “expensive” because you minus-ed it)
Advanced Operators (Updated Version)
* Wildcard operator = Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Example: “a * saved is a * earned” basically think of it as “fill in the gaps” because that’s what Google does when you use the wildcard operator, it helps you fill in the gaps if you are not sure about a particular search.
- Imagine that we used the wildcard character along these lines “Yahoo has been going * hill”. And now imagine that there are 1000 web documents containing those terms in that order, and now imagine that 200 of those documents contain these words “Yahoo has been going down hill”. Google will fill in that gab when you use the * wildcard operator.
- The wildcard operator *. Use an asterisk at the end of a search term as a placeholder for unknown or wildcard terms. The wildcard operator is only supported at the end of a search term. For example, invit* returns both invitation and invite.
When you search Google by wrapping your keywords inside double quotes, you are telling Google “hey Google, go fetch me results from your database, but make sure you bring me results that include the words that I typed in double quotes.
- seo “expert” google (hey Google make sure your search results includes the word expert)
- “SEO specialist” google (hey Google make sure your search results includes the words SEO Specialist)
Video Lesson Showing Simplified Version
Refined Search Query Syntax
One of the most confusing parts of refined search queries are the part where you attach the ALL in front of some advanced search terms. Because how can intext: and allintext: and also intitle: or allintitle: be the same search query? It isn’t, but what’s the difference?
As you can see in the images, when you use the allinurl: what you are basically telling Google is to look for ALL of the terms in that specified part only.
- allintext:rankya seo blog
Above example will bring you results that contain ALL of the keywords ONLY in the body text of a web document. Whereas if you searched
- intext:rankya seo blog
Without the ALL part, Google could bring you results containing only some of those terms in the body text and perhaps some from the title of a web document, make sense?
Basically, you are explicitly telling Google where to look and only where you tell it to look when you include the ALL portion in your search syntax.
Where Else Can We Tell Google to Look?
Now we are clear about the difference between allintext: and intext: just remember that same is true with all the other search queries that has the “all” option in front like these:
allintext: intext: searches for string of text within a web document google has indexed
allintitle: intitle: looks for the search terms within the title element of a web document
allinurl: inurl: looks for the search terms within the URL portion of a web document
allinanchor: inanchor: looks for the search terms within the anchor text of a hyperlink
Most Useful Advanced Search Operators
define: is used like a dictionary to define words
- define search engine optimization
cache: this will give you cache of a web document as stored by Google (remember, when you search Google, you aren’t searching the internet, but rather, you are searching Google’s version of the internet as stored in its cache servers) (this search now has to be conducted through the address bar)
related: what Google thinks as to related to the URL you specify
info: (note that id: will also give you the same results) information regarding a website as known to Google
site: what resources Google has indexed from a top level domain
filetype: ext: use these advanced search operator to specify the file type you are looking for, or the file extension such as .txt .psd
- filetype:pdf “search engine optimization”
- ext:txt “search engine optimization”
True power of Google advanced search query syntax is within your ability to understand the basic constructs and what they do, and then combine them together to find whatever you want quickly. You can also find other advanced search operators here.
Punctuation and Symbols Simplified
|Symbol||How to use it|
||Search for Google+ pages or blood types
||Find social tags
||Find popular hashtags for trending topics
||When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that info from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
||When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
||Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms.
||Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range.
Updates: Depreciated Search Operators
If you saw the below symbols on other websites, or tried to use them with no success
- ~ tilde operator is no longer supported
- link: operator doesn’t bring you any results for link data for a site
Then keep in mind that many years ago you could use these in your search, however, in 2017 the tilde and link operators don’t work as they are depreciated. If you know of other search queries or have updates, simply comment using the form below.