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 = (any character before or after) basically think of it as “fill in the gaps” because that’s what it does: helps you fill in the gaps if you are not sure about a particular search. Example search queries and their meaning:
- 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. (a wildcard character can be used to substitute for any other character or characters in a string)
- Imagine that 1 million web documents have the terms “learn to be a web developer” and when you search using the wildcard operator like this “learn to be a web deve*” Google will work out the rest of your search query when you use the * wildcard operator and return results by substituting characters because of you using the * operator.
“quoted words” = when you search Google by wrapping your keywords inside quotes, you are telling Google “hey Google, go fetch me results from your database, but make sure you bring me results that include all of my words within the quotes exactly in the order I type them in. Useful when you are attending to keyword research for identifying long tailed keywords. For example (notice the quotes):
- seo “expert” google
- “for Google * operator” (notice the power of the Google search operators, because you can combine many of them as you construct your search query, in this example the wildcard operator is used within the quoted search query)
- “google seo * services” (first consider exactly what it is that you want to find using Google advanced search query syntax.)
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.
I thank you for learning with me, and if you found this post to be of use, please share it with others
2016 Updates: Depreciated Search Operators
- ~ tilde operator is no longer supported
- link: operator doesn’t bring you any results for link data for a site
- + usage of the plus sign has changed due to Google+ (instead wrap your keyword in double quotes as explained above)
Know of any advanced operator that’s useful or depreciated? Please leave your comments below