• Article

Google search operators and search commands

  • September 27, 2022
  • 7 min

Searching with Google is easy. You just have to type in keywords and immediately find what you’re looking for, right? – In a sense, yes.
But if the search is a bit more specific, for example with a niche or a technical topic related to a term or a specific URL, the usual keyword search is often no longer enough.

What are Google search operators?

Search operators are a series of characters and commands that serve to narrow down the results of the search you perform. Some of them include characters such as punctuation, which Google always ignores when they do not belong to a specific operator.

They are similar to added filters, only that to be in the options you see under the Google search bar when it shows you results, you have to include them in the search itself, accompanying the term you want to find. There are even some that serve as a link to be able to use more than one at a time.

Google search operators (GSOs) grouped into the following categories:

  • Punctuation-based search operators.
  • Boolean search operators.
  • Advanced search operators.
  • Perhaps you simply want to find an exact phrase or convert one unit of measure to another. There are special search operators for these and many other functions.

What are advanced search operators?

Advanced search operators, also called Google search commands, open up a whole new category of possibilities according to this principle.

These are terms and commands that can be added to a search query and drastically change it. In some cases, they require additional parameters or URLs to be added to the query.

They are usually used to narrow down the search results or to reveal certain information that would not appear in a normal query.

Google search commands can be combined with search operators to get even more targeted search results.

An example of combining a Google search command with a Google search operator:

Google search operators for technical SEO

There are a number of Google search commands that can help you perform technical domain audits individually or in combination.

By applying specific search syntax, you can analyse website issues in even greater depth.

Below are some examples of how you can use Google’s advanced search operators for your technical SEO:

1. Check the indexing of the domain URL using Google

Site:domainname.com  

With this operator you can quickly retrieve results from a specific domain. You will also see the number of available results for that domain, which can be especially useful for large websites.

The query also shows the URLs found. If a result appears that should not show up in Google, you can find ways to fix the problem.

2. Remove subdomains from Google searches

If you want to do the opposite and remove subdomains from your search, you can use a different Google search provider.

Site:domainname.de -inurl:subdomainkeyword

This search command looks for a domain but uses the exception operator “-” in combination with the operator “inurl:” to remove all URLs containing a certain keyword.

These could be keywords such as “dev” or “staging”, for example. But it allows you to remove all sections of a website from search results that you don’t want to see, such as a particular category or subdomain.

3. Check the latest cache of your domain or URL

cache:apple.com

With the cache search engine, you can get the latest copy that Google has of a particular domain or URL.

Cache

This can be useful to make sure that Google is indexing your site, and to check if its latest updates have already been cached.

This query will give you a copy of the page currently stored by Google, indicating the time of collection.

Google search operators in content marketing

Google search is often the first point of contact for content marketers who want to do research.

Whether it’s finding inspiration for content, observing competitors or checking your own domain, a number of search operators can be useful for your content marketing research.

Many content marketers are unaware of these basic search operators. This gives them a handy way of identifying problems and opportunities.

1. “” narrow  down””

Keyword quotes are one of Google’s most basic search operators. It allows you to force Google to display only pages where an exact match with a word or phrase has been found in quotes.

Keyword 1 “Phrase 1”

Words in inverted commas should appear in the exact order and spelling in which you type them.

2. Logical operator OR (or)

This displays results containing one or the other keyword in a normal search for pages where both occur.

OR search operator

This works best if the two keywords do not appear together too often.

Keyword 1 OR Keyword 2

Grouping, prioritising or linking terms with brackets

Use brackets to group terms that you want to prioritise or find in conjunction with another term.

1. ( ) Search operator

This extends the boolean search operator OR and shows articles related to keyword 1 and keyword 3 OR keyword 2 and keyword 3.

A normal search query for all three keywords limits the range of results, as Google prioritises results that contain all three keywords by default.

(Keyword 1 OR Keyword 2) Keyword 3

2. – Search operator

Keyword 1 -Keyword 2 -Keyword 3 -Keyword 4

This excludes terms that should not appear in the search results.

You can also combine this method with quotes to remove exact phrases.

3. Use placeholders to find variant phrases

Suppose your two keywords are often mentioned together, but there might be an ‘or’, an ‘and’ or something else in between.

If you ensure an exact match, you can skip matching results if there is another word between your keywords. You can use the * function to find all matching variants while the keywords are included in the desired order and phrase.

4. AROUND(X)

With AROUND(X) you can determine how fuzzy your search should be. Use a number for X to find pages where two keywords are mentioned in a sequence of that number of words.

For example, if the AROUND(4) function, you will get pages as results where keyword 1 and keyword 2 appear within 4 words of each other in the text.

In this way, you will find pages where ‘football’ and ‘gear’ are mentioned up to 3 words apart.

This can be combined with a phrase search to find even longer phrases that appear in the text at a certain maximum distance from each other.

Amongst other things, there are many other search operators

Google Drive search operators

Here’s a selection of search operators for Google Drive. A full list of Google search operators, including those that work with multiple tools, can be found below.

Search operatorWhat it does
type:Search the memory for files of a specific format
owner:Search the memory for files and folders of a specific owner
after:Search Google Drive or Gmail for files or emails edited or sent/received after a specific date
before:Search Google Drive or Gmail for files or emails that were edited or sent/received before a specific date.
to:Search the storage for files that have been shared with a specific person
title:Search the storage for files with a specific keyword in the title.
source:domainSearch the memory for files or folders that are shared with everyone in your organization
is:trashedSearch the Trash of the storage
is:starredSearch the storage for files that have been starred

Google Maps operator search

Below is a selection of search operators for Google Maps:

Search operatorWhat it does
nearAn alternative to clicking on the ” Near ” icon to find specific offers near a previously searched location.
“Business type”E.g. Café, Restaurant, Bar etc. Finds a selection of corresponding offers in the closer vicinity

Full list of Google search operators

Search operatorWhat it does
“ ”Allows searching for a specific phrase – exact phrase search. Synonyms are not found
ORBoolean search function for OR-searches, because Google uses AND between words by default – input in capital letters
| Inserts an OR (or)
()Allows grouping of operators and setting the order
Excludes a word from the results
*Acts as a placeholder for any words or phrases
#..#Stands for a number in this case. This can be used to find numbers in a row.
$Enables the search for USD
Enables the search for Euro
inEnables the query of conversions (currency, unit or measurement unit)
~Prefix – include synonyms (possibly discarded)
+Prefix – force exact match with a given search term
daterange:Find results in a specified date range (requires Julian dates).
link:Finds pages that link to a specific target domain
inanchor:Finds pages referenced by the specified anchor text. Only random data.
allinanchor:Finds pages with all terms specified after “inanchor:” Anchor text of incoming links
inposttile:Finds pages with the specified keywords in their post titles (e.g. for research in blogs).
define:Gets a dictionary definition of the word or phrase
cache:Outputs the current cache of an indexed web page
filetype:Finds files of a certain type associated with the searched keyword
ext:As above, based on the extension
site:Finds only pages from the specified website
related:Finds similar domains to the queried domain
intitle:Finds pages with the entered search term in the title
allintitle:Similar to intitle:, but finds only pages where all specified words appear in the title
inurl:Finds pages where the queried keywords occur in the URL
allinurl:As above, where all specified words must appear in the URL
intext:Finds pages where the keywords appear in the page content
allintext:Similar to “intext:”, where only pages containing all specified words in the text are included
AROUND(X) This operator appears between two words. The X indicates the maximum number of words distance between these words. For example, if it is a (4), the two keywords must be mentioned in a distance of maximum 4 words from each other on the found pages.
weather:Gets the highlighted snippet for the weather report at the entered location
stocks:Gets stock information for the specified ticker
map:Forces Google Map results for a specific query
movie:Finds information for the specified movie (especially useful if the movie has an ambiguous name). If the movie is still playing in theaters, the current playing times are also output
source:Use in Google News, finds pages from the specified source.
_Acts as a placeholder for auto-completion
blogurl:Finds blog URLs under a specific domain. Used in Google blog search, but I found that it also returns some results in regular search.
loc:Finds results for a specific location
location:As above, but for Google News
info:Outputs information about a domain (pages with domain text, similar on-site pages, cache, etc.)
nearAn alternative to clicking on the “Near” icon to find specific offers near a previously searched location
Business type E.g. Café, Restaurant, Bar etc. Finds a selection of corresponding offers in the vicinity
TankstelleGas station near is issued
from:Search for emails from a specific sender
type:Search the memory for files of a specific format
owner:Search the memory for files and folders of a specific owner
after:Search Google Drive or Gmail for files or emails edited or sent/received after a specific date
before:Search Google Drive or Gmail for files or emails that were edited or sent/received before a specific date.
to:Search the storage for files that have been shared with a specific person
title:Search the storage for files with a specific keyword in the title.
source:domainSearch the memory for files or folders that are shared with everyone in your organization
is:trashedSearch the Trash of the storage
is:starredSearch the storage for files that have been starred
to:Search for emails to a specific recipient
cc:Search for emails with a specific recipient of a copy
bcc:Search for emails with a specific recipient of a blind copy
subject:Search for emails with specific keywords in the subject line
{}Use for emails instead of OR
AROUNDFinds keywords appearing at a certain distance from each other like the corresponding function in Google search
label:Search for emails with a specific label
has:attachment Search for emails with attachment
has:driveSearch for emails with Google Drive attachment
has:documentSearch for emails with a Google Doc attached
has:spreadsheet Search for emails with a Google spreadsheet attached
has:presentation Search for emails with a Google presentation attached
has:youtubeSearch for emails with YouTube video
list:Search for all emails from a specific mailing list
filename:Search for emails with a specific file type or file name in the attachment
in:anywhereIncludes all folders including spam and trash in the search
is:importantSearch for emails marked as important
is:snoozedSearch for emails that have been reset with the snooze function
is:unreadSearch for unread emails
is:readSearch for already read emails
has:yellow-starSearch for emails with colored star icon
has:blue-infoSearch for emails with colored icon
older:Search for emails sent before a specified date
newer:Search for emails sent after a specified date
is:chatSearch for chat messages
deliveredto:Search for emails delivered to specific addresses
category:Search for emails of specific categories. The category name follows the colon, e.g. category:primary
size:Search for emails with a certain minimum size in bytes
larger:Search for emails with a certain minimum size in bytes
smaller:Search for emails with a specified maximum size in bytes
has:userlabelsSearch for emails with certain custom labels
has:nouserlabelsSearch for emails without custom labels

Сonclusion 

Overall, Google search operators are incredibly useful tools. With their simple syntax and logical operators, they provide you with detailed information for technical audits, content marketing research and link building.

It’s worth simply trying different combinations of operators to see what’s most useful for you. 

Try Google search commands and be surprised at what you can find out about your own domain or that of a competitor.


Rush Analytics
Views
669
Rating
0,0/5
Rate
Comments
0
Comment
Rate this article Rating anonymous
Add a comment

Other articles

Back to blog

Get 7 days free trial access to all tools.

Pick the right keywords from Google, YouTube and Yandex suggestions

Free Trial