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How to Leverage Google Search Commands for SEO Analysis

Google search is not just suitable for ordinary searches about services, information or products, but it can also be very helpful in supporting SEOs in their day-to-day activities.

Search operators play an important role in this process. These elements allow you to perfectly tailor Google search results to meet your needs and save you a lot of time. We'll show you the most important Google search commands for SEOs and when you can best use them.

What are search operators?

For most users, Google search consists of the search bar in which words or phrases are entered. However, Google offers the possibility to optimize or refine the search results with the help of "symbols" or "words", search operators or search commands, right from the start.

A search operator is a character or a combination of characters that represent specific commands that Google should perform on your behalf. The primary benefit of using search operators is simply the time saved, because you don't have to filter long search results, and you can narrow down the search according to your requirements with the help of the operators.

Secondly, the search commands allow you to perform functions that go above and beyond the classic search. Google therefore changes from a pure search engine to a free and practical SEO tool.

The search commands can also be used for Google's vertical search engines, such as image search, news search or video search.

The most important Google search operators for SEOs and their applications

Domain Search operator What are the intended uses?
Site-query site: You can use a site query to quickly check how many URLs a website has in the Google index. From the indexed pages you can estimate how well your website is already represented there. You can also use the site operator if you are searching for particular domains.
Phrase search If a search term is placed in quotation marks, Google searches for exactly this word combination. The phrase search is ideal for finding plagiarisms of your own website. You can also use the phrase search to look for quotations or to check whether the content you have created is too similar to other pages. At the same time, the phrase search is yet another way to verify whether one of your URLs is indexed on Google or not.
Cache Requestcache: The search command tells you when the last image of the searched URL was made. If the cache of the URL is somewhat older, this can be an indication that the Googlebot has not crawled this page for a long time.
Search by file type filetype: This search operator helps you to search the web for certain file types. This can be helpful for content creation, for example when you're looking for serious content on a topic. You can also use the search operator to check the PDFs of your website that have been indexed.
Place holder (Wildcard) *A Google search using wildcards is a good idea if you need inspiration for a topic search. The wildcard search is already being performed by Google-Autocomplete
Exclude search terms If you put a minus sign in front of a search term, Google excludes this term from the search. This search operator is useful if you are searching for terms that are spelled the same but have a different meaning (=homonyms). A classic for these terms is "bank" (seat vs. financial institution).
Include search terms + If you are looking for sources for a new blog post or other content, you can use this search command to specify the exact keywords on which the search result should be based.
Search Social Networks @ With the @-sign you can search social networks. The search operator is very useful if, for example, you want to analyze current debates or buzzwords in social networks like Twitter or Facebook in order to run a social media campaign. You can add a hash tag to the keyword.
Display of Search Results Containing Content Specific Words allintext: oder intext: If you are looking for websites with text that should contain several specific keywords, use the search operator "allintext:". The command "intext:" is sufficient if the content of the target page has to contain only one term.
Display of search results where URLs contain certain words allinurl: oder inurl: If you want to search for URLs that contain several specific keywords, you can use the operator "allinurl:". If the URL is only to contain one keyword, you can search with "inurl:".
Show Search Results for Titles Containing Certain Words allintitle: oder intitle: If you want to find out which URLs use the same keywords within the page title, then the search operator "allintitle:" can help. If you only want to find web pages with a certain keyword in the title, the search command "intitle:" is adequate.
Searching for Definitions define: This Google search operator is ideal for searching for definitions while searching for new content. Moreover, you can use this search command if you're looking for definitions that aren't already displayed in the Google Knowledge Graph.
Finding similar websites related: This is a very useful search operator when it comes to analyzing the competition. With the help of this information you can find similar sites and therefore also potential competitors.

Combine Google Search Operators

You can also combine popular Google search commands. These function just like a specialized filter for the search results. There are countless possible combinations. We recommend that you try out a few combinations.

Here are three examples:

1. Search Your Own Page for Unnecessary Files

site: [yourpage.com] + filetype:.pdf -inurl:[Keyword]

Using this combination of three search operators, you can search for unnecessary text files on your domain. Of course, this also works for PDF and other types of files.


Figure 1: In this case, the bbc could "clean up" and detect PDFs that are no longer needed.

2. Search Websites with Guest Posts

~[Keyword] inurl:guestpost


~[Keyword] inurl:guestauthor

This combination of operators ultimately shows you websites on marketing or similar topics that publish guest posts or even have their own URL for guest posts. This creates opportunities for the publication of guest contributions.


Figure 2: Example for the combination "keyword"/inurl

3. Search for URLs of your domain that have not yet been changed to https

site: [yourpage.com] -inurl:https

By doing this, Google will immediately show you all URLs that are not yet encrypted.


Figure 3: Using Google search operators, we can see that even the "big players" still need optimization, etc.

Save time and harness new potential

By using Google search commands more often, you will learn to appreciate them more and more. Not only can you save a lot of time with these "filters" when researching new content or analyzing competitors, but at the same time the combinations of different operators enable you to recognize new optimization potential or discover errors.

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Published on Oct 15, 2018 by Philipp Roos