Google Search Operators

Search operators stem from the early days of search engines and at that time were essential in order to obtain meaningful results. Today, they are mostly replaced by automatic detection, especially in the case of Google. Nevertheless, some search operators still provide practical assistance for users to achieve better and more accurate results. They are used mostly in a search query.

The basic Google search operators[edit]

The basic operators consist of individual characters that are each set at the beginning and the end of the desired keyword or keyword combination.

  • +: With the plus symbol you can combine several concepts. Previously this was the only way to tell the search engine all words should be looked for in combination. Nowadays, you use a space instead, but the method with the plus symbol as a link still works as well. An example of this search operator would be “SEO+search+operator.”
  • -: You can exclude certain keywords with the minus symbol. For example, if you enter “SEO -search-operator” into the Google search field, you only get results, which relate to SEO. The keyword “search operators” is filtered out. The combination of minus symbol and the search word that is to be excluded must be clearly distinguished from the other search terms with a space.
  • ' ... ': If you have a query that consists of at least two terms, such as “search operators,” you can place the keyword combination in quotes. Consequently, the terms you entered will be no more than ten words apart in the results. If there are websites where this is not the case, they will not appear in the search results.
  • *: The star, which is also called the “wildcard search,” can replace a keyword that is not yet known at the time of the query. If you enter, “SEO *" a, result suggestion by frequently searched term combinations are listed in Google containing the keyword SEO. This process is, however, nowadays mostly replaced by the extension Google Suggest (also Google autocomplete). Thus, popular keywords or combinations appear automatically as you type in the search word.

Advanced Google Search Operators[edit]

  • site: An example of such a search operator is: “SEO”. It this is entered; the Google search results will be limited to a particular TLD. In the above example, only sites which include the extension “.org” and the keyword SEO will be shown in the results. Another possible application is to restrict the search to a domain. If you enter “SEO” in the search bar, only results that contain the keyword SEO and are located on any page of the domain will be displayed.
  • info: If a user types in “info:”, a large amount of information about the entered website will be displayed. This includes the website cache, similar sites, or web pages that contain a link to the entered page in the text area.
  • filetype: If you search at Google for “filetype:pdf SEO”, for example, it will display all PDF files that contain the parameter SEO.
  • intitle: If you specify in the Google search box, for example, “intitle:Munich”, then the Internet is searched only for documents that contain the word “Munich” in their title.

Relevance to SEO[edit]

You can get specific information about various websites by using search operators for the purpose of search engine optimization. Furthermore, users have the option to combine search operators to make the search more efficient. For example, you can search for “SEO Munich -nofollow intitle:search operator”, which would exclude pages, whose links are devalued with the “nofollow” tag and you will get only pages whose title contain the term “search operators”.