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Google Search Operators: 40 Commands to Know in 2021 (Improve Research, Competitive Analysis, and SEO)

Google search operators make searching for things online so much better.

Once you’ve mastered just a few of these special commands, you’ll wonder how you even managed without them.

In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the best Google advanced search operators (that actually work) and show you how to use them effectively.

What Are Google Search Operators?

Google search operators (sometimes called Google advanced search operators or Google search commands) are special commands that extend the capabilities of regular text searches on Google.

Search operators help you narrow down search results and they can be useful for everything from content research, to finding online discussion to technical SEO audits.

They can also be used with other search engines like Bing and Yahoo too.

Just like Gmail search operators, using Google search operators help you find exactly what you are looking for in everyone’s favorite search engine.

They range from basic definitions like this:

An example of the definition function using Google Search Operators

An example of the definition function using Google Search Operators

To finding advanced indexation issues with websites:

Example of an Advanced Google Search Operator to find not secure site pages

Example of an Advanced Google Search Operator to find not secure site pages

Why Use Google Search Commands?

According to Internet Live Stats, 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day. That’s a lot of search results to go through to find the information you want.

Live stats for Google searches

Live stats for Google searches

Apart from showing off your search skills: using search commands make it faster to find things in Google.

Google has a 92.71% worldwide market share as of October 2020. That’s a lot of searches to go through to find what you want.

Search Engine Market Share statistics

Search Engine Market Share statistics

Google search operators are there to make your life easier by refining web searches. So, how do you use these magic Google cheat codes to find web pages fast?

It’s pretty simple actually:

How Do I Use Google Search Operators?

It’s as simple as searching for something on Google. You can enter search operators directly into the Google search box just as you would a text search:

Using search operators is as simple as doing Google search

Using search operators is as simple as doing Google search

Except in special cases (such as the “in” operator), Google will return standard organic results.

You can use symbols and/or words in your search terms in order to make your results more accurate.

Just remember:

  • Google typically ignores any punctuation (that isn’t part of a search operator).
  • Don’t include spaces between the symbol or word and your search term. Using this search command site:kinsta.com will work, but this site: kinsta.com won’t.

Google Search Operators List

Here is a complete list of all working Google advanced search operators:

  • “search term” Use this to do an exact-match search.
  • Exclude a term or search phrase.
  • * Acts as a wildcard and will match any word or phrase.
  • ( ) Groups multiple terms or operators to control how the search is shown.
  • define: Displays the meaning of a word in a card-like result.
  • Cache: Returns the most recent cached version of a web page (as long as the page is indexed).
  • filetype: Shows results of a certain filetype (PDF, DOCX, TXT, PPT, etc.)
  • site: Limit results to a specific website.
  • related: Find sites related to another site.
  • intitle: Find pages that contain a specific word in the title.
  • allintitle: Similar to “intitle,” this finds web pages containing all of the specific words in the page title.
  • inurl: Finds pages with a certain word in the URL.
  • allinurl: Similar to “inurl,” this finds web pages containing all of the specific words in the URL.
  • intext: Finds pages containing a specific word in the content.
  • allintext: Finds results containing all of the specific words somewhere on the page.
  • AROUND(X) This proximity search finds pages containing two words (or phrases) within X words of each other.
  • weather: Finds the weather for a specific location.
  • stocks: See stock information
  • map: View map results for a location search.
  • movie: Finds information about a specific movie.
  • in Convert one unit into another (like currencies, weights, temperatures, etc.)
  • source: Find news results from a certain source within Google News.

How to Combine Google Search Operators

One of the most useful things about Google search operators is that you can combine them for really specific use cases.

You can quickly find the source of a quote, an original image, or even official documentation for (almost) anything.

Just a word of warning: if you start combining operators and running lots of searches, you may be prompted to prove you are not an evil robot trying to spam Google:

You'll probably see this Google reCAPTCHA if you use too many operators

You’ll probably see this Google reCAPTCHA if you use too many operators

Just fill in the captcha (unless you are an evil robot) and then continue with your searching.

Use your imagination, there are loads of search operator combinations. Here are just a few examples of combined search commands to take inspiration from.

40 Advanced Google Search Operators

Knowing the different parts that make up a search operator is useful to know, but having some specific uses is more useful.

So let’s put these Google search operators into action. You can achieve pretty much anything with Google advanced operators with some imagination (and some trial and error).

Don’t be afraid to play around either and edit the examples below. You might just discover a cool new search command.

Let’s go:

1. Find related sites

related:[website]

Let’s say you’ve found a site that you want a link from or maybe you are just wanting to collect as many similar sites for some competitor research. Using the related: search operator will show you similar sites related to the URL you add.

Find a bunch of link prospects related to your keyword

Find a bunch of link prospects related to your keyword

It’s as simple as that.

2. Find Pages to Add Internal Links

Site:[website] keyword

This is one of my favorite ways to help improve WordPress SEO. And thanks to Google search operators, it’s pretty quick to do.

Internal links help visitors and Google move around your site. But to get any benefit from them, you need to be adding them to relevant pages.

This is where Google operators make this easy.

Simply search your site along with a word or phrase and Google will show you relevant pages you can internal link to and from.

Find internal link opportunities with the site: search operator (+ a keyword)

Find internal link opportunities with the site: search operator

Now you can just go into those pages and add an internal link. UX improved as well as your chances to score sitelinks. Not bad, uh?

3. Search Content on a Specific Site (And Find Any Indexation Errors)

site:[website]

You can use the site: operator for finding something from a specific website and limit your search to that single site. For example, you may use it to find the contact page or link opportunities of a specific site.

Or you can find specific content by using this operator:

Site:[website] “keyword”

This will show you any pages on the website you’ve searched that contain the keyword you’ve added.

Find exact match content on your site

Find exact match content on your site

This can be a great way to find pages to add internal links to (so you drive more traffic to your website).

You can also use this Google search operator for finding any indexation errors. It could be that a page that you want Google to index is not showing up. Or vice-versa, you may discover pages you don’t want to be indexed are showing up (and you might need to keep them private).

Say you check how many of your blog posts are showing up in Google with this operator:

site:yourwebsite.com/blog

Find indexed blog posts in Google super quick

Find indexed blog posts in Google super quick

You see that 19 pages are indexed but know that you have published 50 posts… then that would be a good enough reason to go investigate what is happening to the other (non-indexed) articles.

Just keep in mind that using this method to assess Google indexation is only a very rough estimate. For more accurate results, check out Google Search Console.

4. Find Exact Matches

"[search term]"

If you put quotation marks around a word or phrase, the search results will only contain results that match exactly the word or phrase in the quotes.

Find pages that that match exactly your keyword

Find pages that that match exactly your keyword

You can take advantage of this operator to uncover guest post opportunities by using:

  • “write for us”
  • “become a contributor”
  • “contribute to”
  • “write for me”
  • “guest post guidelines”

And you could even go a step further and combine the exact match operator with the site: operator to search a specific website for exact text. This is great for finding duplicate content.

5. Exclude Specific Words or Phrases

-[keyword]

In this Google search operator, the minus sign is used before the search term to remove a particular keyword from the search results. It’s helpful when you’re looking for something that has more than one meaning and you want to exclude the other meaning.

It’s also useful if you want to remove some branded search results. You can exclude multiple keywords as well.

6. Include Specific Words or Phrases

keyword1 +keyword2

If you want to make sure that some of the keywords are definitely included in every search result, you can use the + operator before that certain word. This is useful if you’re specifically searching within a niche topic.

7. Return the cached version of a page

cache:[website]

Using the cache: Google search operator will return the most recently cached version of the webpage available on Google. This may be useful if a site is down and you still want to read something on it.

Just remember, the cached version probably won’t look as good as the live website:

Quickly view the cached version of a webpage

Quickly view the cached version of a webpage

inurl:[keyword]

The inurl: operator followed by a keyword lists all search results that include the keyword somewhere in their URL. This can be helpful when finding guest post opportunities, contact pages, or potential direct competitors.

Examples you could try:

  • inurl:guest-post
  • Inurl:guest-contributor-guidelines

Try this search operator keyword inurl:guestpost to find sites that accept guest posts (probably) that are related to the keyword you’ve searched.

Find guest post opportunities related to your niche

Find guest post opportunities related to your niche

It doesn’t matter where you place your keyword (before vs after the search operator):

Find potential sites to publish guest posts on (in this examples, sites related to cycling)

Find potential sites to publish guest posts on

9. Find Keywords in Page Titles

intitle:

The intitle: Google operator shows results that have the specified keyword or phrase within the page title.

Like all search operators, you can chain together most operators to get custom results.

For example, you could do an exact search for “mountain bike” and combine it with the intitle: operator to show only pages that contain “2020” in their page title.

Find results that contain the keywords you define

Find results that contain the keywords you define

Pretty useful for finding up-to-date product guides.

10. Find Exact Keywords in Page Titles

allintitle:

Similar to intitle: but more specific. If you start your query with allintitle: Google will only show results containing all the terms in the page title you specify.

For example, using the command allintitle:pizza is amazing will only show results that contain the terms “pizza is amazing” in the title.

Find results which EXACTLY match your keywords

Find results that exactly match your keywords

Don’t forget it’s not just Google search where this operator works:

  • In Image Search allintitle: will show images where the filename contains the terms you specify.
  • In Google News allintitle: will show articles where the titles include the terms you specify.

11. Find Keywords Inside Page Text

intext:

Similar to the previous operators, the Google search operator intext: will show any results that contain the keyword you specify inside the text of the page.

So if you’re looking for articles on specific subjects, this operator can help refine your search.

12. Find Exact Keywords Inside Page Text

allintext:

The allintext: operator will help you find entire phrases or keywords in the page text.

Say you know you mentioned a term or phrase in an article but can’t remember which article. Use this operator to check.

For example, let’s say we know we’ve mentioned ‘Traffic comparisons for WordPress sites…’ on the blog before, but we can’t remember where.

(Hint: we do in our what does SEO stand for article)

The allintext operator would uncover this phrase in the text for us:

Find any phrases used across a domain

Find any phrases used across a domain

13. Find Keywords Inside Anchor Texts

inanchor:

This operator is pretty useful for SEO. The inanchor: search operator shows pages that have the keyword you’ve specified in the anchor text.

Find keywords inside anchor texts

Find keywords inside anchor texts

14. Find Exact Keywords Inside Anchor Texts

allinanchor:

The allinanchor: Google search operator shows entire keywords/phrases in anchor text:

To be honest, you’ll probably end up using this operator more than the regular inanchor: command as it’s more accurate.

15. Find Keywords Within URLs

inurl:

The inurl: operator will show you results that contain the keyword you specify somewhere in the URL.

Useful for trying to remember that URL you forgot or finding pages that are about specific topics.

16. Find Exact Keywords Within URLs

allinurl:

Like the previous operator, this shows keywords that appear in URLs. Only this time it will show the entire keyword or phrase you have specified.

Find exact keywords inside of URLs

Find exact keywords inside of URLs

17. Find Content Created by Specific Authors

postauthor:

This search operator helps you to quickly find content creators. Just drop in their name and you’ll be able to quickly find blog posts and articles written by them.

A great way to use this Google search operator is for finding influencers in your niche who may be open to sharing your work or contributing to your site. This could be especially helpful if you are doing any SaaS marketing.

You can also use it to find influencers to link to in your content to start building up some (mutually beneficial) relationships.

18. Search A Specific Location

loc:

The loc: operator (with a specific location) will help focus your results down to that area.

If you’re doing local SEO, this location-based Google search operator can be your new best friend for finding an audience that’s in one geographic place.

19. Exclude Any Subdomains

site: [website.com] -inurl:www

This combo of two operators site: + -inurl: helps to narrow down results so you can go through a site’s subdomains.

Exclude any subdomains from showing in Google

Exclude any subdomains from showing in Google

This search command filters out the www subdomain. Anything that begins with www will be excluded from the results, leaving you with the subdomains to check out.

filetype:[extension]

The filetype: operator helps you find a target page with a particular file extension. Google will return only results of a specific type of file that you define. It’s extremely useful when you want to find PDF or PPT files.

21. List Search Results That Comply With One Of The Conditions

keyword/condition1 OR keyword/condition2

The OR search operator allows you to search for search results that meet one of two conditions.

Simply write two search operators and put the OR command in capital letters between them. This tells Google to show results that satisfy either the first or the second condition. You can also use the pipe symbol | instead of OR.

22. Add a “Fill in the Blank” Option

keyword1 * keyword2

If you want to get more matches, you can use the asterisk * wildcard operator. Put the wildcard in a phrase and you’ll get all the variations of that phrase. It’s useful for finding quotes and phrases.

Example: digital * strategy

Add a 'fill-in-the-blank- option with this search command

Add a ‘fill-in-the-blank- option with this search command

This will give results for various things that are surrounded by these two keywords like, digital marketing strategy, digital media strategy, and the like.

23. Find Words near Each Other

keyword1 AROUND(X) keyword2

With this Google search operator, you can get results where your search terms are close to each other. The AROUND(X) operator can be used to define the maximum distance between the two keywords. The X in the brackets is how many words at most can separate the two keywords.

It may be useful for finding quotes and sentences you don’t exactly remember.

24. Search Between Specific Dates

daterange:[XXXXX-XXXXX]

The daterange: operator will show search results within a range of dates that you specify. It is a bit tricky, because it uses the Julian date format, so you need to put the year followed by the number of days since the beginning of the year. Use an online converter to get the right date format!

Example:

daterange:2458881.34039-2459002.06315

25. Search Between Two Specific Years

[year1]..[year2]

There is an easier way to add date ranges than using the Julian date format. This Google search operator is typed as two dots and allows you to apply a year range filter for your searches.

Put two dots between two years and Google will only return search results that were published between those two years. It’s easier, but it doesn’t let you search for specific days as daterange: does.

Example:

2014..2018

26. Find Relevant Forum and Community Discussion Topics

Site:website.com intitle:keyword

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Relevant forums, subreddits, online communities, and Q+A sites (like Quora) are great places for promoting content.

You can quickly find discussions and questions being asked in your niche, and then go and join in.

How to find relevant forum and community discussion topics (based on a keyword of your choice)

How to find relevant forum and community discussion topics (based on a keyword of your choice)

Finding them is easy with Google search commands.

Try these:

  • Site:reddit.com intitle:keyword
  • Site:quora.com intitle:keyword
  • Site:niche-specific-forum.com intitle:keyword

27. Find PDF Downloads on .Gov Sites

[flu shot ext:pdf site:gov]

This is a good way to find documents to cite on any topic when doing online research.

How to find PDF downloads (on Government sites)

How to find PDF downloads (on Government sites)

28. Find Non-HTTPS Indexed Pages

Site:[website.com] -inurl:https

Having a secure website is essential these days. With a couple of operators, you can find non-HTTPS pages on your site that have been indexed.

Example of an Advanced Google Search Operator to find not secure site pages

How to Find Non-HTTPS Indexed Pages

Sometimes, when using this command, pages will be indexed without the HTTPS. But when you go and visit the actual page you will land on the HTTPS version.

Don’t just assume that your pages are not secure just because they show up for this search operator. Go double-check them.

However, if your page is showing up as not secure, go check your SSL certificate.

29. Find Pages That Mention a Word in the Text

[Jeff Bezos -intitle:Jeff -intitle:Bezos]

Sometimes we just need to find articles that mention a name or a concept without focusing on it.

How to find pages that mention a specific keyword within the text

How to find pages that mention a specific keyword within the text

30. Find An Organization’s Twitter Accounts

[site:twitter.com @nytimes -inurl:status -inurl:hashtag -inurl:lists]

Want to find Twitter accounts that represent a company or organization? Google can actually be more helpful than Twitter here.

If you were wondering how this operator works:

-inurl:status -inurl:hashtag -inurl:lists tells Google to exclude any Twitter lists, hashtags, and status updates from the search results.

This leaves only Twitter profiles containing your search term.

31. Search Multiple Sites at the Same Time

pizza site:tiktok.com OR site:vimeo.com OR site:youtube.com

Find yourself repeatedly searching the same sites?

This Google search operator lets you search them all in one shot.

32. Find Any Duplicate Content On Your Site

"[duplicate content you want to check]"

Duplicate content is bad for your site. Thankfully, it’s easy to check with this simple search operator.

Just wrap the text you want to check inside quotation marks and Google will show you any pages matching it.

You never know, you may find people stealing and republishing your content without permission or attribution.

33. Find Any Unwanted Files or Pages on Your Website

filetype:pdf seo

It is easy to lose track and forget about pages and files like PDFs, Word docs, and slideshows you may have uploaded to your site.

Using the filetype: search operator you can specify a file type and then search your site (or the whole web) for a keyword and the results will show the files that match.

What File Types Do Google Search Operators Support?

I’m glad you asked. Here is a list of the supported formats:

  • Adobe Flash (.swf)
  • Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Adobe PostScript (.ps)
  • Autodesk Design Web Format (.dwf)
  • Google Earth (.kml, .kmz)
  • GPS eXchange Format (.gpx)
  • Hancom Hanword (.hwp)
  • HTML (.htm, .html, other file extensions)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
  • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
  • OpenOffice presentation (.odp)
  • OpenOffice spreadsheet (.ods)
  • OpenOffice text (.odt)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg)
  • TeX/LaTeX (.tex)
  • Text (.txt, .text, other file extensions)
  • Basic source code (.bas)
  • C/C++ source code (.c, .cc, .cpp, .cxx, .h, .hpp)
  • C# source code (.cs)
  • Java source code (.java)
  • Perl source code (.pl)
  • Python source code (.py)
  • Wireless Markup Language (.wml, .wap)
  • XML (.xml)

34. Find Niche Relevant Resource Page Link Opportunities

inurl:resources intitle:resources mountain bike

Resource pages are round-ups of the best resources on a specific topic.

They range from more structured pages like our Resource Center page):

Our WP resources page

Our WP resources page

To more simple (but still useful) pages like this:

An example of a resource page (related to mountain biking) found using this search operator

An example of a resource page (related to mountain biking) found using this search operator

Resource pages can be great places to get listed on, providing you have a relevant and useful resource to contribute.

Have a play around with these search operators and see what you find:

  • [topic] intitle:resources | inurl: resources
  • Intitle:[topic] AND intitle:resources AND inurl:resources
  • Allintitle:[topic] 5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|15 resources

Once you’ve found them, it’d a matter of finding the site admin’s email address and reach out asking for your link to be included.

35. Find Sites to Pitch Your Feature Infographics To

[topic] intitle:infographic inurl:infographic

Infographics can be a great visual asset to create for your site. But creating them is only half the battle, you need to distribute them too.

Using this operator to find sites that may be interested in featuring your infographic.

Some sites to potentially submit your (pizza-related_ infographics to

Some sites to potentially submit your pizza-related infographics to

36. Find Social Profiles for Outreach

[name] site:twitter.com | site:facebook.com | site:linkedin.com

Want to reach out to a specific person on social media? Or maybe you want to do some digging and see if you can find their contact details.

Use this search operator to find them. You’ll need to know their name obviously for this to work.

You can then contact them directly via social media and start building relationships.

37. Find Sites That Mention Your Competitors (But Not You)

intext:[competitor] OR intext:[competitor] -site:website.com -site:website.com

Using this combination of site: and intext: and OR you can see sites that have mentioned competitors… but not you.

Play around with the Google search operators here to find pages that are talking about sites you are competing with, but not your site.

Let’s say you find a page that mentions a competitor, but it doesn’t mention you. A quick action item would be to reach out and ask to be included.

38. Find Opportunities for Sponsored Posts

[topic] intext:"this is a sponsored post by"

Sponsored posts are posts you pay to be featured in that promote your website, brand, product, or service. The approach is pretty similar to finding guest post opportunities:

Quickly find sponsored post opportunities related to your niche

Quickly find sponsored post opportunities related to your niche

Here are a few ways to find sponsored post opportunities using Google search operators:

  • sponsored post results
  • [topic] intext:”this is a sponsored post by”
  • [topic] intext:”this post was sponsored by”
  • [topic] intitle:”sponsored post”
  • [topic] intitle:”sponsored post archives” inurl:”category/sponsored-post”
  • “sponsored” AROUND(3) “post”

39. Find How Often Competing Sites Are Publishing New Content

site:[website} (+ some filtering in Google)

Most blogs live inside either a subfolder or on a subdomain:

To see how often a website is publishing content:

  1. Do a site: search for subfolder or subdomain where the content is
  2. Go to Tools on Google
  3. Select a date range.
Find how often your competitors are publishing content

Find how often your competitors are publishing content

You’ll now have a better picture of how regularly the target site is publishing any new content (based on the indexed results).

You can also combine this operator with a search query to see how much content a site has published on a specific topic.

40. Find Sites That Are Linking to Your Competitors

link:[website.com]

The link: search operator allows you to see where your competitors are getting links. Combine this with this Google’s time period filter and you’ll be able to see places the site has been linked to recently.

Find sites that are linking to your competitors and WHEN

Find sites that are linking to your competitors and WHEN

A quick note on this one: the link: Google operator was deprecated by Google in 2017 and it may show inconsistent and unreliable results. However, it does still bring back results that may be useful as a starting point for your research.

Summary

Being able to refine your Google searches with Google search operators is a very useful research skill. This advanced yet lesser-known) functionality makes Google an extremely flexible online tool. Even just knowing a few basic commands can give you an edge.

Now it’s your turn: What are the Google search operators you use the most? Also, do you think we missed any on our list? Let us know in the comments!

The post Google Search Operators: 40 Commands to Know in 2021 (Improve Research, Competitive Analysis, and SEO) appeared first on Kinsta.

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