Since Google serves more than 70% of all search queries, it’s only fitting that we focus on how to make the most of it.
Most people – especially those not in the world of SEO and content creation business – pay little attention to how they use Google’s search form. The average user simply types a query, to which they get a myriad page URLs returned in an incredibly short time.
This type of search does not get you refined, targeted results. If you deal in content creation (like me), having advanced Google search skills is a must. You need to know how to use Google’s special operators to get more refined and relevant results. Using special operators cuts down on time spent searching so you can focus on crafting cool sentences.
Google is not perfect
Note that Google isn’t perfect. The web is a highly dynamic maze of web pages where new content is added every second, which means that you can get outdated results from a search query if a new page relevant to your search phrase is not yet indexed.
Google employs a bot (or multiple bots) to scour and index web resources. Some relevant sources might not yet have been indexed by the time you issue a query.
These nifty hacks are especially useful when you already know the domain (or specific web page) from which to pull info.
Operators for specificity
Applying skillful Google searching can yield some interesting results. Using special Google operators, you can filter returned pages so that they are more relevant to your search phrase.
Here are the operators:
|Operator||Description||How it is used|
|“”||used as delimiters with phrases (not single words)||“andy is awesome” returns documents containing the entire phrase andy is awesome|
|–||specifies that the returned results must not contain the specified phrase||– andy returns documents that don’t contain the word andy|
|.||wildcard for a single character||andy.content returns documents with the phrase andy content, andy1content, andyAcontent, andy-content, and so forth|
|*||wildcard for a single word||andy * content returns documents with the phrase andy the content, andy in content, andy or content, and so forth|
|site||returns results from websites within a specified domain||site: google.com andy returns all websites containing the word andy within the google.com domain.|
|inurl||returns results from sites that contain the specified phrase in their URL||inurl: andy content finds websites that contain the word content in the text and andy in the URL.|
|allinurl||results are restricted to websites whose URL contains the specified phrase or words||allinurl: andy content (equivalent to inurl: andy inurl: content) returns all websites with the words andy and content in the URL|
|intitle||returns documents whose titles contain the queried phrase||intitle: andy content returns websites with the word andy in the title and content in the text|
|inanchor||returns websites with links containing the specified phrase in the description||inanchor: andy returns documents containing links with descriptions containing the word andy|
|allintile||works like intitle except it restricts results to phrases in the title||allintitle: andy content returns sites with andy and content in title. Also equivalent to intitle: andy intitle: content|
|filetype, ext (ext = file extension or type)||returns documents of the specified type||filetype: doc andy returns doc files containing the word andy. Do the same for xls, pdf, or any other file type|
|link||returns websites containing links to the specified location||link: http://andycontent.com returns documents containing one or more links to http://andycontent.com.|
|allintext||returns documents containing the specified phrase within the text but not in the URL, title, and link descriptions||allintext:andy content returns documents containing the phrase andy content in the text only|
|cache:url||returns results for the last indexing Google did for the specified url location||This is handy when you made changes to a particular page and need to find out whether it has been indexed by Google bots|
With these operators, you can restrict results to a domain, a particular website, or a specific part of a web page. You can also combine operators for more advanced searches and specificity. You can also use these operators with Google’s other nifty tools such as Google alerts and the advanced search tool.
We’ve just scratched the surface here. There are more ways to use special operators and the advanced search feature to get more refined results. Some are too advanced for this post.
In addition to publicly available info, Google makes it possible to access hidden information by manipulating the way you use these operators. In fact you can find a whole load of information that shouldn’t have been revealed under normal circumstances. Keep around this blog I may share those hacks too some day. In the meantime, bookmark this page for reference next time you’re prowling for prey on the Internet.