Search operators date back to the early days of the Internet, when search engines were n’t nearly as powerful as they are today. They are used to specify and substantiate a search entry with the aim of obtaining more precise results from the index and better results according to the search intention. Search operators are still very useful for day-to-day SEO work, e.g. for link marketing, as they allow new link sources and cooperation partners to be researched.
Basic search operators – single characters used to specify keywords
The basic search operators are characters or character combinations with which the search word can be added:
Quotation marks “…”
The result is restricted to the exact phrase with the same word order. Example: “Online Marketing for Beginners” only delivers results in which the phrase appears exactly.
Plus sign +
Combination of several terms so that all terms appear in the search result. Example: container + construction site.
This function is already integrated in today’s Google search, ie entering several words separated by spaces “tells” Google that all these terms should appear in the result.
Minus sign –
Exclusion of search terms. Example: “Silver jewelry chains” only returns results that contain “silver jewelry” but not “chains”.
Allows you to search for similar terms. Example: ~ colleagues
Star symbol *
The star replaces terms after the search word. This is useful, for example, in situations in which the second term cannot be found, but it is a common combination that is often searched for. The search with the star is also known as a wildcard search. Example: website *
Nowadays this function is applied automatically by Google – by Google Suggest. If you type in a word on Google, additional words are automatically suggested in combination that are searched for particularly often.
A “from – to” search is possible with the help of the dots.
Example: long-sleeved shirt 10..30 €
Advanced search operators for Google Search
For example, the advanced search operators make it easier to find specific areas of a particular website. These search functions are useful for many areas in online marketing, e.g. for searching for backlink sources or to get an overview of the competition.
The URL or the word to which the search is to be restricted must always follow the colon of the search operator without spaces.
The extended search operators at a glance
||Display pages of a domain indexed by Google or limit search results to a specific page or domain
||with “site: example.com seo” the domain is searched for the keyword “SEO”
||Shows pages in whose links referring to them the search term occurs
||Restaurant inanchor: vegan
||Only those results are displayed in which all search words appear in the link text
||allinanchor: website building tips
||Restricts the search results to the pages that contain the search term in the text
||Only pages are displayed in which all searched words are within the text
||allintext: learn to skate
||Only pages with the search term in their title are displayed
||Moving tips intitle: Download
||All searched terms must be in the page title
||allintitle: App development
||Only results are shown where the search term is in the URL
||All search terms must be in the URL
||allinurl: SEO Agency Munich
||Search operator for Google Groups, shows in connection with keyword and name all messages of this person on the topic
||Parfum author: Mathilda
||Cache versions of the website are displayed, which is written after “cache:”
||Shows pages with definitions of the search term
||define: conversion optimization
||Limitation of search results to one file type
||Baby dog filetype: jpg
||Search operator for Google Groups, search results are restricted to articles in a specific group
||Raspberry group: gardening professionals
||Information about the website behind info is displayed
||The search results are all pages that link to the URL below
||On Google News, restricts the results to one place
||Messen location: Dresden
||Pages are displayed whose content is similar to the one behind related. Alternatively, similar pages can also be reached via the link “Similar Pages” in the search results.
||Restriction of search results in Google News to one portal
||Blizzard source: CNN
Many search operators can also be combined with one another to get more specific search results, for example the operators “inurl” and “site”.
Example: inurl: social media site: example.com
Benefits in online marketing
According to foodanddrinkjournal.com, the Google search operators offer numerous application possibilities in online marketing, especially to find contact options for cooperation. But the search operators are also useful as a source for links or as a basis for SEO work.
Intention: Search forums to collect questions / problems on a topic
Procedure: Link inurl with keyword and typical URL content of a forum, eg: “Keyword inurl: forum” or “Keyword inurl: showthread”
The search for blogs that match thematically works in a similar way, only with other search terms that match typical blog URLs.
Search for backlink sources
The search operator “allintext”, for example, is suitable for this, with which pages can be searched for terms such as “guest article” or “comment” in connection with a topic-relevant keyword.
Research for SEO analyzes
The site query can be used in combination with a relevant keyword, for example, to find competing websites.
The cache query can be used to check whether Google has already recognized new backlinks and is taking them into account.
Other possible uses for Google search operators: Search parameters for Google in practice
Other uses for search operators
Search operators are not limited to Google or search engines, but can also be used for internal searches on websites (if available) or in social networks such as Twitter. It should be noted that each search engine uses slightly different operators.