10 Ways to Use Google Advanced Search Operators for Boosting Your SEO Efforts

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Google Advanced Search Operators
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With so many different powerful SEO platforms out there, it can be easy to forget about the most readily available SEO tool out there - Google.

While everyday Google searches are kind of basic and don’t necessarily yield that much specific information, knowing how to leverage Google Advanced Search Operators, will help you boost your SEO efforts.

Google advanced search operators are generally short commands that are easy to remember. Understanding how to best use them is the key to obtaining results. 

Here we’re sharing our top ways of mastering Google advanced search operators for SEO purposes. 

1. Uncover Duplicate Content Issues

As we know duplicate content is bad news for Google rankings. However, it’s easy to reuse a piece of duplicate content across your site without realising. 

This is particularly common on eCommerce sites when site managers publish descriptions that are the same or very similar on multiple product pages. 

For example, if your site sells underwear, you might use the same product description and only modify the title to include different quantities or colours. 

You can check for duplicate content by using the search operator site: in combination with copied and pasted text from the content in question. 

site:“copied and pasted content”

If you’re selling products from a third-party company, they may have sent you the same brand description as ones used on other eCommerce websites. It’s worth checking if others are using the same brand descriptions as you. 

If you run a blog, other users may steal your content and post it on their own site. Google will take this as a duplicate content issue and may even penalise your site.  

Check by using advanced search operator intitle: for search results that match your content’s page title. 

Google search results for intitle: no bake chocolate brownies

You can then check through the search results and see if the content links back to your original web page. 

2. Search for Indexation Issues

The majority of sites have a few Google indexation errors. Potentially some of your site’s pages that need to be indexed haven’t been indexed or the other way round. 

You can use the site: operator to see how many pages Google has indexed for your site. If you know how many web pages you should have indexed, you can then compare it to Google’s number and do something about it.

Google search results for site:pinchofyum.com

If you see that lots of pages with 404s are indexed you can then take steps to remove them from the SERPs by noindexing them.

3. Identify Guest Post Opportunities 

Posting a blog post as a guest writer on another well-read blog is an excellent way of directing more organic traffic to your own blog as well as building valuable backlinks

Targeting authoritative sites that are actively looking for guest writers to contribute a blog post is the best way of identifying opportunities. 

You can do this by using the intitle: search operator. 

For example, if you’re looking to contribute to a baking blog and write a recipe as a guest writer you could use the search operator as follows: 

baking intitle:”become a contributor” inurl:“become-a-contributor”

Google search results for baking intitle:”become a contributor” inurl:“become-a-contributor”

To perform a comprehensive search, you can try this for a few other related phrases like: 

  • Guest post guidelines
  • Write for us
  • Contribute to 

The best part is you can search for loads of these all at once while including different keywords by using the pipe | operator. 

(Cakes | baking) AND (“contribute to” inurl:”write for us”)

Google search results for (Cakes | baking) AND (“contribute to” inurl:”write for us”)

If you’re looking for inspiration as to where you should be targeting for guest post opportunities, you can look at where other bloggers have contributed in the past to point you in the right direction. 

baking intext:“name” inurl:author -theirsite.com

Remember to omit their site from search results so you only see blog posts that have been written by them as a guest. 

4. Find Link Building Opportunities 

Expand your backlink strategy, using advanced search operators to help you get there.

If you’ve found a site you really want a link from and you’ve already checked it for its relevance and authority, you can use search operators to find a list of similar sites that you may want to obtain a backlink from. 

Use the search operator related: 

related:pinchofyum.com

Google search results for related:pinchofyum.com

It may bring up search results you’re familiar with or some sites you don’t know at all. 

If you come across sites you know nothing about, you can go through a simple screening process to find out some more information. 

  • Perform a site:domain.com search, and write down the number of results
  • Perform a site:domain.comtopic search and write down the number of results
  • Divide the second number by the first number - if it’s above 0.5 it’s a relevant candidate and if it’s above 0.75 it’s a highly relevant candidate 

While this is a fairly reliable way of checking out a site’s relevancy it’s no replacement for manually checking it. 

You should always thoroughly check a potential linking prospect’s site before contacting them. If you fail to do this, you may miss out on checking the warning signs of an irrelevant or spammy site.

5. Identify Non-Secure Pages (non-https)

Using an HTTPs is a must, especially if you have a site that utilises credit card payments. Any kind of eCommerce site must make sure all of their web pages are secure with an HTTPs. 

It’s easy to identify insecure pages with the search operator site: 

All you need to enter is: 

site:domain.com -inurl:https 

Using this simple search operator, you can quickly uncover all of your site’s pages that aren’t yet secure with an HTTPs. 

The “-inurl:” portion ensures that there’s no HTTPs in the URL so you can correctly uncover any pages without this. 

6. Detect Old Irrelevant Files on Your Domain 

Managing your site and remembering every single file upload can be a complex task. 

This is particularly true if you have a big site with many different web pages and files. It’s very easy to forget about files you may have uploaded a while ago. 

These may include Word documents, PDFs, and Powerpoint presentations. You can use the operator filetype: to uncover these old files that may require deleting. 

site:growhackscale.com filetype:pdf

This search operator is best applied when you use it to find multiple old files simultaneously. 

site:growhackscale.com (ext:PDF OR ext:docx OR ext:ppt OR ext.xls) 

If these files turn out to be out of date and you’d prefer visitors don’t see them, once you’ve identified their location you can delete them or noindex them. 

7. Identify Internal Linking Opportunities 

Internal links are an essential part of any strong SEO strategy. They increase dwell time on your web pages and help guide visitors around parts of your site that are relevant to them. 

When used wisely, internal links can bring some serious SEO benefits to your site. But you need to be careful that you’re only adding internal links where they’re helpful and relevant. 

Let’s say you run a food blog and you post a big blog post titled, “12 Best Healthy Recipes for Fall”. 

Once you’ve published that blog post, it would be wise to go through your site, looking for suitable places where you could add in an internal link. To do this you could run some searches that identify anchor text for where you could insert your internal link. 

If you already have quite a lot of healthy recipe content across your site, it’s likely you’ve already used the phrase ‘healthy recipes’ multiple times so you could identify plenty of linking opportunities. 

You would use the following search operator:

site:pinchofyum.com -site:pinchofyum.com/best-healthy-fall-recipes intext:"healthy recipes"

Google search results for site:pinchofyum.com -site:pinchofyum.com/best-healthy-fall-recipes intext:"healthy recipes"

This search operator effectively does the following: 

  • Keeps the search to one site
  • Removes the page where you want to link to 
  • Identifies specified words in the content 

8. Find Out How Often Your Competitors Publish Content 

Remaining on top of your competitors’ movements when it comes to content and how often they’re publishing it is key to ensuring you remain on top of industry trends and your own blog to ensure you’re not missing out on any golden opportunities for a piece of high ranking content. 

You can do this by using the simple search operator site: 

site:thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes

If you want to check how many blog posts they’ve published in a given timeframe, for example, the last month, all you need to do is click on tools and select the preferred timeframe. 

Google search results for site:thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes

You can also use this same tactic to uncover how many blog posts a site has published on any given topic. 

9. Search for Social Profiles for Outreach Prospects 

If you have someone in mind that you specifically want to reach out to for link building, guest post writing or social media collaborations, you can use a search operator to hunt down their contact details. 

While you need to know their name, people’s contact details can be somewhat harder to track down. 

name company (site:linkedIn.com | site:instagram.com | site:facebook.com)

One of the top results should then point you in the direction of a social media profile where you can contact them directly. 

10. Identify Q&A Threads and Forums Related to Your  Content 

Forums and Q&A threads like Reddit and Quora are great places for promoting your content in a relevant and natural way. 

When you answer a question on Quora you can subtly pepper your answer with links to your blog posts. 

Find relevant threads by using search operator site: 

site:quora.com intitle:(“healthy recipes”)

Google search results for site:quora.com intitle:(“healthy recipes”)

Once you hit enter, a whole host of relevant threads should pop up. You can look for some opportunities to place some of your site’s links in a natural and helpful way so that readers feel compelled to click on your blog for valuable information. 

While these links are nofollow, it doesn’t matter as not only will they contribute to a healthy backlink profile in Google’s eyes but also encourage visitors to head to your site. 

You can do this for any forum or Q&A site to help give your site more targeted organic traffic. 

The Bottom Line on Using Google Advanced Search Operators 

Harnessing Google advanced search operators can be a game-changer in your SEO efforts. When used properly, you can quickly track down ultra-specific information that’s related to either your site or a competitor’s. 

Once you get the idea of how search operators work, you’ll soon find they’re simple to use and wonder how you ever performed Google searches without them. 

About
Holly Stanley
Holly's love for travel and Latin America led her to working in luxury travel, creating content for an award-winning agency. When not working she's usually found in one of the city’s buzziest bars and restaurants or out in the countryside riding and playing polo.