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.
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.
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.
You can then check through the search results and see if the content links back to your original web page.
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.
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:
To perform a comprehensive search, you can try this for a few other related phrases like:
The best part is you can search for loads of these all at once while including different keywords by using the pipe | operator.
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.
Remember to omit their site from search results so you only see blog posts that have been written by them as a guest.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
This Google search operator is best applied when you use it to find multiple old files simultaneously.
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.
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:
This search operator effectively does the following:
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:
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.
You can also use this same tactic to uncover how many blog posts a site has published on any given topic.
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.
One of the top results should then point you in the direction of a social media profile where you can contact them directly.
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:
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.
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.
You're reading Human-Led SEO; a regular column dedicated to illustrating how a searcher-first approach to SEO enables businesses to generate more revenue in less time from organic search.Get the next issue