What Are Search Operators?

When Google does not provide the results you want within their search results you can use a search operator to manipulate the search results. These tools are particularly helpful for search engine optimization purposes. If you are reading the whole College of SEO search engine optimization guide you should have a good idea how search engines work, but now we are going to take that a step further. 

Search Operators vary from search engine to search engine, but we are going to focus on a general set of operators that work on Google. Some of these work on other search engines and some do not. Search operators allow you to search specific websites and specific keywords in URLs. Let’s take a look at a few examples below. 

Exact Query 

The exact query search operator allows you to search for a specific keyword or phrase. This is particularly helpful when looking for something very specific like a quote or song lyric. This can be helpful for SEO’s when manually checking your exact keyword page ranks. 

The Operator = “keyword”

Exact Query Search Operator Example Image

Exclude A Word 

This search operator allows you to remove a word or keyword pharse from your search query. The Google Support website does a good job explaining how this could be useful. For example, what if you want to know the speed of a Jaguar and the search results give you the speed of the car called Jaguar rather than the animal.

The example below will eliminate any results with the word “car” so you can easily find the speed of the jaguar animal instead of the car. 

The Operator = -keyword

exclude a word example image

Include Similar Words

Sometimes when you are searching for something their might be several other ways or synonyms to search for the same thing. The search operator “include similar words” allows you to replace the original search query with synonyms. All you need to do is a tilde in front of your search query.

The Operator= ~keyword 

Include Similar Words Example Image

“Site:” Search Operator

Have you ever wanted to see search results only from a specific website? If so, the best way to do this is by using the Google “Site:” operator command. This command is a great way to see how many pages of a website are indexed in Google. Use it to evaluate your own website or your competition. 

When using the site search operator you should drop the “www” if you want to display all the pages associated with a domain including anything on a subdomain like subdomain.website.com. If you only want to search the root domain simply do so by leaving the “www” like www.website.com. 

The Operator = site:

Site Search Operator Example Image

Search A Keyword Within A Website

Using the “site:” search operator described above we can now search specific keywords within a website. In order to do so you simply type in the keyword you want to search followed by the traditional “site” search operator. Searching specific keywords within a website allows you to quickly see how many articles or pages are on a website about that specific topic. Refer to the picture below for an example of how this is done. 

The Operator = keyword site:

Search within a website search operator image

Search Operators Help Save SEO’s Time

The value of using search operators is important for internet marketers and can help them save valuable time when researching or performing an analysis. From the above examples you should be able to quickly find how many pages of a specific website are indexed in Google and a few other variables that are important. 

Now that we have a basic understand of how search engines work and how to use a search engine let’s begin the journey of learning  basic search engine optimization. 

Check Out Lesson 5 – SEO Basics