For those who are doing IF THE for a while, Google’s advanced search operators, meaning special commands that make regular searches seem ridiculously basic in comparison, are nothing new.
Here is a Google search operator that you should be familiar with.
Most search operators are easy to remember. They are short commands that stay in the mind.
But knowing how to use them effectively is a completely different story.
Most SEOs know the basics, but few really master them.
In this post, I’ll share 15 practical tips to help you master search operators IF THE, that are:
- Find crawl errors
- Find unsecured pages (not https)
- Find duplicate content issues
- Find unwanted files and pages on your site
- Find guest posting opportunities
- Find opportunities on the resources page
- Find sites with infographics … so you can launch YOUR
- Find more link prospects … AND check how relevant they are
- Find social profiles for potential customers
- Find internal linking opportunities
- Meet PR opportunities finding mentions of competitors
- Find sponsored posting opportunities
- Find question and answer topics related to your content
- Find out how often your competitors are posting new content
- Find sites that link to competitors
But first, here is a complete list of all Google search operators and their functionality.
Google search operators: the complete list
Did you know that Google is constantly killing useful operators?
That’s why most of the existing lists of Google search operators are out of date and inaccurate.
For this post, I personally tested EACH search operator I found.
The following is a complete list of all Google advanced search operators, both functional and non-functional, that “hit and miss” starting in 2018.
“search term “
Force an exact match search. Use this to refine ambiguous search results or exclude synonyms when searching for single words.
Example: “Steve Jobs”
Look for X or Y. This will return results related to X or Y, or both. note: The pipe operator (|) can also be used in place of “OR. “
Look for X and Y. This will only return results related to both X and Y. note: It really doesn’t make much difference to regular searches, as Google defaults to “AND“anyway. But it is very useful when paired with other operators.
Example: jobs AND gates
Delete a term or phrase. In our example, all pages returned will be related to jobs, but not Apple (the company).
Example: jobs – apple
It acts as a wildcard and matches any word or phrase.
Example: steve * apple
Group multiple search terms or operators to control how the search is performed.
Example: (ipad OR iphone) apple
Search prices. It also works for euros (€), but not for GBP (£) 🙁
Example: ipad $ 329
A dictionary built into Google, basically. This will display the meaning of a word in a card-like result in the SERPs.
Example: define: entrepreneur
Returns the most recent cached version of a web page (as long as the page is indexed, of course).
Example: cache: apple.com
Restrict the results to those for a particular file type. For example., PDF, DOCX, TXT, PPTetc. note: The “ext:” operator can also be used – the results are identical.
Limit your results to those on a specific site.
Example: site: apple.com
Find sites related to a particular domain.
Example: Related: apple.com
Find pages with a certain word (or words) in the title. In our example, all results that contain the word “apple” in the title tag will be returned.
Example: title: apple
Similar to “Title”, but only results containing all of the words specified in the title tag will be returned.
Example: allintitle: apple iphone
Find pages with a certain word (or words) in the URL. In this example, any result that contains the word “apple” in URL will be returned.
Example: inurl: apple
Similar to “inurl”, but only results containing all of the words specified in the URL will be returned.
Example: allinurl: apple iphone
Find pages that contain a particular word (or words) somewhere in the content. In this example, any results that contain the word “apple” in the page content will be returned.
Example: intext: apple
Similar to “intext”, but only results containing all of the words specified somewhere on the page will be returned.
Example: allintext: apple iphone
Search by proximity. Find pages that contain two words or phrases between X words from each other. In this example, the words “apple” and “iphone” must be present in the content and not more than four words.
Example: Apple AROUND(4) iphone
Find the weather for a specific location. This is displayed in a weather snippet, but it also returns results from other “weather” sites.
Example: weather: san francisco
Consult stock information (ie price, etc.) for a specific code.
Example: actions: aapl
Force Google to show the map results for a local search.
Example: map: silicon valley
Find information about a specific movie. It also finds movie showtimes if the movie is currently playing near you.
Example: movie: steve jobs
Convert one unit to another. Works with coins, weights, temperatures, etc.
Example: $ 329 in GBP
Find news results from a particular source on Google News.
Example: apple source: the_verge
It’s not exactly a search operator, but it acts as a wildcard for Google’s autocomplete.
Example: apple CEO _ jobs
Here are the ones that are wrong, according to my tests:
# .. #
Look for a range of numbers. In the example below, searches related to “WWDC videos ”are returned for the years 2010 to 2014, but not for 2015 and beyond.
Example: wwdc video 2010..2014
Find pages to which specific anchor text is being linked. In this example, any results with inbound links containing “apple” or “iphone” in the anchor text will be returned.
Example: inanchor: apple iphone
Similar to “inanchor”, but only results containing all of the words specified in the input anchor text will be returned.
Example: allinanchor: apple iphone
Find blog URLs on a specific domain. This was used in Google’s blog search, but I found that it returns some results in regular search.
Example: blogurl: microsoft.com
Google blog search discontinued in 2011
Find results for a particular area.
Example: loc: apple “san francisco”
It has not been officially discontinued, but the results are inconsistent.
Find news from a specific location on Google News.
Example: loc: apple “san francisco”
It has not been officially discontinued, but the results are inconsistent.
Here are the Google search operators that have been discontinued and no longer work. 🙁
Force an exact match search on a single word or phrase.
Example: jobs + apple
You can do the same using double quotes in your search.
Include synonyms. It doesn’t work, because Google now includes synonyms by default. (Hint: use double quotes to delete synonyms.)
Example: ~ apple
Find posts written by a specific author. This only worked on Google Blog search, not regular Google search.
Example: inpostauthor: ”steve jobs”
Google blog search was discontinued in 2011.
Similar to “inpostauthor”, but removes the need for quotes (if you want to search for a specific author, including last name).
Example: allinpostauthor: steve jobs
Find blog posts with specific words in the title. It no longer works, as this operator was unique to discontinued Google blog search.
Example: title: apple iphone
Find pages that link to a specific domain, or URL. Google killed this operator in 2017, but it still shows some results – they are probably not particularly accurate. (Discontinued in 2017)
Example: link: apple.com
Find information about a specific page, including the most recent cache, similar pages, etc. (Discontinued in 2017). note: O
id: The operator can also be used – the results are identical.
Although the original functionality of that operator is obsolete, it is still useful to find the canonical and indexed version of a URL. Thanks to @glenngabe for pointing this one out!
Find results for a given period. Use the Julian date format, for some reason.
Example: daterange: 11278–13278
It has not been officially discontinued, but it does not seem to work.
Find someone’s phone number. (Discontinued in 2010)
Example: agenda: tim cook
Search #hashtags. Introduced to Google+; now discontinued.
15 Ways to Use Google’s Search Operators
Now let’s cover some ways to put these operators into action.
My goal here is to show that you can achieve almost anything with advanced Google operators, if you know how to use them and combine them efficiently.
So don’t be afraid to play and stray from the examples below. You can discover something new.
There are Google crawl errors for most sites.
It may be that a page that should be indexed is not. Or vice versa.
Let’s use the
site: operator to see how many pages Google has indexed ahrefs.com.
But how many of those pages are blog posts?
Let’s find out.
~ 249. This is approximately ¼.
I know the Ahrefs blog from the inside out, so I know that this is greater than the number of posts we have.
Let’s investigate further.
It’s ok, it looks like some odd pages are being indexed.
(This page is not live – it’s a 404)
These pages must be removed from the SERPs by don’t index them.
We will also restrict the search to subdomains and see what we find.
Here, we are using the wildcard operator (*) to find all subdomains belonging to the domain, combined with the exclusion operator (-) to exclude regular results from www.
~ 731 results.
Here is a page that resides on a subdomain that definitely it should not be indexed. It gives a 404 error to start.
Here are some other ways to discover crawl errors with Google operators:
site:yourblog.com/category– find WordPress blog category pages;
site:yourblog.com inurl:tag– find WordPress tag pages.
HTTPs is a I owe these days, especially for e-commerce sites.
But did you know that you can find unsecured pages with
We will try asos.com.
Oh my, ~ 2.47 million unsecure pages.
Looks HOW … HOW currently does not use SSLUnbelievable for such a big website.
Don’t worry, Asos customers – your checkout pages are secure “
But here’s another crazy thing:
ALONE is accessible both https and http versions.
And we learn all of this in a simple way
site: Search for!
I noticed that sometimes when using this tactic, pages are indexed without https. But when you click, you will be taken to the https version. So don’t assume that your pages are not secure just because they appear in the Google index. Always click on some of them to check again.
Duplicate content = incorrect.
Here it is a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch jeans from ALONE with this brand description:
With third-party brand descriptions like this, they are often duplicated on other sites.
But first, I’m wondering how many times that copy appears in asos.com.
Now, I’m wondering if this copy is exclusive to ALONE.
No, it’s not.
There are another 15 sites with exactly the same copy, that is, duplicate content.
Sometimes, duplicate content issues can also arise on similar product pages.
For example, similar or identical products with different quantities.
Here is an example of ALONE:
You can see that, in addition to the quantities, all of these product pages are the same.
But duplicate content is not just an issue for e-commerce sites.
If you have a blog, people may be stealing and republishing your content without attribution.
Let’s see if someone stole and republished our list of IF THE tips.
~ 17 results.
You’ll notice that I deleted ahrefs.com results using the exclude operator (-) – this ensures that the original does not appear in the search results. I also deleted the word “pinterest”. That’s because I saw a lot of Pinterest results for this search, which aren’t really relevant to what we’re looking for. I could have just deleted pinterest.com (-pinterest.com), but since Pinterest has a lot of ccTLDs, that didn’t help much. Deleting the word “pinterest” was the best way to clear the results.
Most of these are probably syndicated content.
Still, it’s worth checking this out to make sure they have a link for you.
Find stolen content in seconds
Content Explorer > In the title> type the title of your page / post> delete your own site
You will see all the pages (from our database of 900M+ parts of content) with the same title as your page / post.
In this case, there are 5 results.
Then, enter your domain under “Highlight non-linked domains”.
This will highlight any website that does not have a link for you.
You can access these sites and request to add a source link.
For your information, this filter actually looks for links at the domain level, not the page level. Therefore, it is possible that the website is linked to you from another page, and not from the page in question.
Tracking everything on your website can be difficult.
This is especially true for large sites.
For this reason, it is easy to forget the old files that you may have uploaded.
PDF files; Word documents; Powerpoint presentations; text files; etc.
Let’s use the
filetype: operator to check these ahrefs.com.
Remember, you can also use the
ext: operator – does the same thing.
Here is one of those files:
I’ve never seen this content before. You already?
But we can extend this beyond just PDF files.
By combining some operators, it is possible to return results for all supported file types at once.
The file type operator also supports things like .asp, .php, .htmletc.
It’s important to delete or index these items if you’d prefer people not to find them.
Guest post opportunities… exist TONS ways to find them, such as:
But you already knew about this method, right!? 😉
For those who have never seen this one before, he discovers so-called “write to us” pages in his niche – the pages that many websites create when they are actively seeking contributions from guests.
So, let’s be more creative.
First, don’t just “write to us”.
You can also use:
“become a contributor"
“write for me”(yes – there are individual bloggers who also look for guest posts!)
“guest post guidelines”
But here’s an interesting tip that most people miss:
You can search for many of them at the same time.
Did you notice that I’m using the channel operator (“|”) instead of “OR“This time? Remember, it does the same thing. 🙂
You can even search for multiple footprints AND multiple keywords.
Looking for opportunities in a specific country?
Just add one
Here’s another method:
If you know a serial guest blogger in your niche, try the following:
This will find all the sites that the person has written to.
Don’t forget to delete their website to keep the results clean.
How to find even more posts from authors
Content Explorer > author search> delete site (s)
In this example, we will use our own Tim Soulo.
BANG. 17 hits. All of which are probably guest posts.
For reference, here’s the exact search I entered in Content Explorer:
author:”tim soulo” -site:ahrefs.com -site:bloggerjet.com
Basically, it looks for messages from Tim Soulo. But it also excludes posts from ahrefs.com and bloggerjet.com (Tim’s personal blog).
Note. Sometimes, you will find some false positives there. It depends on how common the person’s name is.
But don’t stop there:
You can also use Content Explorer to find sites in your niche that have never been linked to you.
Content Explorer> insert a topic> one article per domain> highlight unlinked domains
Here is one of the unlinked domains I found for ahrefs.com:
This means marketingprofs.com never linked to us.
Now, this survey does not tell us whether or not they have a “write to us” page. But it doesn’t really matter. The truth is, most sites generally accept accepting postings from guests if you can offer them “quality” content. It would definitely be worth reaching out and “launching” these sites.
Another benefit of using Content Explorer is that you can see statistics for each page, including:
- # of RDs;
- Estimated organic traffic;
- Social actions;
You can also export the results easily. 🙂
Finally, if you’re wondering whether or not a specific site accepts guest posts, try the following:
You can add even more searches, for example, “this article is a guest”, to the list of searches included in parentheses. I kept it simple for demonstration purposes.
“Resource ”brings together the best resources on a topic.
Here’s what the page called “resource” looks like:
All of these links you see = links to resources on other sites.
(Ironically – given the nature of the subject on that particular page – many of these links are broken)
So, if you have an interesting resource on your site, you can:
- find relevant “resource” pages;
- launch your feature for inclusion
Here is a way to find them:
But it can generate a lot of garbage.
Here is a cool way to reduce it:
Or reduce it further with:
allintitle: here ensures that the title tag contains the words “fitness” AND “Resources” and also a number between 5 and 15.
a note about the operator # .. #
I know what you’re thinking:
Why not use
#..# operator instead of the long sequence of numbers.
We will try:
Confused? Here’s the deal:
This operator does not work well with most other operators.
It doesn’t even seem to work most of the time – it’s definitely a failure.
So I recommend using a sequence of numbers separated by “OR“Or the tube operator (” | “).
It’s a little complicated, but it works.
Infographics are bad.
This is probably because many people create cheap, low-quality infographics that serve no real purpose … other than “attracting links”.
But infographics are not always bad.
Here is the general strategy for infographics:
- create infographic
- pitch infographic
- highlight, get link (and PR!)
But who should you launch your infographic to?
Any old sites in your niche?
You must submit to sites that are actually you probably want to highlight your infographic.
The best way to do this is to find websites that have featured infographics before.
It may also be worthwhile to research in a recent period, for example, in the last three months. Se um site apresentou um infográfico há dois anos, isso não significa necessariamente que eles ainda se importam com infográficos. Considerando que, se um site apresentou um infográfico nos últimos meses, é provável que ele ainda os destaque regularmente. Mas como o operador “daterange:” parece não funcionar mais, você precisará fazer isso usando o filtro incorporado na pesquisa do Google.
Mas, novamente, isso pode retroceder algum lixo sério.
Então, aqui está um truque rápido:
- use a pesquisa acima para encontrar um bom infográfico relevante (ou seja, bem projetado etc.)
- procure esse infográfico específico
Aqui está um exemplo:
Isso encontrou ~ 2 resultados dos últimos 3 meses. E mais de 450 resultados de todos os tempos.
Faça isso por alguns infográficos e você terá uma boa lista de clientes em potencial.
Não está obtendo ótimos resultados do Google? Tente isso.
Você já reparou que, quando um infográfico é incorporado a um site, o proprietário do site geralmente inclui a palavra “infográfico” entre colchetes na tag title?
Infelizmente, a pesquisa do Google ignora colchetes (mesmo que estejam entre aspas).
Mas o Content Explorer não.
Explorador de Conteúdo > consulta de pesquisa> “AND [infographic]”
Como você pode ver, você também pode usar operadores avançados em CE para pesquisar vários termos de uma só vez. A pesquisa acima encontra resultados contendo “SEO, “” Pesquisa por palavra-chave “ou” construção de link “na tag title, além de”[infographic]. “
Você pode exportá-los facilmente (com todas as métricas associadas) também.
Vamos supor que você encontrou um site do qual deseja um link.
Ele foi avaliado manualmente por relevância … e tudo parece bem.
Veja como encontrar uma lista de sites ou páginas semelhantes:
Isso retornou ~ 49 resultados – todos eles eram sites semelhantes.
In the example above, we’re looking for similar sites to Ahrefs’ blog—not Ahrefs as a whole.
want to do the same for specific pages? No problem
Let’s try our link building guide.
That’s ~45 results, all of which are muito similar. 🙂
Here’s one of the results: yoast.com/seo-blog
I’m quite familiar with Yoast, so I know it’s a relevant site/prospect.
But let’s assume that I know nothing about this site, how could I quickly vet this prospect?
- do a
site:domain.comsearch, and note down the number of results;
- do a
site:domain.com [niche]search, then also note down the number of results;
- divide the second number by the first—if it’s above 0.5, it’s a good, relevant prospect; if it’s above 0.75, it’s a super-relevant prospect.
Let’s try this with yoast.com.
Here’s the number of results for a simple
So that’s 3,950 / 3,330 = ~0.84.
(Remember, >0.75 translates to a very relevant prospect, usually)
Now let’s try the same for a site that I know to be irrelevant: greatist.com.
Number of results for
site:greatist.com search: ~18,000
Number of results for
site:greatist.com SEO search: ~7
(18,000 / 7 = ~0.0004 = a totally irrelevant site)
IMPORTANT! This is a great way to quick eliminate highly-irrelevant tactics, but it’s not foolproof—you will sometimes get strange or unenlightening results. I also want to stress that it’s certainly no replacement for manually checking a potential prospect’s website. You should ALWAYS thoroughly check a prospects site before reaching out to them. Failure to do that = SPAMMING.
Here’s another way to find similar domains/prospects…
Site Explorer > relevant domain > Competing Domains
For example, let’s assume I was looking for more SEO-related link prospects.
I could enter ahrefs.com/blog into Site Explorer.
Then check the Competing Domains.
This will reveal domains competing for the same keywords.
Got someone in mind that you want to reach out to?
Try this trick to find their contact details:
Vocês NEED to know their name for this one. This is usually quite easy to find on most websites—it’s just the contact details that can be somewhat elusive.
Here are the top 4 results:
You can then contact them directly via social media.
Or use some of the tips from steps #4 and #6 in this article to hunt down an email address.
Internal links are important.
They help visitors to find their way around your site.
And they also bring SEO benefits (when used wisely)
But you need to make sure that you’re ONLY adding internal links where relevant.
Let’s say that you just published a big list of SEO tips.
Wouldn’t it be cool to add an internal link to that post from any other posts where you talk about SEO tips?
It’s just that finding relevant places to add such links can be difficult—especially with big sites.
So here’s a quick trick:
For those of you who still haven’t gotten the hang of search operators, here’s what this does:
- Restricts the search to a specific site;
- Excludes the page/post that you want to build internal links to;
- Looks for a certain word or phrase in the text.
Here’s one opportunity I found with this operator:
It took me all of ~3 seconds to find this. 🙂
Here’s a page that mentions a competitor of ours—Moz.
Found using this advanced search:
But why no mention of Ahrefs? 🙁
intext:, I can see that this site has mentioned us a couple of times before.
But they haven’t written any posts dedicated to our toolset, as they have with Moz.
This presents an opportunity.
Reach out, build a relationship, then perhaps they may write about Ahrefs.
Here’s another cool search that can be used to find competitor reviews:
Because we’re using “allintitle” rather than “intitle,” this will match only results with both the word “review” and one of our competitors in the title tag.
You can build relationships with these people and get them to review your product/service too.
Go even further with Content Explorer
You can also use the “In title” search in Content Explorer to find competitor reviews.
I tried this for Ahrefs and found 795 results.
For clarity, here’s the exact search I used:
review AND (moz OR semrush OR majestic) -site:moz.com -site:semrush.com -site:majestic.com
But you can go even further by highlighting unlinked mentions.
This highlights the sites that have never linked to you before, so you can then prioritise them.
Here’s one site that has never linked to Ahrefs, yet has reviewed our competitor:
You can see that it’s a Domain Rating (DR) 79 website, so it would be well worth getting a mention on this site.
Here’s another cool tip:
daterange: operator is now deprecated. But you can still add a time period filter to find recent competitor mentions.
Just use the inbuilt filter.
Tools > Any time > select time period
Looks like ~34 reviews of our competitors were published in the past month.
Want alerts for competitor mentions in real-time? Faça isso.
Alerts > Mentions > Add alert
Enter the name of your competitor… or any search query you like.
Choose a mode (either “in title” or “everywhere”), add your blocked domains, then add a recipient.
Set your internal to real-time (or whatever interval you prefer).
You will now receive an email whenever your competitors are mentioned online.
12. Find sponsored post opportunities
Sponsored posts are paid-for posts promoting your brand, product or service.
Esses são NOT link building opportunities.
Google’s guidelines states the following;
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
This is why you should ALWAYS nofollow links in sponsored posts.
But the true value of a sponsored post doesn’t come down to links anyway.
It comes down to PR—i.e., getting your brand in front of the right people.
Here’s one way to find sponsored post opportunities using Google search operators:
~151 results. Not bad.
Here are a few other operator combinations to use:
[niche] intext:”this is a sponsored post by”
[niche] intext:”this post was sponsored by”
[niche] intitle:”sponsored post”
[niche] intitle:”sponsored post archives” inurl:”category/sponsored-post”
“sponsored” AROUND(3) “post”
The examples above are exactly that—examples. There are almost certainly other footprints you can use to find such posts. Don’t be afraid to try other ideas.
Want to know how much traffic each of these sites get? Faça isso.
Forums and Q+A sites are great for promoting content.
Promoting != spamming. Don’t join such sites just to add your links. Provide value and drop the occasional relevant link in there in the process.
One site that comes to mind is Quora.
Quora allow you to drop relevant links throughout your answers.
It’s true that these links are nofollowed.
But we’re not trying to build links here—this is about PR!
Here’s one way to find relevant threads:
Don’t limit yourself to Quora, though.
This can be done with any forum or Q+A site.
Here’s the same search for Warrior Forum:
I also know that Warrior Forum has a search engine optimization category.
Every thread in this category has “.com/search-engine-optimization/” in the URL.
So I could refine my search even further with the inurl: operator.
I’ve found that using search operators like this allows you to search forum threads with more granularity than most on-site searches.
Here’s another cool trick…
Site Explorer > quora.com > Organic Keywords > search for a niche-relevant keyword
You should now see relevant Quora threads sorted by estimated monthly organic traffic.
Answering such threads can lead to a nice trickle of referral traffic.
Most blogs reside in a subfolder or on a subdomain.
This makes it easy to check how regularly competitors are publishing new content.
Let’s try this for one of our competitors—SEMrush.
Looks like they have ~4.5K blog posts.
But this isn’t accurate. It includes multi-language versions of the blog, which reside on subdomains.
Let’s filter these out.
That’s more like it. ~2.2K blog posts.
Now we know our competitor (SEMrush) has ~2.2K blog posts in total.
Let’s see how many they published in the last month.
daterange: operator no longer works, we’ll instead use Google’s inbuilt filter.
Tools > Any time > select time period
Any date range is possible here. Just select “custom.”
~29 blog posts. Interesting.
FYI, that’s ~4x faster than we publish new posts. And they have ~15X more posts than us in total.
But we still get more traffic… with ~2x the value, might I add 😉
Quality over quantity, right!?
You can also use the
site: operator combined with a search query to see how much content a competitor has published on a certain topic.
Competitors getting links?
What if you could also have them?
link: operator was officially deprecated in 2017.
But I’ve found that it does still return some results.
When doing this, always make sure to exclude your competitors site using the “site” operator. If you don’t, you’ll also see their internal links.
want to see even more links?
Google’s data is heavily sampled.
It likely isn’t too accurate either.
Site Explorer can provide a much fuller picture of your competitor’s backlink profile.
~1.5 million backlinks.
That’s a lot more than Google showed us.
This is yet another instance where the time period filter can be useful.
Filtering by the last month, I can see that Moz has gained 18K+ new backlinks.
Pretty useful. But this also illustrates how inaccurate this data can be.
Site Explorer picked up 35K+ links for this same period.
That’s almost DOUBLE!
Google advanced search operators are insanely powerful.
You just have to know how to use them.
But I have to admit that some are more useful than others, especially when it comes to SEO. I find myself using
inurl: on an almost daily basis. Yet I rarely use
allintitle:, and many of the other more obscure operators.
I’d also add that many operators are borderline useless unless paired with another operator… or two, or three.
So do play around with them and let me know what you come up with.
I’d be more than happy to add any useful combinations you discover to the post. 🙂