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Mastering Google Search Operators in 67 Easy Steps

February 28, 2017

By Dr-Pete

Posted by Dr-Pete

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Any SEO worth their sustainably harvested pink Himalayan salt knows that Google offers a variety of advanced search operators – special commands that take you above and beyond regular text searches. Learning search operators is a bit like learning chess, though. It’s easy to memorize how each piece moves, but that’s about 1% of your path toward mastery. I know that the pointy-hat guy in chess moves diagonally, but that doesn’t mean I’m about to take on Kasparov or Deep Blue.

Instead of just listing all of the operators and telling you what they do, I’d like to try something different. This post is a journey in 67 parts, split into five functional stories:

  1. Content Research
  2. Title Research
  3. Plagiarism Check
  4. Competitive Research
  5. Technical SEO/Audits

You can skip around, but I’d suggest following the story from the beginning. When you’re done, you’ll understand not only what each operator does, but how to use it in real-world situations and mix-and-match it with other useful operators.

I. Content Research

Crafting original content in 2017 requires wading into the sea of content that’s already been created, and Google remains the most complete map of that sea. Advanced search operators are invaluable research tools for content marketers. Let’s walk through a sample content journey…

1. Find all the content


Let’s say you’ve got a blog post to write about the inventor Nikola Tesla. You hop over to Google and search “tesla,” only to find a lot of results like this:

Google has decided that Tesla Motors is the dominant intent for this phrase, which doesn’t help you very much for your current project.

2. Narrow your search

nikola tesla

So, of course you add more keywords and narrow your search. Now you’re on the right track:

Anyone who’s ever run a Google search understands this, but there’s an important point here that we often overlook. Whenever you string together more than one word in a Google search, Google connects them with a logical AND. This is true of both keywords and operators. If you combine operators, Google will assume that you meant AND and will try to meet all conditions.

3. Mind special characters

tesla ac/dc

Let’s say you want to specifically find pages with the phrase “ac/dc”, so you try the search above:

Notice the highlighted words – Google has returned anything matching “AC” and “DC” separately. In this case, they’ve treated the forward slash as the same as a space, which probably isn’t what you intended.

4. Force exact match with quotes

tesla “ac/dc”

By putting quotation marks around a phrase, you can force an exact-match search. This requires Google to match the specific, full phrase – with all terms and in the order specified:

This is a lot closer to what you probably expected. Notice the highlighting in the second result, where Google seems to have matched “AC-DC”. This is a lot closer than the previous attempt, but Google is still taking some liberties …read more

Source:: Moz Blog