The internet has connected us like never before, providing a vast wealth of information at our fingertips that is accessible 24/7. To discover that information, most of us rely on the complex algorithms of search engines to serve up the content we seek, with search results proposed based on matches between our search queries and the structuring of information within a given webpage.
While it's easy to find answers to our most common and general queries, it can be frustrating when searching for a more specific set of information. With billions of web pages making up the world wide web, countless more being added daily, and an increasing number of content producers competing to get to the top of the search results, advanced search methods are becoming increasingly key to getting better search results.
One of these advanced search methods is the employment of search operators. These are specific terms that can be used to narrow or expand a search. Since Google is the most used search engine, accounting for 67% of all searches, here are five search operators that can help you search smarter and find exactly what you're looking for with Google.
1. Exclude a word or site (-search)
Use a dash in your search to exclude certain words, sites, and their related topics from turning up in your results. This can help limit your results when searching for a word that is used for multiple applications.
Example: marketing –email
This will return results related to marketing, but not email marketing.
2. Number range (..)
Put a pair of periods between two numbers. This search operator will return results that fit the range of numbers you specify. This can be useful when conducting an advanced search for dates, prices, or lists.
Example: 3..10 marketing ideas
This will return results that are lists of articles sharing between 3 and 10 marketing ideas.
3. Wildcard/variable (*)
Use an asterisk in your search to denote a wildcard or variable. This search operator adds a placeholder to your search and can be especially useful in conducting keyword research. Wildcard searches will return a significantly more diverse set of results than a standard search.
Example: business * communications
This will expand your keyword research by returning nearly seven times as many results as compared to querying business communications alone.
4. Search within a site (site: )
Use the site operator to search within a specific site, or to limit results to specific domains. This is particularly useful if a company you’re interested in doesn’t have a search function on their website, or if you want to limit your results to credible resources like universities and government agencies.
Example: small business regulations site:mass.gov
This will return results related to small business regulations that come directly from the government of Massachusetts.
5. Search for pages that link to a url (link: )
Use the link operator to find pages that link to a particular URL. This is useful if you ever want to measure the power of your digital referral network. You can use this operator to get an idea of how many sites are linking to your website, or a specific page on your website.
This will show you pages that link back to the Inbound Marketing experts over at HubSpot.
Jason, for the team at Kendall Press