November 5, 2021
For any given search, Google spews out millions of results. Usually, we pick and click an item on page one or two. But what about the other zillion hits? Might they contain valuable information? Sure they do, and Google’s search operators help you ferret them out by narrowing the field of results. Insert the search operator before the subject of the search. For example, site:bioticahealth.com social media (Note, no spaces after the colon) This search returns all of the mentions of social media that appear in the Biotica site. Do you want to know if a competitor makes a specific medical device, try site:competitorcompany whatchamagig. In total there are 41 search operators. You can find a complete list here. (https://www.semrush.com/blog/google-search-operators). For the purposes of this article, we’d like to share a few that frequently cut our time on searches.
- “Quote” a quote around a word or phrase that must appear in the results. For instance. “Mr. Ed’s Horse” would yield results much different the “Ed’s horse” or “Mister Horse Ed.” This is an easy one that will narrow down your results quickly.
- "-" The Exclusion Modifier. Use this when what you’re hunting for has a similar name or place to your search. For example, search = Hamburger Recipes -Wendy’s -McDonald’s -Rally’s –“Burger King”. In other words, don’t give me recipes from fast-food chains!
- Specify a Date. This one is worth its weight in gold if your search is technical in nature or you need the most current information. For example, search, IBS Allergen Testing –“Scratch Test”
- Search Within a Range of Numbers. For example – “Coffee Mugs” $12… $25 – or “Coffee Mugs” 8oz to 20oz.
- Find out what your competition is up to on social. @NAME-OF-PLATFORM ACCOUNT. For example, @twitter bioticahealth. This also works great with other social platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook
- Likewise, search a hashtag by inserting a… hashtag! For example, #pumpkincarving
- Boogie with a Boolean to combine search terms, for example, “TV Horses” OR “movie horses” – Mr. Ed, which also shows how you can combine more than one operator. Note: Type your Booleans in all caps, so Google doesn’t think they’re part of normal text.
- “And” is another Boolean that indicates that two or more terms must be present in the search results. For example, “Manufacturers of “Diagnostic equipment” AND Nanotechnology and “mini robots”
- Find Related Sites. Use this formulation, “related:CNN.com” to return a listing of sites with common themes. This is a great SEO tool and useful for unearthing competitors. One caveat, Google tends to offer related results for high-volume sites.
- Inurl is an operator that tells you if the URL includes specific terms. For example: InURL:”Stephen Hawkings” Black holes. Incidentally, the presence of search terms in an URL is also a positive Google ranking factor.
- Intitle:query, the Title Specific Search is similar to the InURL operator, except you’re directing Google to find specific words in the title of a page. This is another supposed ranking factor, because a keyword in a title shows that the site considers it an important topic. For example: Intitle: “Pumpkin Pie” AND “Gluten Free”
- Did you miss the big download at the Orthopedic conference? Never fear. “filetype:query” For example if your tracking down a presentation from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, your search may look like this: filetype:pdf AAOS 2021, and you’ll have a listing of all the pdfs the academy website has associated with the show.
Mastering a few of Google’s basic search operators can save you gobs of time and lead you to difficult, if not impossible to find, information. And get creative. Most of the time, two or three operators can be used in a single search, so if you want to know what Mr. Ed ate for dinner, try: “Mr. Ed” AND “talking horse” English OR Yiddish OR Mandarin. Have fun, and power to the Booleans!