By Bruce Clay

Search engines have come up with additional tools called advanced search operators to give power users even more control when searching. Advanced search operators are special terms that you can insert in your search query to find specific types of information that a general search can’t provide.

Several of these operators provide useful tools for SEO experts as well as others who want very specific information or who want to restrict their search to very specific sources. These operators have a particular meaning to each of the different search engines, but not all engines accept the same operators.

Type the advanced search operators at the beginning of your search query, followed by a particular domain name (the base URL of a website, such as www.bruceclay.com). This type of query modifies the search to dig deeper into the engine’s algorithms (the mathematical formulas the search engine uses to weigh various factors and establish a website’s relevance to a search). The returned page provides entirely different results than the average search.

For example, say you type this query into a Google search box (substituting your own website domain name from yourdomain.com): [site:www.yourdomain.com]. The Google results page includes a list of the web pages that are indexed from your website only. In this particular case, the advanced operator used is [site:], followed by the site’s domain name. (You can’t put a space between the operator and the domain name.)

You have numerous operators at your fingertips that can provide significant and useful information. If you use the [site:] operator by typing [site:] into the search box before the domain name, the search engine results tell you how many pages that particular domain and its sub-domains contain, and lists those pages.

Those results can also provide information on pages that have been indexed more than once, which in turn provides information regarding duplicate content. It also provides information about pages that are being dropped out of the search engines. You can see how powerful this can be for SEO!

You can also put additional search terms in your query. For example, this search would list all the pages on the given website: [site:www.bruceclay.com]. If you were looking for something specific on the site, however, you could add more search terms to the end. For instance, to find pages on the website that contain the word training, type this: [site:www.bruceclay.com training].

The following table shows several advanced operators for Google, Yahoo, and Bing and describes their use.

Google Yahoo Bing Result
cache: Shows the version of the web page from the search
engine’s cache.
related: Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web
page.
info: Presents some information that Google has about a web
page.
define: define: or definition: define: or definition: Provides a definition of a keyword. You must insert a space
between the colon and the query in order for this operator to work
in Yahoo and Bing.
stocks: stocks: stocks: Shows stock information for ticker symbols. (Note: Enter ticker
symbols; don’t type websites or company names.)
site: site: site: Finds pages only within a particular domain and all its
sub-domains.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed
Title tag.
intitle: intitle: intitle: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of the
indexed Title tag. You must include a space between the colon and
the query for the operator to work in Bing.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. (Note:
You must include http:// in the URL you enter.)
inurl: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of their
indexed URLs.
inbody: inbody: Finds pages that include a specific keyword in their body
text.
[phrase] [phrase] [phrase] Finds instances of the exact phrase within the quotation marks
everywhere it appears within the search engine’s index.
(Note: Substitute [phrase] in the search operator with the exact
phrase you’re searching for.)
Removes results that contain the word following the minus sign.
(Note: This search operator is added on to the keyword or phrase
being searched for. It should follow the search query. For example,
the query [site:www.bruceclay.com-training] will give you all
indexed web pages on the domain without the word training on the
page.)