Using Google Search Operators

Using Google Search Operators

Google search operators can help you narrow down your search results to find more specific information.

In this article, we will explain what Google search operators are and how they are used, as well as introduce you to some basic, advanced, and other search operators.

What Are Google Search Operators?

Google Search Operators (also known as “advanced operators”) are a combination of special words and/or characters that can be added to a given search term in order to enable you to get more granular results.

They are used to narrow down and refine search results so they share more specific information that likely wouldn’t show up with a normal query, which makes Google search results more accurate and effective. 

These refined search queries can be used in almost any Google search box. 

Basic Google Search Operators

Below is a list of search operators that work with Google’s basic search functions. 

  • “ ”: Putting any term or phrase inside quotation marks can force Google to only show exact matches for that term or phrase.
  • OR: Tells Google to use OR instead of the default AND between search terms
  • |: Pipe separators return the same results as OR.
  • (): Can be used to group operators together as well as control the order in which operators are executed.
  • : Dashes or minus signs can be placed in front of any term to exclude that term from the search results.
  • *: This is a commonly used wild card symbol that widens a search by finding words that start with the same letters.
  • #..#: Using (..) with numbers on either side of it will match any integer within that given range of numbers.
  • $: The dollar sign operator allows you to search for prices in dollars.
  • : The euro sign operator allows you to search for prices in euros.
  • In: can be used to convert numbers between two equivalents.
  • author: Can help you find results that include articles by the author you specify.
  • define: Using the define search operator tells Google to only show definitions from pages on the web for the term that follows the operator in your search. 
  • cache: Placing cache: before a URL will display Google’s cached version of a web page instead of the current version of the page.

Advanced Google Search Operators

Some search operators can only be used with a Google advanced search.

These operators include:

  • intitle: restricts results to documents containing the term in the title.
  • allintitle: limits results to only those containing all the query terms you specify in the title.
  • inurl: results are limited to documents that contain that word in the URL.
  • allinurl: only shows results that contain all the query terms you specify in the URL.
  • intext: Only documents containing the term in the text are shown in the results.
  • allintext: Like intext, but only shows results that contain all of the words you specified.
  • insubject: restricts search results to articles that contain the terms you specify in the subject.
  • filetype: Using the filetype operator will limit results to pages whose names end in your specified filetype suffix.
  • location: Using this operator in a Google News search means that only articles from the specified location will be shown in results.
  • related: This will return a list of web pages that are similar to the web page you specify.
  • AROUND(X): The (X) stands for a number. This operator limits results to those where the two terms or phrases are within (X) words of each other.

Unreliable and Deprecated Operators

Not all search operators are reliable, and some have even been deprecated by Google altogether.

Below is a list of operators that may not work or return inconsistent results if used:

  • ~: Returns results that include synonyms for the term you specify.
  • +: This operator can be used to force exact matches for a single term or phrase.
  • daterange: an inconsistent search operator that returns results published within the specified date range.   
  • link: Tells Google to show pages that point to the specified URL.
  • inanchor: Restricts results to pages containing the query term you specify in the anchor text or links to the page.
  • allinanchor: This will tell Google to only show results to pages containing all the query terms you specify in the anchor text on links to the page.

Tips for Using Google Search Operators

Google search operators can be helpful when you need to find refined results.

Below we share some tips for how to use them effectively. 

Combine Search Operators 

Just about all basic and advanced Google search operators can be combined to further refine your search results. 

If using one search operator does not produce your desired results, sometimes adding one or more others can help you find the information you are seeking. 

Remove Spaces 

For best results, remove any unnecessary spaces between terms, phrases, and search operators.

The cleaner your search query, the better your results will be. 

Exclude Low-Value Terms or Phrases

If a term or phrase does not have high value, it might be best to leave it out of your searches. 

If you don’t want to leave a word out, you can also use a hyphen to separate words and avoid content that isn’t helpful.

Find Plagiarized Content

Plagiarism is unfortunate, but there is not really much you can do to prevent it from happening. 

The good news is you can use search operators to track down any plagiarized content.

A good way to do this is to use the “intext” operator to search for a phrase outside your own site.

If you want your search results to be more refined, or need to find very specific information, Google search operators can be a useful tool. 

Next time you need to narrow down your search results, find an operator you think applies to the information you are looking for, then try combining it with your search terms and phrases. 

Looking to expand your knowledge of how Google search works? Check out Search Intent and SEO.

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