Google Search Operators are a powerful yet underutilised tool for SEOs. They allow you to identify issues with your indexing, opportunities for link building, and much more. More importantly, they allow you to identify these issues and opportunities with virtually no investment being necessary!
In this guide, we will be revealing a few ways our team utilise Google Search Operators. From technical optimisation to link acquisition, they play a role in virtually every aspect of our SEO services. And now, you can powerup your SEO tool belt and put them to use!
Find Indexation Issues
Whether you are performing SEO on a small brochure website or large ecommerce store, you will likely experience issues with indexing from time to time. You may find that a page that should be index, is not. Or perhaps you will find that a page that should not be index, is.
Thankfully, the “site:” operator allows you to see which of your website’s pages have been index by Google. To use this Google Search Operator, simply adjoin your URL – site:website.com. This will show you all the pages currently indexed and therefore able to be ranked in the search results.
You are also able to refine your search to only include portions of your website. For example, to view which of your website’s blog posts have been indexed simply adjoin the subdirectory’s URL – site:website.com/blog. This will only show pages that have “/blog” in their URL.
Identifying Problematic Subdomains
Subdomains can be the bane of an SEO’s life. This is particularly if they could conflict with the pages on your primary website. But subdomains will not be flagged in your Google Search Console as they are treated as a separate entity entirely.
By combining the “site:” operator with a wildcard (*) and exclusion (-) operator, you can find subdomains that should not be indexed. If we use argos.co.uk as an example, you would search for the following – site:*argos.co.uk -www. This will only show pages that are not on the “www” subdomain but still contain “argos.co.uk”.
As shown below, Argos have several subdomains being indexed. These include bolt. and chat. to name but a few. All these subdomains lead to an error page, with some being 404s. They may therefore benefit from noindexing them.
Identifying Unsecure Pages
Having an SSL certificate is essential, particularly for websites that process payment details or other personal information. But many website’s have wrongly implemented HTTPs or Google may have continued to index the non-HTTPs variant of some pages.
By combining the “site:” operator with an exclusion (-) operator, you can find pages that are unsecure. If we use topshop.com as an example, you should search for the following – site:topshop.com -inurl:https. This will only show pages on topshop.com that do not have “https” in their URL.
As shown below, Topshop have over 32,000 unsecure pages being indexed. These include product, category, and blog pages to name but a few. As most of these pages redirect you to a secure variant, it is not necessary for the non-HTTPs version to be indexed.
Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Guest posting is a great way to strengthen your brand authority and build relevant backlinks. That said, many SEOs struggle to find guest posting opportunities without existing relationships with writers, blogs, and media outlets.
Luckily, the “intitle:” operator allows you to discover other websites that are welcoming guest contributors. To use this Google Search Operator, you must mix the “intitle:” operator with a word or phrase associated with your niche – finance intitle:”write for us”. This will show you all pages that feature “write for us” in their title tag and “finance” in their content.
When using this method, remember to use other variants of “write for us”. For example, also search for pages that contain “become a contributor” and “guest post guidelines” in their title to uncover more opportunities.
Discover Country-Specific Opportunities
Many SEOs prefer to contribute to websites based in their country or at least sharing the same top-level domain. This is as their readers are more relevant and the backlink is more contextual. Therefore, increasing the value of the contribution they have made.
By combining the “intitle:” and “site:” operator, you can refine the results to those on a particular top-level domain. For example, you can restrict the results to only show those on a .co.uk domain – finance intitle:”write for us” inurl:”.co.uk”.
As shown below, this will provide you with hundreds of guest posting opportunities for websites in the finance niche and on a .co.uk domain. You would then want to review the quality and relevance of these websites before contributing to ensure they will positively aid your SEO.
Monitor Serial Guest Contributors
In certain niches, there are a handful of regular guest contributors. Identifying the websites they write for helps you to find guest posting opportunities that are highly relevant and authoritative. More importantly, it speeds us the entire process.
By combining the “intext:” and “inurl:” operator, you can quickly discover a particular writer’s author page on a variety of websites. If you wanted to discover where the talented Joshua Hardwick was publishing guest posts, you would search for the following – intext:”Joshua hardwick” inurl:”author”.
As shown below, you will be presented with a list of Joshua Hardwick’s author pages. You’re able to eliminate sites from the results by adjoining “- site:website.com” or refine your results to website’s focused on a particular subject by introducing a phrase (i.e. SEO) at the start of your search.
Find Internal Linking Opportunities
Internal linking plays an important role in both the user journey and SEO. This is as it helps both users discover relevant content and allows you to spread any link equity. Therefore, preventing external links only benefiting small sections of your website.
Recalling the contents of existing blogs, products and categories can be challenging. This is especially the case on websites with a massive catalogue of pages. As a result, internal linking opportunities are often overlooked by SEOs.
Thankfully, by using the “site:” operator you can quickly discover opportunities to introduce deep links. To use this Google Search Operator, you must combine the “site:” and “intext:” operators – site:website.com/blog intext:”linkable word”. This will show you all pages with “/blog” in the URL and “linkable word” in the content.
You can also introduce the URL exclusion (-inurl) operator to prevent the page you are hoping to build internal links to being included. For example, you can prevent a specific blog post being included in the list by searching for the following – site:website.com/blog intext:”linkable word” -site:website.com/blog/post-title.
Discover Product References
It is common for ecommerce websites to reference other items or categories within a product description. Unfortunately, copywriters will often forget to link to the product or category they are referencing. This makes it difficult for users to view that product or category without relying on the site search.
By combining the “site:” and “intext:” operators, you can check for references to a product or category in your website’s content. If we use wellworking.co.uk as an example, you would search for the following – site:wellworking.co.uk intext:”herman miller”. This will only show pages on their website where the brand “Herman Miller” is mentioned in the content.
As shown below, there are several occasions where they reference this brand that should be accompanied by a link to the brand category itself. In this example, search and filter pages are also being included in the results. To remove these, you would simply introduce the URL exclusion (-inurl) operator – site:wellworking.co.uk intext:”herman miller” -inurl:/search/.
Identify Informational References
If you have got a key blog post or resource page you want to rank, internal links pointing in its direction will help. But trawling through your back catalogue of pages and posts to find opportunities is incredibly time consuming.
By combining the “site:” and “intext:” operators, you can discover opportunities to link to your new blog post or resource page. If we use wellworking.co.uk’s recent article on adjusting an office chair as an example, you would search for the following – site:wellworking.co.uk/blog/ intext:”adjust” -inurl:/how-to-adjust-your-office-chair/. This will only show blog posts where “adjust” is mentioned but excludes the blog post you are intending to link to.
As shown below, there are several existing blog posts where they reference adjusting an office chair. These could be ideal opportunities to build a link to their new post and therefore increase its presence in the hierarchy of their website.
- Google Search Operators allow you to identify indexation issues, link building opportunities, and more with minimal fuss and little investment.
- There are dozens of Google Search Operators, which can be combined to broaden or refine the websites, pages, and content shown.
- The most useful Google Search Operators include site: , intitle: , intext: , and inurl: . Each can be used alongside a wildcard (*) and exclusion (-) operator too.