Blog category pages should be indexed
Google Search Operators: The Complete List (42 Advanced Operators)
Here's a google search operator that you may be familiar with.
the "site:" operator limits results to results from a specific website.
Most search operators are easy to remember. They are short commands that are remembered.
But knowing how to use them effectively is a whole different story.
Most SEOs know the basics, but few have really mastered them.
In this post, I'm going to share 15 actionable tips to help you master search operators for SEO. These 15 tips are:
- Find indexing errors on your website
- Find problems with insecure sites (non-https)
- Find duplicate content problems
- Find unwanted files and pages on your website
- Find opportunities for guest posts
- Find opportunities for resource pages
- Find pages that contain infographics ... so you can introduce your own
- Find more link potentials. ... AND check how relevant they really are
- Find social profiles for contacting potential partners
- Find internal linking options
- Find PR opportunities by finding competitor mentions
- Find paid mail options
- Find Q + A topics related to your content
- Find out how often your competitors post new content
- Find websites that link to your competitors
But first, here's a full list of all of the Google search operators and their functionality.
Google Search Operators: The Complete List
Did you know that Google is constantly getting rid of useful operators?
a 2013 article from searchengineland.com announcing the demise of Google's tilde (~) search operator.
Because of this, most of the existing lists from Google search operators are out of date and inaccurate.
For this post, I personally tested EVERY search operator I could find
Here is a full list of all working, non-working, and "times-working-times-not-working" Google Advanced Search Operators as of 2018.
Force an exact search. Use this option to refine the results for ambiguous searches or to exclude synonyms when searching for individual words.
Example: "Steve jobs"
Search for X or Y. This will return results related to X or Y or both. Note: The pipe operator (|) can also be used instead of “OR”.
example: jobs OR gates / jobs | gates
Search for X and Y. This will only return results related to both X and Y. (Note: It doesn't make much of a difference in normal searches because Google uses “AND” by default anyway. But it's very useful when combined with other operators).
example: jobs AND gates
Exclude a term or phrase. In our example, all of the returned pages are related to jobs, but not to Apple (the company).
Example: jobs ‑apple
Acts like a placeholder and fits every word or phrase.
Example: steve * apple
Group multiple terms or search operators together to control how the search is performed.
Example: (ipad OR iphone) apple
Search for prices. Also works for Euro (€), but not for GBP (£) 🙁
Example: ipad $ 329
Basically a dictionary built into Google. This shows the meaning of a word in a card-like result in the SERPs.
Example: define: entrepreneur
Returns the last cache for a web page (assuming the page is indexed).
Example: cache: apple.com
Limits the results to those of a specific file type. E.g. PDF, DOCX, TXT, PPT, etc. Note: The operator "ext:" can also be used - the results are identical.
Example: apple filetype: pdf / apple ext: pdf
Limits the results to the results of a specific website.
Example: site: apple.com
Find sites related to a specific domain.
Example: related: apple.com
Find pages with a specific word (or words) in the title. In our example, all results that contain either “apple” or “iphone” in the title tag are returned.
Example: intitle: apple iphone
Similar to "intitle", but only results that all contain words specified in the title tag are returned.
Example: allintitle: apple iphone
Search for pages with a specific word (or words) in the url. In this example, all results that contain either “apple” or “iphone” in the URL are returned.
Example: inurl: apple iphone
Similar to "inurl", but only results that all containing words specified in the URL are returned.
Example: allinurl: apple iphone
Search for pages that contain a specific word (or words) anywhere in the content. In this example, all results that contain either “apple” or “iphone” in the page content are returned.
Example: intext: apple iphone
Similar to "intext", but only results that all specified words anywhere on the page are returned.
Example: allintext: apple iphone
Area search. Find pages that contain two words or phrases within X words of each other. For this example, the words “apple” and “iphone” must be present in the content and no more than four words apart.
example apple AROUND (4) iphone
Find the current weather for a specific location. This is shown in a weather snippet, but also provides results from other "weather" websites.
example weather: san francisco
See stock information (e.g. price, etc.) for a specific ticker.
example stocks: aapl
Force Google to show map results for a location search.
example map: silicon valley
Find information about a specific movie. Also finds the showing times of the film if the film is currently being shown in your area.
example movie: steve jobs
Convert one unit to another. Works with currencies, weights, temperatures, etc.
example $ 329 in GBP
Find news results from a specific source in Google News.
example apple source: the_verge
Not directly a search operator, but serves as a placeholder for Google Autocomplete.
Example: apple CEO _ jobs
Here are the ones that according to my tests sometimes work and sometimes don't:
Search for a range of numbers. The following example returns searches for “WWDC Videos” for 2010-2014, but not for 2015 and beyond.
example wwdc video 2010..2014
Finds pages that are linked with a specific anchor text. This example returns all results with inbound links that contain either “apple” or “iphone” in the anchor text.
example inanchor: apple iphone
Similar to "inanchor", but only results that all specified words contained in the anchor text are returned.
example allinanchor: apple iphone
Find blog urls under a specific domain. This was used in google blog search, but I've found it to return some results in normal search.
example blogurl: microsoft.com
Find results from a specific area.
example loc: ”san francisco” apple
Find news from a specific location in Google News.
example loc: ”san francisco” apple
Here are Google's search operators that have been discontinued and have stopped working. 🙁
Force an exact search for a single word or phrase.
example jobs + apple
Include synonyms. Doesn't work as Google now includes synonyms by default. (Note: use double quotes to exclude synonyms.)
example ~ apple
Find blog posts written by a specific author. This only worked in Google Blog search, not normal Google search.
Example inpostauthor: ”steve jobs”
Similar to “inpostauthor”, but eliminates the need for quotation marks (if you want to search for a specific author, including last name).
Example allinpostauthor: steve jobs
Find blog posts with specific words in the title. No longer works because this operator was only valid for the set Google Blog search.
Example intitle: apple iphone
Search for pages that point to a specific domain or URL. Google got rid of this operator in 2017, but it's still showing some results - they are likely not particularly accurate, however.(Discontinued in 2017)
example link: apple.com
Find information about a specific page including its last cache, related pages, etc. (Discontinued in 2017). Note: The id: operator can also be used - the results are identical.
example info: apple.com / id: apple.com
Find results from a specific date range. Uses Julian date format for some reason.
example daterange: 11278-13278
Find a phone number for a specific name. (Discontinued in 2010)
example phonebook: tim cook
Look for #hashtags. Introduced for Google+; now no longer valid.
15 Actionable Ways to Use Google Search Operators
Now let's look at a few ways to use these operators in practice.
1. Find indexing errors
Google indexing errors exist for most pages
A page to be indexed may not be. Or vice versa.
Let's use the "site:" operator to see how many pages Google is for ahrefs.com has indexed.
But how many of these pages are blog posts?
Let's find out.
~ 249. That's about ¼.
I know the Ahrefs blog inside out, so I know this is higher than the number of posts we have.
Let's do some more research.
OK so it seems some strange pages are being indexed.
(This page isn't even live - it's a 404.)
Such pages should be removed from the SERPs by setting them to noindex.
Let's also limit the search to subdomains and see what we can find.
~ 731 results.
Here is a page that is on a subdomain that definitely shouldn't be indexed. It returns a 404 error.
Here are some other ways to uncover indexing errors using Google operators:
- site: yourblog.com/category - finds WordPress blog category pages;
- site: yourblog.com inurl: tag - finds WordPress “tag” pages.
2. Finding non-secure pages (non-https)
HTTPs is an absolute must these days, especially for e-commerce sites.
But did you know that you can use the "site:" operator to find unsafe pages?
Let's try it out for asos.com.
Oh dear, ~ 2.47M unsafe sites.
It looks like ASOS isn't currently using SSL - incredible for such a large website.
But here's another crazy thing:
ASOS is in both the https- as well as in the http-Version available.
And we found all of this with a simple "site:" search!
3. Find duplicate content problems
Double content = bad.
Here is a pair of ASOS "Abercrombie and Fitch" jeans that contain the following brand description:
Such third-party brand descriptions are often duplicated on other websites.
But first I want to know how many times this text appears asos.com appears.
Now I wonder if this text is unique to ASOS at all.
No he is not.
That's 15 other pages with exactly the same text - i.e. duplicate content.
Sometimes duplicate content issues can arise on similar product pages as well.
For example, similar or identical products with different quantities.
Here is an example from ASOS:
You can see that other than the quantities, all of these product pages are the same.
But duplicate content is not just a problem for e-commerce sites.
If you have a blog, people could steal your content and republish it without crediting the source.
Let's see if someone stole our list of SEO tips and republished it.
~ 17 results.
Most of this is likely to be merged content.
Still, it's worth checking these out to make sure they link back to you.
Content Explorer> In Title> Enter the title of your page / post> Exclude your own website.
You will then see all pages (from our database with more than 900 million contents) with the same title as your page / post.
In this case there are 5 results.
Next, enter your domain under "Highlight unlinked domains".
This will highlight any websites that don't link to you.
You can then contact these sites and request the addition of a source link.
For your information, this filter actually looks for links at a domain level, not a page level. It is therefore possible that the website is not pointing to the relevant page on your website, but to another page.
4. Find strange files on your domain (that you may have forgotten).
Keeping track of everything on your website can be difficult.
(This is especially true for large websites.)
Because of this, it's easy to forget about old files that you may have uploaded.
PDF files, Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, text files, etc.
Let's use the “filetype:” operator to point to ahrefs.com to look for these.
Here is one of those files:
I've never seen this content before. You?
But we can extend this beyond just PDF files.
By combining several operators it is possible to get results for all supported file types at once.
It is important to delete these if you would prefer people not to find them.
5. Find opportunities for guest posting
Opportunities for guest posting - there are tons of opportunities to find them.
Here is one:
But you already knew this method, right !? 😉
So let's get more creative.
First, don't limit yourself to “write for us”.
You can also use:
- "Contribute to it"
- "Write for me" (yes, there are solo bloggers who are also looking for guest posts!)
- "Guidelines for Guest Posts"
- inurl: guest post
- inurl: Contributor guest posting guidelines
But here's a cool tip that most people overlook:
You can look for many of them at once.
You can even search for multiple occurrences AND multiple keywords.
Are you looking for opportunities in a specific country?
All you have to do is add the "site: -tld" operator.
Here is another method:
If you know a regular guest blogger in your niche, try the following:
This will find every page that person wrote for.
Content Explorer > Author search> exclude their page (s)
For this example we will use our own Tim Soulo.
BOOM. 17 results. All are likely guest posts.
For comparison: Here is the exact search I entered in the Content Explorer:
author: “tim soulo” -site: ahrefs.com -site: bloggerjet.com
Basically, it is looking for contributions by Tim Soulo.But it also excludes posts from ahrefs.com and bloggerjet.com (Tim's personal blog).
Note. Sometimes you will find a few wrong hits here. It depends on how common the person's name is.
But don't stop here: that's not all:
You can also use Content Explorer to find pages in your niche that have never linked to you.
Content Explorer> Enter a topic> one article per domain> mark unlinked domains
Here is one of the unlinked domains I found for ahrefs.com:
This means that marketingprofs.com has never linked to us.
We don't know if you have a "write for us" page from this search or not. But most sites are usually happy to accept guest posts if they can be offered "high quality" content. It is therefore worthwhile in any case to turn to such sites and "pitch" content to them.
Another benefit of using Content Explorer is that you can see statistics for each page, including:
- # of RDs;
- Organic traffic estimate;
- Social shares;
You can also simply export the results 🙂
Finally, if you are wondering whether or not a particular website accepts guest posts, try this:
6. Find opportunities for resource pages
The "Resource" pages bring together the best resources on a topic.
This is what a so-called "resources" page looks like:
All of these links you see = links to resources on other sites.
(Ironically, considering the subject of this particular page, many of these links are broken).
So if you have a cool resource on your website you can:
- find relevant "resource" pages;
- "Pitch" your resource for inclusion in the listing
Here's a way to find this:
But that can turn out a lot of junk.
Here's a cool way to narrow down the result:
Or narrow it down further with:
I know what you're thinking:
Why not use the #… # operator instead of this long sequence of numbers?
Let us try it:
Here's the point:
This operator does not mix well with most other operators.
Plus, it doesn't seem to work very often anyway - it's definitely a hit and miss.
So I recommend using a sequence of numbers separated by "OR" or the pipe operator ("|").
It's a bit of a nuisance, but it works.
7. Find pages that contain infographics ... so you can pitch YOURS.
Infographics have a bad rap.
Probably because a lot of people create low-quality, cheap infographics that have no real purpose other than "attracting links".
But infographics aren't always bad.
Here is the general strategy for infographics:
- Create infographic
- "Pitching" infographic
- is presented, receives link (and PR!)
But who should you take your infographic to?
Just any old pages in your niche?
You should target sites that are likely to want to showcase your infographic.
The best way to do this is to find websites that have previously used infographics.
But that, too, can produce a lot of garbage.
So here's a quick trick:
- use the search above to find a good, relevant infographic (e.g. well designed, etc.).
- Find that specific infographic
Here is an example:
~ 2 results from the last 3 months were found. And more than 450 results for all periods.
Do this for a handful of infographics and you'll have a good list of potential prospects.
Have you ever noticed that when an infographic is embedded in a website, the website owner usually puts the word "infographic" in square brackets in the title tag?
Unfortunately, Google search ignores square brackets (even if they are in quotation marks).
But not the Content Explorer.
Content Explorer > Search query> "AND [infographic]"
You can also simply export these (with all associated metrics).
8. Find more link potentials. ... AND check how relevant they are really are.
Let's say you've found a website that you want a link from.
It was manually checked for relevance ... and everything looks good.
To find a list of similar websites or pages:
This gave ~ 49 results - all of which were similar websites.
Let's try our link building guide.
That's ~ 45 results, all of which are very similar. 🙂
Here is one of the results: yoast.com/seo-blog
I'm pretty familiar with Yoast so I know it's a relevant page / prospect.
But let's assume I don't know anything about this site, how could I quickly check this prospect?
- do a search for site: domain.com and note the number of results;
- do a search for site: domain.com [niche] and then make a note of the number of results;
- Divide the second number by the first - if it's above 0.5, it's a good, relevant prospect. If it's above 0.75, it's a super-relevant prospect.
Let's try that with yoast.com.
Here is the number of results for a simple "site:": - Search:
And site: [niche]:
So this is 3,950 / 3,330 = ~0.84.
(Remember that anything> 0.75 usually equates to a very relevant prospect).
Now let's try the same for a page that I know is irrelevant: greatist.com.
Number of results found for site: greatist.com: ~18,000
Number of results for searching site: greatist.com SEO: ~ 7
(18,000 / 7 = ~ 0.0004 = a completely irrelevant page)
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