Nothing seems easier than Google search. Simply type in the search word or phrase into Google’s famous search box and voilà! The search engine offers lots of links for the searched topic. However, the SERP doesn’t always show you exactly what you’re looking for.
The nerd therefore asked, together with his Berliner SEO agency team with which tips, tricks and gimmicks they could elicit from the Google search. The results is this report, that could also have the title “How to google properly”. At the end of this text you can find a PDF to download with the most important Google search commands.
How Google search is related to collecting data
Assumingly there are only a few people in your surroundings that are as keen to understand you as Google does. Admittedly, your surroundings have it easier than the Google search function. The people around can usually understand rather fast what your intending with a question. This definitely is the case when you meet in person.
Mimics tone and gestures give a lot about our intentions away. Plus you know each other. The simple question “How are you?” can call for completely different answers depending on the situation. You’ll answer a stranger more politely and in general terms than a friend who you’d probably tell everything in more detail and more emotionally.
Which answer is sensible for a question is not determined by the question itself but by the circumstances in which the question was asked. For this reason, Google tries to recognise as precisely as possible, when, where and out of which context the search engine is engaged for.
The company from Silicon Valley “takes note of” our previous searches, what preferences and interests we have, and so on. These data help Google understand better, what we “mean”. That with this collecting of data other interests and risks are interconnected and that Google has a special responsibility regarding the collected data is out of question and doesn’t need to be discussed further. It’s only important to stress that Google needs additional data in order to understand what we are looking for. With the following tips we can support Google searching – metaphorically speaking, communicate with the search engine as if you’re using mimics, voice and gestures.
General Tips for Google Search
As soon as you type in any search term web links appear on the SERP (search engine result page) which Google thinks we’re meaning to find. Underneath the search tabs appear which we can use to refine our search: web, images, videos, news, etc.
Using these search tabs often enables us to refine our search to a quick, satisfying result. If “search options” is clicked on the tab further tabs open up which we can refine the search in terms of space and time more precisely with.
Spelling in Google Search
If something is written small or in capitals doesn’t interest the search engine. Also punctuation characters like questions or exclamation marks are ignored, as well as symbols like @#%^*()=. If you misspell something by accident or don’t know how to spell it Google usually offers the correct spelling automatically. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you write a word together or with a hyphen, either.
In the “search options” tab you can switch off this function in the sub-menu “all results” by choosing “literally”.
Generally, you should use terms for searching that are likely to find websites with a corresponding competence. The search term “tooth ache” will lead more directly to medical websites than the colloquial “my teeth are hurting”. Furthermore you should start with only one term in general. Step by step you can make you search more precise by adding more words.
Google Search operators to refine your search
Operators – sounds like maths and difficult. Although this term actually does have its origin from maths, using operators in Google search is easy as pi(e). Everything you need to know for that is when and for what each operator is used for (and if you don’t want to learn them you know now you can always look them up here).
The operator must be written without spaces before the search term. However, there must be a space before the operator.
Quotations marks „“
This gives Google the command to search exactly for the word order entered. Ideal is this search operator, if you are looking for a quote.
If you are searching „you can leave your hat on“, Google shows you only those pages which contain this exact phrase.
If you are missing a word from a search phrase, simply insert a star (*) as a wildcart.
The search vor you can leave your *on will lead you for example to videos and lyrics of the song.
Minus sign –
This is where you will exclude items that you want to leave out of your search.
If you are looking for John Lennon you will find pages on the SERP dealing with The Beatles. If you’re not interested in Lennon’s time with The Beatles you can leave all Beatles sites out by searching John Lennon -Beatles which enables you to focus on the (still sufficient) offers of sites about John Lennon only.
Boolean Operator OR
With this operator, you will find pages that contain one of the (at least) two entered search terms.
Thus, the search Alexanderplatz OR Fernsehturm includes all pages in which at least one of the two terms occurs. Without OR the example would show all the pages that contain both Alexanderplatz and Fernsehturm.
Two dots between numbers
Use this operator to find search results that are within a certain range of numbers. This is especially useful for product searches in a specific price range.
For example for notebook €300..600 Google shows you sites where laptops are offered, which are cost at least 300, but at most 600 euros.
Use this operator to limit your search to a particular site.
The operator also allows you to limit your search to pages from a specific country.
Fernsehturm site:co.uk lists results with pages from the UK where the word „Fernsehturm“ appears.
If you are looking for a specific document type, this operator is very helpful.
The Google Search Marketing filetype:pdf leads to PDFs on the topic of marketing – mostly as a direct download, but occasionally also to pages, on which you can download a corresponding PDF.
This of course applies to all other document types, such as doc, ppt, xls and others. The same function performs the operator ext:
This operator shows you only the search results for which the search term appears in the URL.
The SERP of the search inurl:berlin leads only to pages, in whose URL / internet address the word “Berlin” occurs.
The “in” search also works with other elements of a website. You can search the web for:
- Websites with a certain title with intitle:Suchbegriff
- Text areas in which your keyword occurs by intext:. In this case, Google really scans only the text of web pages and lets out titles, URLs or links. As high-quality content is a ranking factor anyway, well-optimized pages are found without this operator.
If several search terms are to be included in the search, add all to the beginning of the operator.
The search allinurl:Berlin Hauptstadt finds pages in whose web address all two terms occur.
If you search for pages that are similar to another page, use this operator.
So you’ll find for example with related:spiegel.de an overview of other news pages.
This operator will lose importance over kuru or long. With definition: you can directly display a definition of the search term. For many keywords, however, the Knowledge Graph already takes over this function. For less specific search terms, this operator is still very helpful at the moment.
With the search definition:linkbuilding will show you directly the definition since this keyword is not yet (!) gathered by the Knowledge Graph.
Combine search operators
In a search you can also use several search operators at the same time.
For example, if you want to find pages that contain the terms seo and nerd in the exact order in the page title, combine the allintitle: and quotation marks to allintitle:”seo nerd”
Search operators that no longer exist
Over time Google has reset some search operators. This was partly because the search engine automatically took over the respective function. For other ex-operators, however, it is not quite clear why they no longer work.
Plus sign +
With this operator, Google was told to search for all the search terms. In the early years of the search engine, this was the only way to search for multiple words.
This operator made it possible to find search results for a synonym of the entered search term. Since the RankBrain update, Google is able to provide search results on synonyms and related search queries.
If you wanted to find out which pages link to your site or another page, you could find this with link: and the respective URL. Whether this operator still works, is in the SEO scene partly controversial. The fact is, however, that hardly any examples can be found in which this operator still fulfills his task.
With this operator pages could be found that had used the entered search term in the anchor text of a backlink. From the SEO perspective, this operator was very useful for building backlinks. It was then possible to find out which pages linked with the desired keywords already (to the competition) and thus find possible link partners. Probably the operator became obsolete as Google began to undermine the importance of backlinks.
Download the most important Google Search Operators as PDF.