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What Are Google Search Operators?

Google search operators are special characters and commands (sometimes called “advanced operators”) that extend the capabilities of regular text searches. Search operators can be useful for everything from content research to technical SEO audits.

How do I use search operators?

You can enter search operators directly into the Google search box, just as you would a text search:

“Google search operators” site:socialbizsolutions.com


Except in special cases (such as the “in” operator), Google will return standard organic results.

Google search operators cheat sheet

You can find all of the major organic search operators below, broken up into three categories: “Basic”, “Advanced”, and “Unreliable”. Basic search operators are operators that modify standard text searches.

I. Basic Search Operators
” “ “nikola tesla”
Put any phrase in quotes to force Google to use exact-match. On single words, prevents synonyms.
OR tesla OR edison
Google search defaults to logical AND between terms. Specify “OR” for a logical OR (ALL-CAPS).
| tesla | edison
The pipe (|) operator is identical to “OR”. Useful if your Caps-lock is broken 🙂
( ) (tesla OR edison) alternating current
Use parentheses to group operators and control the order in which they execute.
tesla -motors
Put minus (-) in front of any term (including operators) to exclude that term from the results.
* tesla “rock * roll”
An asterisk (*) acts as a wild-card and will match on any word.
#..# tesla announcement 2015..2017
Use (..) with numbers on either side to match on any integer in that range of numbers.
$ tesla deposit $1000
Search prices with the dollar sign ($). You can combine ($) and (.) for exact prices, like $19.99.
€9,99 lunch deals
Search prices with the Euro sign (€). Most other currency signs don’t seem to be honored by Google.
in 250 kph in mph
Use “in” to convert between two equivalent units. This returns a special, Knowledge Card style result.

Advanced search operators are special commands that modify searches and may require additional parameters (such as a domain name). Advanced operators are typically used to narrow searches and drill deeper into results.

II. Advanced Search Operators
intitle: intitle:”tesla vs edison”
Search only in the page’s title for a word or phrase. Use exact-match (quotes) for phrases.
allintitle: allintitle: tesla vs edison
Search the page title for every individual term following “allintitle:”. Same as multiple intitle:’s.
inurl: tesla announcements inurl:2016
Look for a word or phrase (in quotes) in the document URL. Can combine with other terms.
allinurl: allinurl: amazon field-keywords nikon
Search the URL for every individual term following “allinurl:”. Same as multiple inurl:’s.
intext: intext:”orbi vs eero vs google wifi”
Search for a word or phrase (in quotes), but only in the body/document text.
allintext: allintext: orbi eero google wifi
Search the body text for every individual term following “allintext:”. Same as multiple intexts:’s.
filetype: “tesla announcements” filetype:pdf
Match only a specific file type. Some examples include PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT, and TXT.
related: related:nytimes.com
Return sites that are related to a target domain. Only works for larger domains.
AROUND(X) tesla AROUND(3) edison
Returns results where the two terms/phrases are within (X) words of each other.

Unreliable operators have either been found to produce inconsistent results or have been deprecated altogether. The “link:” operator was officially deprecated in early 2017. It appears that “inanchor:” operators are still in use, but return very narrow and sometimes unreliable results. Use link-based operators only for initial research.

III. Unreliable/Deprecated Operators
~ ~cars
Include synonyms. Seems to be unreliable, and synonym inclusion is default now.
+ +cars
Force exact-match on a single phrase. Deprecated with the launch of Google+.
daterange: tesla announcements daterange:2457663-2457754
Return results in the specified range. Can be inconsistent.
link: link:nytimes.com
Find pages that link to the target domain. This operator was deprecated in early 2017.
inanchor: inanchor:”tesla announcements”
Find pages linked to with the specified anchor text/phrase. Data is heavily sampled.
allinanchor: allinanchor: tesla announcements
Find pages with all individual terms after “inanchor:” in the inbound anchor text.

Note that, for all of the “allin…:” operators, Google will try to apply the operator to every term following it. Combining “allin…:” operators with any other operators will almost never produce the desired results.

Search Operator Tips & Tricks

Having all of the pieces is only the first step in building a puzzle. The real power of search operators comes from combining them.

1. Chain together operator combos

You can chain together almost any combination of text searches, basic operators, and advanced operators:

"nikola tesla" intitle:"top 5..10 facts" -site:youtube.com inurl:2015

This search returns any pages that mention “Nikola Tesla” (exact-match), have the phrase “Top (X) facts” in the title, where X ranges from 5 to 10, are not on YouTube.com, and have “2015” somewhere in the URL.

2. Hunt down plagiarized content

Trying to find out if your content is unique or if someone is plagiarizing you? Use a unique phrase from your text, put it in quotes (exact-match) after an “intext:” operator, and exclude your own site with “-site:”…

intext:"they were frolicking in our entrails" -site:socialbizsolutions.com

Similarly, you can use “intitle:” with a long, exact-match phrase to find duplicate copies of your content.

3. Audit your HTTP->HTTPS transition

Switching a site from HTTP to HTTPS can be challenging. Double-check your progress by seeing how many of each type of page Google has indexed. Use the “site:” operator on your root domain and then exclude HTTPS pages with “-inurl:”…

site:socialbizsolutions.com -inurl:https

This will help you track down any stragglers or find pages that might not have been re-crawled by Google.