If you are a seasoned marketer or looking to improve your SEO skills, using advanced search parameters is one way to improve speed and efficiency in your reporting.
What are search parameters?
Search parameters are strings of words or symbols that provide instructions for the Google search engine to perform specific functions. Whether it is to return PDF files or to find websites related to your own, if you want to conduct a more advanced search in Google, you need only enter the right parameters. Here are our top 11 search parameters that can be performed in the search bar, or inside the search string itself.
Search Bar Parameters
Using this parameter will return all indexed pages from the website provided. There is no need to include “http://www”, and there should be no spaces between the colon and the URL.
Useful for: Seeing the approximate number of pages from your website that have been indexed by Google. This is particularly beneficial when you have recently uploaded many pages and need to see if they have been indexed. It can also be used to view which pages on your website are ranked most important. Ideally, your homepage should always be returned as the first result. If other low level pages are appearing first, it may indicate that you need to start focusing on your higher level pages.
Use in conjunction with: Any query. For example: cats site:yourwebsite.com.au will return all search results from yourwebsite.com.au that contain the query ‘cats’.
#2: site:.gov / site:.com.au, etc.
Similar to searching for all results from a website, you can limit search results to their top-level domain.
Useful for: Searching for high authority link opportunities on .gov websites, or to show specific search results from a particular country.
#3: “Placing query in quotation marks”
This will search for your exact query.
Useful for: Searching for duplicate content across the web. Cut and paste snippets from your content and place them in quotation marks to see if your content has been used on other websites.
Adding a dash before any query will exclude pages that have content related to that query.
Useful for: Searching for keywords online that may be too broad or have multiple meanings. Good for when your product, service, or brand name uses a common word.
Use in conjunction with: “site:” search parameters or “in quotation mark” queries for very specific results.
Instead of showing results FROM a specific location, as shown with the site:yourwebsite.com.au parameter, the link:yourwebsite.com.au parameter will show you the search results of other pages that link to any URL.
Useful for: Relationship building – finding other related websites that have reached out to you. It is also handy for competitor research.
Trust a reliable source and want to find websites that are similar? Use this search parameter to find relevant sources of information.
Useful for: Researching and curating content for social media strategies.
Use OR (in capitals) to pull results that relate to more than one search query. For example, a search query for ‘cat OR dog’ will show you web pages about cats, or dogs, or both.
Useful for: Conducting a simultaneous search on a product or service at the same time.
#8: #.. #
Use this search parameter for search queries that have a numerical range, such as prices. Use a search query with numbers separated by two periods without any spaces. For example: baby clothes $5..$40.
Useful for: Competitor price comparisons.
This parameter will return search results that have your query in the title tag.
Useful for: Analysing the competition for targeted keywords and monitoring brand sentiment.
Use in conjunction with: Google’s search options to narrow your results according to the content type (blogs, news, discussions, and/or reviews). If browsing for brand sentiment, use your company name and minus search results generated by your domain.
Search String Parameters
Search string parameters can be entered directly in your browsers address bar. Keep in mind, that parameters are typically separated by the ampersand (&) so be sure to append one at the start of your parameter (if attaching at the end of a URL), or at the end (if inserting the parameter directly after the ‘search?’ function, as will be seen in the following examples).
Enter this in your search string parameter if you need to limit the number of search results that get shown to you.
Useful for: With the everchanging format of search results, this parameter is a lazy man’s guide to seeing whether you are in the top X search results for a targeted query.
Search for any type of file across the web, whether it is a word file, PDF document, movie, or an image.
Useful for: File maintenance – seeing whether any of your content has been used without notice on other web sites. It is also handy to see whether or not files you have uploaded (such as PDF guides) have been indexed by Google.
Use in conjunction with: ‘site:yourwebsite.com.au‘ search bar parameter.
Search bar parameter equivalent: query + filetype:extension
Turns personalised search on and off. Use ‘1’ to turn it on, or ‘0’ to turn it off.
Useful for: Checking your actual search results, without Google taking into account your previous search history. Particularly useful if you are logged into your Google account, which can interfere and include bias in your results.
These parameters (and more) can also be used in the more user friendly advanced search web page.