Google Search Operators: Helping You Hone In

Most people know Google is an incredible tool when you’re on the hunt for knowledge, power, or the nearest Starbucks. But searching for and finding exactly what you want can sometimes be harder than finding the newest viral kitten video. Luckily, there’s an answer for that.

Search-Operators-1Have you ever typed a huge, specific sentence into Google and were less than satisfied with the results? Google is pretty advanced; it uses over 200 unique signals to guess what you’re looking for. But sometimes it needs a little assistance.

In an effort to help users get exactly what they’re looking for, Google has developed search operators. These gems enable searchers to hone in on information without having to jump through searching hoops. The name of each search operator explains where it searches for the content. Users can therefore choose and define where they want to find their phrases.

Search operators have different uses. Some are optimized for all types of searches; others are only optimized for specific searches. For example, “allintext:” can be used for web, image, group, directory, news, or product searches. On the other hand, “source:” is utilized only for news searches.

We’ve created a list of search operators and their uses below. Click on the examples in each to see how they work.

Note: when you use these search operators, include the colon (:) after the operator before you write your search text.

  • allintext:
    • Uses: web search, image search, group search, directory search, news search, product search
    • Results are restricted to pages that contain all of the terms specified.
    • Example: allintext: buying a used jeep
  • allintitle:
    • Uses: web search, image search, group search, directory search, news search, product search
    • Results are restricted to webpage titles that contain all of the terms specified.
    • Example: allintitle: certified public accountant
  • cache:
    • Uses: web search
    • Cache should be used with cache: URL. This will bring up a cached or stored past version of the webpage as opposed to the current page.
  • define:
    • Uses: web search
    • Results are restricted to definitions pulled from web pages found by the search terms.
    • Example: define: cached
  • filetype: or ext:
    • Uses: web search, image search, directory search
    • Results are restricted to the type of file specified. File types can include suffixes such as pdf, doc, docx, xlsx, etc. Be sure to place the filetype search operator after the search terms but before the suffix.
    • Example: copywriting checklist filetype: pdf
  • inanchor:
    • Uses: web search
    • Similar to allinanchor:, this query looks at pages that contain your search terms in the anchor text. It may not include all of the search terms in the anchor text; other terms may be found in the content of the site.
    • Example: inanchor: must visit venice beach restaurants
    • Note the difference in search results for this query compared with the allinanchor: query.
  • info: or id:
    • Uses: web search
    • These queries are used to present information about the URL specified. This same information can be obtained by typing the web page URL directly into the search bar.
    • Example: info: yard house cincinnati
  • intext:
    • Uses: web search, group search, directory search, news search
    • Results are restricted to pages containing the term or terms of the query in the text. They may not include all terms.
    • Example: intext: buying a used jeep
    • Note the difference between these search results and those for allintext:.
  • intitle: or insubject:
    • Uses: web search, image search, group search, directory search, news search
    • Similar to allintitle:, this query limits results to pages containing the term or terms of the query in the title. It may not include all terms.
    • Example: intitle: certified public accountant
    • Note the difference between these search results and those for allintitle:.
  • inurl:
    • Uses: web search, directory search, news search
    • Similar to allinurl:, this query limits results to pages containing the term or terms of the query in a page’s URL. It may not include all terms.
    • Example: inurl: dog walking services los angeles
    • Note the difference between these search results and those for allinurl:.
  • site:
    • Uses: web search, image search
    • Results are restricted to the site or domain specified in the query.
    • Example: admissions site:www.uky.edu
  • author:
    • Uses: group search
    • Results are restricted to articles by the author specified.
    • Example: French author: kershul

If searching via the already advanced Google algorithm just isn’t getting you the results you want, try using one of these search operators to help you along.

Wondering how you’re going to remember all of these operators? Don’t strain your brain; by using Google’s Advanced Search page, you can create the same searches without having to remember the fancy wording.