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Google Advanced Search Operators

One caveat to this post, if you go clicking all the links Google may restrict your access to their results for a while thinking that you are a robot. This is because the operators below are not typically used by “normal” searchers but are used by programs that perform automated queries of Google which is strictly prohibited.

Google has many advanced search operators.  Over the years I’ve found lots of great information by digging just a little deeper with these extra queries.  I’ll break them down below:

allinanchor:
Starting a search with this string will restrict results to pages containing the terms you  specified in the anchor text of links on the page.  A search for allinanchor:seomike will return only pages with the word “seomike” in a link somewhere on the page.

allintext:
This query makes Google show results containing the text you specify.  For example, a search for allintext:seomike kansas city will display pages that contain the text “seomike” “kansas” and “city.”

allintitle:
This query will make Google display only the pages which contain the text you specify in the title of the pages.  The title is what is displayed at the top of your browser, and usually as the blue link in the Google search results.  A search for allintitle:seomike will produce only pages that have “seomike” in their titles.

allinurl:
Allinurl Google will display results containing all the words you entered in the page or site URL.  For example a search for allinurl:contact seomike will deliver www.seomike.com/contact.html.

book:
This query allows you to search the text of a book.

cache:
The query chache: plus a URL will display Google’s cache of a webpage.  For example, cache:www.seomike.com will display Google’s cache of my webiste.  You will also be able to see the last time Google cached my page.  TIP: you can check the “text-only” version of the cache to see if a website is doing any Google Cloaking.  (Google Cloaking means displaying something that only Google will see and is a blackhat technique. Usually the only way that you can see if a website is cloaking is by checking Google’s text cache.)

[city] [city]
By entering two cities right next to each other you can search flights between those cities.  For example. kansas city washington dc will allow you to search flight times between the two cities on a date range you specify.  It’s pretty much useless because all it does is send your request to a third party site anyway.  Might as well start there.

define:
You can check for Google’s definition of a word or phrase by starting a search with this query.  A search for define:seo will show definitions.

filetype:
Filetype has to be one of my favorites.  You can find all kinds of things with this query.  One thing that is particularly interesting is to run this against a competitor’s website searching for files that shouldn’t be there such as PSD, DOC, XLS, etc.  For example, If someone uses a “production” folder on their site to collaborate with a designer but doesn’t delete the directory or block it with robots.txt, you can get all kinds of production notes, design drafts, memos, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.  You might even find a site redesign in progress.   This is a really sneaky little trick and if you’re reading this, congrats – you found a little golden nugget of electronic corporate competitive intelligence collection.  I won’t tell you the exact query that makes this happen, but you can figure it out from this list.

info:
The info query is a little lame.  It just displays the Google listing for a website.  Check it here: info:www.seomike.com

intext:
The intext operator will display all documents that contain the text you’re looking for.  If you further modify the query by adding quotes around your search phrase, you’ll get an exact match.  An example of this would be intext:”browser ubiquity testing” which returns a bunch of my blog entries on the topic.  Without the quotes, the results are littered with barely relevant results.  I find this query works best with the quotes.

intitle:
The operator intitle restricts the results to only pages that contain a specified word in the page title.  Remember, page title is defined in the TITLE tag and is displayed in the top of your browser and as the blue link in Google.  For example, you can find every page where I discuss browser ubiquity testing with this string; browser ubiquity” intitle:seomike Without the quotes Google will pull pages with either word of the phrase and the whole phrase.  In this example I wanted pages that list exactly “browser ubiquity.”

inurl:
Using this query will restrict google results to a certain website which contains the specified search term in the URL.  For example, inurl:seomike will display all pages that contain “seomike” in the URL.  You can further hone this query by including a specific website to search like this: inurl:seomike site:www.dmoz.org which will return any pages with “seomike” in the url.

link:
The query link: is awesome.  It shows a list of links from third party websites to the site you specify.  However, the info presented is often used in link development so Google doesn’t display a complete list of the links they know about.  An example query would be link:www.seomike.com.  Notice that the list isn’t very long.  I know for sure, from Webmaster Tools, that Google is aware of far more links than they are displaying.  If you need this information about a competitor for your link building campaign, you can go to Yahoo and use their linkdomain: command.  Unlike Google, Yahoo tells you everything they know.

location:
I’ve been leaving out queries that only work in Google News and Google Groups, but this one is kind of fun.  I am not sports fan – in fact I hate basketball – but there is a great example of this functionality right now.  A query in Google News for lebron james location:cleveland returns news articles on lebron from sources in cleveland.  Similarly, lebron james location: miami will show you what news sources in Miami are saying about him.  It’s a fun example because there’s so much anger in Cleveland, but so much love in Miami.

movie:
The movie query doesn’t function like it did originally when it was announced in 2005.  When it first came out you could input a string like movie: man talks to horse and it would look through all the movies that ever were to find ones with that kind of subject.  It was great because you could search for movies with sweet car chases or dog fights and Google would make suggestions for movies you might like to see.  Now, the movie query only seems to respond with current films and displays results for theaters nearby playing that movie.

phonebook:
The query phonebook is pretty fun because it will display all results of publicly available phone numbers  it knows.  A fun query is; phonebook: george bush tx which comes up with George W. as the first result.  I didn’t have the guts to call it, but feel free.  I did check the location on Google Maps and there is no data listed.  This happens sometimes with “high value” people… their stuff isn’t on the map.  It may be his number, it may not be.

related:
The related query will show a list of websites that Google thinks are related to your website.  This can be a pretty interesting way of judging your content and external link optimization efforts.  Is Google getting what you’re telling it?  A search for related:www.seomike.com shows that Google believes that my website is related to SEO by displaying other SEO websites in the listing.  Good job Google.

site:
The site query is a very useful tool.  The results displayed are a list of the pages that Google is aware of for a website.  It’s also interesting to see how Google ranks the pages against each other which, with a little investigation, can tell you a lot about your content optimization and link building efforts.  You can also tell if Google is having a lot of trouble accessing your website.  site:www.seomike.com shows a list of all the pages on my website.

weather:
The weather query is pretty straightforward.  This search is most effective when used in combination with your zip code.  weather:66211 will show you the weather for us today.

This has been quite a long post.  Thanks for hanging in there.  Remember, there are lots of combinations of the queries above that will work.  You just have to play around with them to refine your search until you get exactly what you’re looking for.  Happy hunting!

4 thoughts on “Google Advanced Search Operators”

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  2. Nice list. I didn’t know about the ‘phonebook:’ operator. I’ll definitely use it since I recycle my paper phone books before they make it off the doorstep. A laptop takes up less space. I’ll stick with that. 🙂

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