How to use Google advanced search

Posted by Jo Cameron on 11 Mar, 2015
View comments SEO
Advanced search not only helps you find what you want in record speed, it can also help uncover some great networking opportunities.

Google advanced search

Many of us are familiar with how we can manipulate Google’s results with quotation marks and negative symbols, for example: apple -mac but that’s not the whole story. By combining these functions you can find products within your price range, research competing websites, and gather guest blogging opportunities.

To get started we’ll look at building an advanced shopping query to really hone in on what you’re looking for. My search query looks like this:

luggage cabin OR hand "4 wheel" -ebay $30..$100

Which basically means:

keyword: luggage

exact phrase: “4 wheel”

containing any of these words: cabin OR hand

excluding: -ebay

price range is $30..$100

Now I’m seeing some really relevant results without having to churn through lots of options that are over budget or don’t match my specs.

You can build up a search like this quite easily using the google.com/advanced_search

However if you’re wanting to become a confident advanced searcher it’s quicker to learn the shorthand, so bookmark this for later.

Site & keyword

This helps when you kind of already know what type of content you’re after - an article from a news source of a piece of information you’ve come across before but don’t have the exact URL to hand.

“orion capsule” site:reddit.com

Or maybe you wanted to see all the mentions of a person on a site. As this is my article I may as well go down the narcissistic route and use it to Google all the mentions of my name on a site I contribute to like wordtracker.com. Hmm, fascinating.

jo cameron site:wordtracker.com

If Google-ing yourself isn't for you then researching a political figure on a specific newsite is another alternative.

Site & InTitle

This query will return results for the chosen site that have the word “quinoa” in the title tag.

site:planetorganic.com intitle:quinoa

Intitle: can be substituted for inurl: or intext:. If a site has the keyword in the text but not in the title or url it’s an indication that it’s not directly been optimized for that keyword.

You can use this method on your own site or see what other activity there is for other sites in your market. By using related: you easily gather a list of sites in your niche and then check out which of your target keywords they have in their title tags

related:planetorganic.com

It seems that the related tag operates solo, so if you add an additional function it ignores it in the results.

Type of website

Perhaps you don’t know the exact website but you’re pretty sure it’s from a university website.

site:.edu holiday dates 2015

This can be used very effectively to generate leads for websites seeking contributions from writers.

@melanienathan posted this query string on Twitter recently which is a great example of a supercharged search.

site:.edu inurl:blog "write for us"

A type of file

Maybe you’re after a downloadable document that you can print

format:.pdf holiday dates 2015

You can refine this even further by specifying the type of website like we did above.

site:.edu format:.pdf holiday dates 2015

Reading level

Reading level is an interesting option that is available from "Search tools > all results" under your search bar.

I haven’t used it extensively but looks like a useful tool if you’re researching an area that clogged up with result that are too basic or a bit over your head.

reading level google advanced search

It can also help you to analyze content on your own site - Problogger.net has a great article about how to use Google reading level to improve your blog.

I hope I’ve uncovered something new for you to explore and that your next search involves a whole raft of operators so you can find what you’re after in record speed.

Let me know what your experience has been with advanced search techniques, and what works for you.

Many thanks to WhoIsHostingThis.com for this infographic on becoming a Google power user.

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