Amid expensive platforms and complex techniques, Google search operators are easy to overlook. But wield them with care, and they could hold the key to content marketing success.
Here, we explore how Google search operators can be used to improve content marketing, helping you discover new outreach opportunities that will boost your campaigns.
- What is a Google Search Operator?
- What Can Search Operators Be Used For?
- A Complete List of Google Search Operators
A Google search operator (GSO) is a typed command that makes search results more precise. Using a combination of words and symbols, you can filter Google’s index to find specific results, and fast.
Search operators are useful for regular users, but it’s unlikely they’d need them for everyday browsing. For marketers looking to improve content outreach, however, these simple commands are a powerful way to put Google to work and discover new opportunities.
Mastering GSOs is tricky, but understanding what they do pays dividends – giving you greater scope to amplify your content marketing. Note, though, that Google does scrap search operators on occasion, so be ready to change tack should your preferred command become obsolete.
Despite their benefits, search operators are underutilised. While marketers have a basic grasp of what they do, they rarely form part of a formal strategy.
Used well, GSOs are a great way to find relevant websites, experts, influencers and link targets for use in your content marketing activity. But which commands should you be using?
We’ll explore what search operators can be used for below.
Guest posting is one of the pillars of content marketing. It boosts authority and brand awareness, and encourages social shares and engagement. But finding relevant guest post opportunities in your niche can be time-consuming. Not so with search operators.
Here’s how to use search operators to discover guest post opportunities.
“intitle” is a common search operator. It lets you find pages which have an exact phrase in their title. You can use the command for lots of content-related tasks, but it’s especially useful for uncovering guest post opportunities.
In the example, we’ve stipulated that “write for us” must appear in the page header. We’ve also given the search more context by adding “river cruise” before the search operator. This tells Google we want pages related to river cruising, but that also contain “write for us”.
Here are the top three results for this search:
Every result displayed for this search provides an opportunity to post on another site. You can then explore the results, discovering relevant sites, experts and influencers to partner with.
To broaden your prospect list, use different terms which relate to guest posting. You could try “contribute to”, “become a contributor”, or “write for me”. Referencing “guest post” itself can also garner results, so explore all the options to maximise potential.
Tip – if you want to filter results, combine the “intitle” command with other search operators. For example, adding “AND site:.co.uk” would display UK results only.
Search operators are not only useful when you’re looking to post on another site; they’re great for finding experts and influencers who may be willing to contribute to yours.
Say you want to compile a list of bloggers and influencers who contribute guest posts within your niche. You can use search operators to find articles they’ve written for other sites.
Here are the GSOs which can help with this:
- “intitle” – e.g. intitle:“guest post”
- “intext” – e.g. intext: “guest post”, intext:“guest writer”, intext:“guest columnist”
- “inurl” – e.g. inurl: “guest-post”, inurl:“expert-tips”, “have-their-say”
Remember, combining search operators will refine and filter the results, so you can find the most relevant experts, bloggers and influencers in your niche.
Already know a blogger or influencer you’d like to target? You can find posts they’ve written or contributed to using search operators. Use the GSOs above, inserting the author’s name between the quotation marks.
Here’s an example:
Tip – Always provide context to your search by including a relevant keyword. In the example, “river cruise” tells Google to prioritise pages which are relevant to this term. This will help ensure any search operators you use always provide the most relevant results.
Using search operators to find bloggers and experts presents a great opportunity to partner with trusted influencers who can boost your content marketing campaigns. Research individual contributors, too, as this will show their strengths and weaknesses, and help you devise a partnership strategy that differs from their previous collaborations.
Whether you’re looking to outreach a piece of content, engage with a niche influencer in your sector or discover someone’s following, search operators make it easy to track down social profiles. Provided you know the name of the individual or organisation, GSOs can help you find them quickly on all social platforms.
Using the “site” search operator, it’s easy to find an individual’s social profiles, and you can add multiple parameters by separating each GSO with a pipe (one of these |). To refine the search, it helps to include a keyword after the person’s name. In this case, “SEO” helped us find Charlie amid the 4,000+ results which appeared when searching for “Charlie Whitworth” alone.
While finding social profiles isn’t normally difficult, using this GSO does cut out the legwork – saving you time when creating prospect lists of individuals you’d like to reach out to further down the line.
Researching the competition is a critical step in effective content marketing. It allows you to benchmark your online presence, highlighting areas for improvement, whilst also giving you the opportunity to make gains in key areas.
Search operators are useful in helping you monitor the competition. There are a couple of GSOs you can use to gain insights into competitor behaviour and seize on opportunities which may arise from your research.
Let’s start by finding out how often your competitors publish new content. Use the “site” search operator to find your competitor’s blog or newsfeed.1. Use the “site” search operator to find your competitor’s blog or newsfeed.2. Beneath the search bar, Google lists the total number of posts on this particular blog.
3. You can then use Google’s date range tool to find the number of posts published on the blog over a set period. This provides valuable insight into how regularly your competitors are posting, so you can adjust your publishing schedule accordingly.
Next, why not get an overview of the type of sites linking to your competitors? You can do this using the “link” search operator which, despite being scrapped by Google, still returns results in most cases.
Here’s an example:
Casting your eye over your competitor’s links could help you discover new opportunities. For example, if a site has featured a guide on a specific product or service and added a link to one of your competitors, you may be able to approach them, build a relationship, and gain a link on this or a similar post in the future.
A great way to broaden your prospect list and increase your chances of effective outreach is to find sites that are similar to one you’ve had previous success with. While there are specific tools that can help with this, the “related” search operator may be the best method for gaining immediate results.
Here’s an example:
Though by no means the only way to find similar sites relevant to your niche, the “related” GSO is a useful way to stumble upon other sites which you may be able to reach out to.
To help you get the most from this guide, we’ve put together a list of up-to-date search operators which could prove useful in your future outreach efforts. Explore the list below.
|Google Search Operator||Outcome|
|“INSERT SEARCH TERM”||Place your search term in quotation marks for exact-match results.|
|OR||Placed in between two search terms, this GSO allows you to search for x OR y in a single search.|
|AND||Placed in between two search terms, this GSO allows you to search for x AND y in a single search. This is very useful between two search operators.|
|–||Place the minus symbol in front of a word to remove any mention of it from the search results. You can use this to control certain GSOs, too.|
|(INSERT SEARCH TERM OR GSO)||Place your search term or GSO in brackets to change how the search is executed.|
|Site:||Use site: followed by a URL to limit the search results to an individual website.|
|Related:||Find pages similar to a specified URL.|
|Intitle:||Find pages with specified words in the page title.|
|Inurl:||Find pages with specified words in the URL (always separate terms with hyphens)|
|Intext:||Find pages with specified words in the page content.|
If you need help managing a content marketing campaign, Banc can help. Our organic search specialists use creative, innovative techniques to oversee your content strategy, driving results for your site. Click here to learn more or call us on 0345 459 0558.