Source: Neil Patel In SEO, it’s often the little things that matter. After you’ve learned the basics, you can’t stop. You need to push yourself and
In SEO, it’s often the little things that matter.
After you’ve learned the basics, you can’t stop. You need to push yourself and learn more and more.
You might not learn anything that will revolutionize how you look at SEO, but I guarantee that you will learn how to become a better SEO.
One of the best things you can learn to do is to save time without sacrificing quality.
If you do SEO, you know how many long processes are involved.
And you know how awesome it is when you can save time.
I’m a big fan of “hacks” that actually help you cut down on the amount of time you spend doing these tedious processes.
I’m not talking about gimmicky hacks. I’m talking about tricks you can use to get the most out of your work time.
One of my favorites? Using advanced search operators.
Why are these so important? In one word: Google.
Every SEO should know Google like the back of their hand. It’s by far the most important search engine to focus on, and it’s how many of your future customers will find you.
I’ve met a lot of SEOs who could recite Google’s last 10 algorithm updates, but they can’t actually use Google all that well. Imagine that!
By using search operators, you can slash the time you spend on Google and get better results. And the best part: It’s not difficult at all.
Even if you’re not doing a lot of SEO, you owe it to yourself to learn these so you can use them in your day-to-day work.
What are search operators?
Google officially defines search operators as “symbols or words in your search to make your search results more precise.”
Search operators have their basis in coding. They’re basically shortcuts to getting better results.
When you use a search operator, you’re telling Google to narrow down the results in a specific way.
So instead of getting pages and pages of unrelated results, you get only results that are relevant to what you’re searching for.
Of course, you have to use them the right way. And there are tons of them.
The best way to learn is to see how to use them, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
1. Get every result
There are some times when you want to get every result possible.
If you do, just search normally:
2. Find exact matches
Let’s say you’re looking up infographics that discuss video marketing.
You might use the search query “video marketing infographic.” If you Google that, notice what pops up:
You can immediately tell that some of these results aren’t what you want.
The result at position 3 doesn’t even have the phrase “video marketing” in it! But it does have the words “video” and “marketing.”
If you’re not specific, Google might not take your search query literally.
To remedy this, you can use quotation marks. If you put quotation marks around a word or phrase, you’ll tell Google to only return results that exactly match the word or phrase.
So I can Google this:
Now, Google will only show me results that have the exact phrase “video marketing.”
3. Exclude words
Google is infamous for including results that you don’t want.
Maybe you’re searching “content marketing” to find some more advanced topics. The problem is, most results talk about strategies for beginners.
In this case, you can use a short dash (-) to exclude words from the results. You could try excluding the word “strategy.”
This will ensure you won’t get results that talk about content marketing strategies.
4. Exclude multiple words
You can use this same technique to exclude more than one word. Just use the exclude search operator as many times as you need. (Make sure there’s a space in between each excluded word.)
5. Exclude exact match phrases
If you’re still not getting the results you want, you can force Google to exclude entire phrases that exactly match the phrase you specify.
This search operator is a combination of the exact match and exclusion search operators.
You use the short dash (-) to signify exclusion, and you use quotation marks around the phrase to tell Google to exclude the whole phrase and not just the first word.
It looks like this:
This tells Google to exclude the phrase you’ve specified in between the quotation marks.
6. Exclude multiple phrases
This is the ultimate exact match exclusion operator.
It lets you exclude multiple phrases, and it’s the same idea as excluding multiple words, just with phrases.
You simply use the short dash (-) and quotation marks for as many phrases as you need.
Here’s an example:
7. Use an OR directive
If your search doesn’t have to be super specific but you still want to control your results, try using the OR command.
This simply tells Google to show results with either X or Y. Type your two keywords, and in between them, type OR in capital letters, like this:
It’s important to note that in this example, the OR directive will use the words immediately before and after it.
You can also use the pipe symbol (|) in place of OR.
8. Customize OR commands
You can use all of the previous search operators we’ve talked about to modify your OR searches.
This is helpful when you want to use an OR search with specific phrases:
This will return results that include either the exact phrase “content marketing” or “email marketing.”
9. Get more results with wildcards
If you want to get more matches, you can use the wildcard operator. This is represented by an asterisk (*).
If you place the wildcard in a phrase, you’ll get all the variations of that phrase.
For example, if you wanted to talk about peanut butter and jelly, you could use and or an ampersand (&).
So this search query would return results with both:
10. Include words
You already know you can exclude words, but you can also include them.
If you’re searching for a niche topic and need to make sure certain words are included, you can use the plus sign.