Advanced Search Operators for Bing and Google (Guide and Cheat Sheet)

By | February 19, 2023
Advanced Search Operators for Bing and Google (Guide and Cheat Sheet)


User typing a site search operator on laptop.
When you search on Google or Bing, do you find exactly what you’re looking for the first time? Probably not.

Enter advanced search operators. These commands help you extract everything the search engine knows about a specific subject – and efficiently.

These tricks of the trade can definitely save you time, especially if you’re doing any kind of competitor analysis or SEO research.

Soon you’ll be searching like a pro as you learn:

What Are Search Engine Operators?

Search operators are commands that use special characters along with a query to make the search engine results more specific. Essentially, they work like filters that you can customize as needed.

To use a search operator, add the command into the search box and search as you normally would. The results are entirely different from the average search.

Why Should I Use a Search Operator?

SEOs routinely use search operators to filter results from a search engine. These advanced search skills let you easily:

  • Locate something specific online
  • Research a site you’re optimizing
  • Investigate the competitive field

When you get comfortable with a few of these commands, you can find what you’re looking for much faster.

How Do I Use Advanced Search Operators?

Enter search operators in the search bar along with your regular query, but with some modifications.

A search operator typically has:

  • A prefix: Something that comes before the search query
  • An addition: Something that is appended to the search query and contains special characters

For example, you can use the cache: prefix in front of the query, or you can use the OR command in between two words in a query.

In many instances – but not all – you want to ensure you do not put a space between the search operator character and the query.

So if you were using the site: command you would want it to look like this:

site:bruceclay.com page experience update

And not like this:

site: bruceclay.com page experience update

OK, all this information is helpful … but how about some examples?

Example 1: Quotation Marks

Quotation marks (“) help you to match an exact phrase. So searching for “advanced search tips” as an example (with the quotes) finds only pages that contain those words used as a phrase.

Example 2: Site Search

The site: command filters your search results to just one website. In other words: You are searching only one domain for the information you need.

Start with the command, which is site: then add the domain name you want to search and finally the topic you want to search the domain for.

In the example below, site: tells the search engine you want to browse a particular domain–bruceclay.com–and siloing is the topic you are interested in finding.

Your results would look something like the screenshot below. Google found 362 pages about siloing on BruceClay.com:

Google search results of bruceclay.com site search for siloing.

Example 3: Combining Search Operators

You can combine search operators to refine results even further. For example, you can combine site search with quotation marks to search for a longer phrase within a particular website.

Google site search animation.

This search found 157 pages. Without the quotation marks, the query would return way too many results. For instance, the search engine would find pages about “voice” or “search” — so nearly all the pages on our site.

Bing and Google Search Operator Documentation

Each search engine has its own set of advanced search operators. Here’s the official documentation from the two major search engines for your reference:

Search Operators Used in SEO Research

Here are seven ways to use the search commands for SEO research:

  1. Analyze the competition
  2. Find information about a specific page or site
  3. Discover indexing problems
  4. Help with site maintenance
  5. Further refine results
  6. Find social profiles
  7. Find potential internal links

In the examples below, the search query is in bold.

1. Analyze the Competition

related:bruceclay.com
The related: operator gives you a glimpse of competitor content. You’ll see a small selection of what Google considers to be similar. Then you can analyze their SEO metrics — including word count, keyword use, meta data and inbound links — so that you can make your page equal to and then better than the competition.

allintitle:seo blog
This query brings up webpages that have both “SEO” and “blog” in their metadata title. We could use this to find competing blogs to our own. The search operators allintitle: and intitle: let you find pages using your keywords in title tags.

Similarly, the commands allinurl: and inurl: let you identify competitors that use keywords in URLs. (Note that as of this writing, the intitle: command works in both Google and Bing searches, but allintitle:, allinurl: and inurl: work only in Google.)

cache:https://www.bruceclay.com/seo/
The cache: command shows you a search engine’s cached version of a page. It’s a way to check how the search engine actually sees your page. Cache shows what page content the search engine considers relevant to retrieve, making this Google search operator a valuable SEO diagnostic tool.

2. Find Information About a Specific Page or Site

info:competitorsite.com
Using the info: command in Bing gives you results that seem like a collection of these advanced search operators. It’s a one-stop shop to access a variety of onsite and offsite results about a website. Note: Google deprecated the info: operator
in 2017.

3. Discover Indexing Problems

site:yourdomain.com
A site: command shows how many pages the search engine has indexed. Though the total number of results is only an approximation, it is a quick way to find out if you have an indexing problem — either too few or too many pages in the index.

site:yourdomain.com/blog/*
Specify a particular subfolder of your site to see how many pages it contains. For instance, adding the wildcard * finds all pages under the /blog/.

4. Help with Site Maintenance

site:yourdomain.com contains:pdf
The contains: Bing search operator gives you a powerful tool to find links within a site that point to a particular type of file. For example, the query above lets you locate every page on your site that has a link to a PDF file.

5. Further Refine Results

cats -musical
A minus sign (-) before a keyword removes any results with that word. Again, it’s a way to help filter results when a query might be ambiguous. If you’re looking for info about cats the animal, but there’s a showing of Cats the musical in your town, you can search cats -musical to remove results about the theater production.

intitle:keyword -site:yourdomain.com
You can use the minus sign (-) before a search command, too. The above example finds webpages that have your keyword in the title tag, excluding those on your own site. This reduces the clutter when doing competitor research.

6. Find Social Profiles

john doe (site:linkedin | site:twitter)
If you want to get in touch with someone via their social profiles, you can use the site: for social media profiles along with the person’s name (and company name if you have it). This will search any of the social media channels you want to look up for that person. The example above would show LinkedIn and Twitter.

7. Find Potential Internal Links

site:bruceclay.com/blog -site:bruceclay.com/seo/siloing/ intext: “siloing”
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I recommend siloing as an SEO strategy. A key part of siloing is internal linking.

This advanced search is useful to find potential linking opportunities within a website. The example above combines the site: command with intext:, the minus sign (-) and exact match quotations (“).

What this particular search would do is find any webpages on the blog that mention siloing so that we could link to the main siloing page on the site. It uses the minus sign to exclude the page we want to link to from other pages.

List of Advanced Search Operators for SEO (Cheat Sheet)

In the table below, you’ll find the search engine operators that we routinely use in SEO research. (This is not an all-inclusive list.)

Google Bing Result
allinanchor:
allintext: Returns webpages with all the words somewhere on the webpage.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed title tag.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. Also can be used to find pages whose URLs contain all the specified words.
AROUND() Finds webpages with words that are in a certain proximity to one another.
cache: Shows the version of the webpage from Google’s cache.
contains: Finds webpages that contain links to a particular type of file (such as pdf, mp3). This function is unique to Bing.
define: Presents a dictionary definition.
ext: ext: Returns only webpages with the file extension you specify (such as htm). Note: Bing includes this operator in its current list, but our tests could not produce reliable results.
filetype: filetype: Finds results of a single type only (such as pdf).
filetype: filetype: Finds results of a single type only (such as pdf).
feed: Finds RSS / Atom feeds on a site for the search term.
hasfeed: Finds webpages with RSS / Atom feed on the search term.
in This converts units of measure like temperature, currency, etc.
info: Presents some information that Bing has about a webpage such as related pages from the site, external pages talking about the page, and related results. This operator is not listed on the current Bing documentation, but our tests show that it continues to work.
intext: Shows pages that contain a specific word in their body text.
intitle: intitle: Finds pages that include a specific word as part of the indexed title tag.
inurl: Finds pages that include a specific keyword in their indexed URLs.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. Also can be used to find pages whose URLs contain all the specified words.
inanchor: Finds webpages that use a specified keyword as anchor text in a link from the page.
inbody: Finds webpages that use a specified keyword in the body section of the page.
ip: Finds sites hosted by a certain IP address.
language: Find webpages in a specified language.
location: Finds webpages from a certain country / region.
map: Finds a map result for the query.
movie: Finds information about movies.
OR OR Finds webpages that have either query when used in between two queries. Must be capitalized to work correctly.
prefer: Adds emphasis to a search term to refine the results further.
related: Finds related sites to the domain you input.
site: site: Restricts the search to pages within a particular domain and all its subdomains.
source: Finds news results from a specific news source in Google News.
stocks: Displays stock information for a specific ticker symbol.
url: Checks if a domain is in the Bing index.
weather: Shows weather for a specific location.
* * Acts like a wildcard that can take the place of any word or phrase. Example: tallest * in the world
Excludes results that contain the word following the minus sign. Place this operation at the end of your search query.
” “ ” “ Finds instances of the exact text within the quotation marks everywhere it appears in the search engine’s index.
@ Searches social media for a certain query when put in front of the word(s).
$ Searches for a price when put in front of the query.
# Searches for hashtags.
Searches a range of numbers when put in between two numbers.
() Finds or excludes webpages with a group of words contained within the parentheses.

Doing research takes time. Especially when there are so many search engine results. These advanced search operators will get you searching like a pro – more efficiently with better results.


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Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

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