I’m an “SEO” for IBM, so search engine optimization is my life; well, let me say that another way – SEO, making sure IBM’s content appears at the top of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) is my job. One secret weapon professional SEOs use is “advanced search operators.” Advanced operators have targeted ways of looking for stuff on Google. Here’s what SEO Secret Weapon: Advanced Operators covers:
You may already know some of my favorite advanced operators such as site: xyz.com, but did you know site:xyz.com can include specific content or categories?
The query above tells Google you're searching for the internet of things pages on IBM.com. The advanced operator limits the results to IBM.com. The search above will include subdomains. For example, you would use the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN), a domain name is three different sections – the host, the middle, and the level. The first part is the "host," like www, shop, or app. The second part of the name is the actual domain, like IBM or wte, and the last section is the "top-level domain name" - meaning .com or .net. The "FQDN" means all 3 of those parts - as opposed to just the last 2 (www.ibm.com vs. ibm.com) if you only wanted to see pages from the www.ibm.com or the developer.ibm.com domain.
site:ibm.com internet of things (click this link to see current results)
The query above restricts results to ibm.com while searching for a specific text string. Enclosing words in quotes tells Google to limit our search results to that exact string.
Example: site:ibm "the internet of things in the cognitive era"
When I have two similar strings, such as “internet of things” and “iot,” I use the query above. By using “or” Google knows we’re interested in locating either “internet of things” or “iot.” Think of “or” as a broad net. I use “and” conditions to make my net smaller and more specific.
Example: site:ibm.com internet of things OR iot
This search narrows our search results because we want IBM.com pages that meet two conditions. We're asking Google to return pages with the internet of things AND Watson. "And" limits our search results to pages that meet both criteria. Google will only return pages that mention the internet of things AND watson.
Example: site:ibm.com internet of things AND watson
In this query, we tell Google to search ibm.com for the internet of things pages, but we're excluding "watson" pages. Google excludes watson mentions because we used the –watson condition.
Example: site:ibm.com internet of things -watson
Google’s ranking algorithm includes more than two hundred factors, but not every factor carries the same weight. This section shares a few of my favorite ways to do some sherlock-like SEO detective work.
This search restricts results to pdf pages about the internet of things on ibm.com.
Example: site:ibm.com internet of things filetype:pdf
Now let’s discuss some interesting advanced search operators that will help you find specific pages, especially for internal link building.
Page titles are one of the more important SEO factors in Google search algorithm, so quickly checking your or competitors titles can improve your page rank. In this query, we continue to restricting the results to ibm.com, but we only want to see pages where the term internet of things is in the page title.
Example: site:ibm.com intitle:internet of things
We can also combine operators and throw in a –operator to limit pages not already part of the ibm.com/internet-of-things directory.
Example: site:ibm.com intitle:internet of things -site:ibm.com/internet-of-things
In this query we’re asking Google to restrict our search results to ibm.com where the term iot is included in the page's URL.
Example: site:ibm.com inurl:iot
This query only looks for pages where “requirements management” is included in the anchor text of a link or links.
Example: site:ibm.com inanchor:"requirements management"
This search asks Google to find “bunny” on any ibm.com page (and there are some). You never know when you'll need to find your most authoritative bunny page. 😊
Example: site:ibm.com intext:bunny
I love using limit operators because they help define winning pages and pages ranking high in SEPRS in ways our writers use to inform their content creation. By including (6), this query limits results to pages where "watson" appears no more than six (6) words away from the term "cloud" on the page. There is no magic in the number 6; I'm just using six for this example.
Example: site:ibm.com watson AROUND(6) cloud
It’s easy for tabbed or dynamic content to slip through your search, but not so much with these advanced operators.
In this query we’re looking for content that is hidden by a tab or is dynamically generated. The “Adopting new business models to drive future innovation” is used in seven different places on our Industries Banking page. The copy is dependent on a user action only appearing when a visitor clicks on a tab.
Example: site:ibm.com "Adopting new business models to drive future innovation"
Checking we see our banking-financial-markets page is in Google’s results.
Winning the snippet battle is a method to figure out if you are close to winning the snippet battle. Use this tip to find out if there is a 2nd place or 3rd place snippet for a query. If you're still reading, you're SEO search hunger is excellent, my friend. But, sorry, SEO is very Bruce Lee, so my "be like water" voice appears suddenly and without warning.
The following advanced searched example requires several steps, but let's discover who Google thinks has content almost good enough to rank for their featured snippet for the "greatest quarterback of all time" search.
The red arrow points out the domain earning Google's who is the greatest quarterback of all time snippet now.
We can use a negative operator to see who else is competing for this snippet by removing nfl.com (-nfl.com).
Now let’s remove 247sports.com to see what site comes up third.