Google Search Operators

Find out how to search Google like a pro using search operators. Read on for our advanced Google search techniques and tips.

7th November 2016
Google Search Operators

Using Google to search for something is simple. Let’s imagine you want to find websites about cheap cars. All you have to do is go to their website, type ‘cheap cars’ in the search box, click ‘search’ and hey presto, you get a results page of relevant web pages. Pretty simple. But what if you only wanted results from a specific website? That’s where search operators come in.

What are Google Search Operators?

Google’s search operators allow you to modify your search query with specific rules. This helps to refine your search results, making it easier to find what you are looking for. In the example above, if I was to change ‘cheap cars’ search query to ‘cheap cars site:bobscars.com’, then I would only get results from bobscars.com.

How do I use Search Operators?

It’s easy really. Bar a few exceptions, you will have the format {operator name}:{query}. This is placed within the query/search box alongside the rest of query. Generally, the search operator should be placed as far to the right as possible. Some allow multiple words and placing them to the right of your main query prevents errors, where some words are included in the operator when they shouldn’t be.

The Google Search Operators

Now to the good stuff. Below you will find search operators, descriptions, examples, and also the type of search that they are applicable to, e.g. web, image, news, products and groups.


Phrase Match/Include Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The phrase match/include search operator will only return search results that contain the terms contained within the quotation marks, in the same order. The phrase match operator also replaces the + symbol operator. This means that even for a single term, the search result being returned must contain the whatever is specified within quotation marks.

For example "world boxing association" will only return results that contain the terms “world”, “boxing” and “association” in that order. This will not match a web page that only contains the phrase “association of world boxing” or “boxing world association”.


Exclude (-) Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The exclude (-) search operator will exclude web pages that contain the terms that directly follow the symbol.

For example tesco -bank will return search results relevant to the term “tesco” so long as they do not contain the term “bank”.


OR Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The OR search operator will return search results that contain at least one of the specified terms. Note that the OR search operator is case sensitive and must be uppercase.

For example ship OR boat OR vessel will return web pages that contain at least one of the following terms: “ship”, “boat”, “vessel”.


Range (..) Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The range search operator will return search results for any number with the specified range. The minimum and maximum values of the range must be separated by two periods.

For example british history 1900..2000 will return web pages relevant for the terms “british” and “history” that have numbers between “1900” and “2000”.


Wildcard (*) Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The wildcard search operator is a wildcard for any terms.

For example best * in the uk will return search results that are relevant to the terms “best”, “in”, “the” and “uk” with any wildcard terms positioned between “best” and “in”.


allinanchor: Operator

Search Types: Web

Anchor text is the clickable text that is used to link from one web page to another web page or file. The allinanchor: search operator limits the search results to web pages that have inbound links with anchor text containing all of the specified terms in the operator.

For example allinanchor:best burgers london will only return web pages that have links to them with anchor text containing “best”, “burgers” and “london”.


allintext: Operator

Search Types: Web, News, Products, Groups

The allintext: search operator will only return webpages that contain the terms specified within the text of the page.

For example allintext:presidential election will only return web pages that contain “presidential” and “election” with the page’s text.


allintitle: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Products, Groups

The title element or <title></title> of a webpage is generally the text you will see displayed in the browser tab for each page. It is also often used by search engines for the main heading for each search listing. The allintitle: search operator will only return webpages that contain all of the specified terms within the page’s title element. For image search, this will only return images that contain the specified terms in their file name.

For example allintitle:planet earth ii will only return search results that contain “planet”, “earth” and “ii” within the title element (the file name for image search).


allinurl: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News

A URL is an address that specifies the location of a file on the internet, such as ‘http://www.omnicoda.com/blog/search-engine-optimisation/google-search-operators’. The allinurl: search operator will only return webpages and files that contain all of the specified terms within their URL.

For example allinurl:mtv europe music awards will only return search results that contain “mtv”, “europe”, “music” and “awards” within their URLs.


author: Operator

Search Types: Groups

The author: search operator will limit search results on Google Groups to only authors that contain the terms specified. The search terms can be either partial names or an email address.

For example author:james will only return search results for Google Groups authors that have both “james” in their name.


cache: Operator

Search Types: Web

The cache: search operator will return Google’s cached version of a web page.

For example cache:www.chelseafc.com/content/cfc/en/homepage.html will return Google’s cached version of Chelsea Football Club’s English language homepage.


define: Operator

Search Types: Web

The define: search operator returns a definition at the top of the search results for the terms specified. You can use this operator with or without the colon.

For example define:x factor will return a definition for the term “x factor”.


filetype: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image

The filetype: search operator will return search results matching the type specified. You can return search results for multiple file types by using the OR search operator.

For example the big bang theory filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc will return PDF and .doc files relevant to the terms “the”, “big”, “bang” and “theory”.


group: Operator

Search Types: Groups

The group: search operator will return results only from the group specified in the operator.

For example xml group:ica-atom-users will only return results from the “ica-atom-users” group, that are relevant to the term “xml”.


inanchor: Operator

Search Types: Web

The inanchor: search operator will only return web pages that have inbound links with anchor text containing the specified terms.

For example medicine inanchor:acupuncture will return web pages with inbound links that have anchor text containing “acupuncture”, that are relevant to the term “medicine”.


info: Operator

Search Types: Web

The info: search operator will display some information about whichever web page you specify. This information is fairly limited. It will return the search listing including the heading, address and description. There are also links to other search operator results:

  • cache:
  • related:
  • link:
  • site:
  • phrase match e.g. “www.google.com”

For example info:www.manutd.com will return information about the address “www.manutd.com”.


intext: Operator

Search Types: Web, News, Groups

The intext: search operator will return web pages that contain the term specified somewhere within the page’s text.

For example saturday night live intext:cumberbatch will only return web pages that are relevant for the terms “saturday”, “night” and “live” that contain the term “cumberbatch” within the text.


intitle: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News, Groups

The intitle: search operator will return web pages that contain the specified term within the title element.

For example how to build a theme intitle:wordpress will return search results that are relevant for the terms “prince”, “of”, “wales” and include the term “charles” within the title element.


inurl: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image, News

The inurl: search operator will limit the search results to web pages that contain the specified term in their URL.

For example rafael nadal inurl:tennis will return search results that are relevant for the terms “rafael”, “nadal” and contain the term “tennis” within their URL.


link: Operator

Search Types: Web

The link: search operator will return web pages that link to the specified URL in the operator. This can be combined with the site: operator to remove internal links from a domain.

For example link:www.android.com -site:android.com will return web pages that link to “www.android.com”, so long as they source pages are no on the domain “android.com”.


location: Operator

Search Types: News

The location: search operator can be used with Google News results. This search operator will limit results to those from the location specified.

For example brexit location:london will return results that are relevant to the term “brexit” and where the web pages from from the location “london”.


related: Operator

Search Types: Web

The related: search operator will return web pages similar to the one that has been specified.

For example related:www.apple.com/uk/iphone-7/ will return web pages that Google deems similar to the Apple iPhone 7 landing page.


site: Operator

Search Types: Web, Image

The site: search operator will only return results that match the domain specified.

For example site:www.nhs.uk will only return web pages from the sub-domain “www.nhs.uk”.


source: Operator

Search Types: News

The source: search operator can be used with Google News. This search operator will limit results to the news source specified.

For example barack obama source:the telegraph will only return search results relevant to the terms “barack” and “obama” that are from The Telegraph.


stocks: Operator

Search Types: Web

The stocks: search operator can be used with or without the colon. This search operator will return stock information for the company whose ticker symbol is specified.

For example stocks:barc.l will return stock information for Barclays PLC.


Weather Operator

Search Types: Web

The weather search operator does not require a colon. When the term “weather” is used in addition to a place name, often the search results will include the current weather conditions and forecast.

For example weather london will return the weather conditions and forecast for London.


There you have it. Our comprehensive guide on Google Search Operators. Are there any we have missed from this list that you think should be included? Do you have any new and novel ways of using them? Let us know in the comments below.

The Author: The Strategyst

The Strategyst
I am a digital marketing strategist with more than a decade's experience. I run Strategyst.

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