Our Favorite Google Tips for SEO


How we use Google's advanced search features in our SEO work flow.


Damon Cali

September 15, 2017

Damon is a co-founder of Longtailer.

Hello, World!

Hello, and welcome to the Longtailer blog. We're going to start things off with something near and dear to our hearts - and at the very core of what we do. Google.

Not the company, but that ubiquitous search bar. Everyone knows how to type in a few keywords to get results, but as SEOs we want more power than that. So we'll get right to it: some of our our favorite Google advanced search features.

Google Basics

Before getting into some more of the Google Advanced Search features, there are two "basic" Google search techniques that you've probably used. But just in case you haven't, they're so useful that they're worth mentioning up front.

Exact Match. Placing quotes around a phrase will return pages where that phrase is used exactly.

Negative search. Placing a minus sign, - , before a keyword will remove pages that reference that keyword.

Finding Backlinks

Most SEOs are familiar with Google's site: operator. If you want to find pages that are contained within a specific domain, you simply add to your search query.

Combining the site: operator with the - operator can be useful. For example if you want to find the backlinks to, try this:


Google will pick up the links (using the keyword ""), but exclude internal links (using the negative site: operator). This is a great way to discover who is linking to your site and to competitors' sites. Note that the quotes around the domain are important.

There is also a link: operator that does something similar, but we've found the above approach to be more flexible and effective.

Competitive Keyword Research

Google also provides two operators that search through specific tags on pages. inanchor: and intitle: are useful in turning up pages that use a specific keyword in the a tag anchor text and title tags. Combined with the site: operator, this you can use this to do competitive research. intitle:apples inanchor:apples

The above query will turn up the pages from that (presumably) are targeting "apples". They have "apples" in the page title tag and are linked to with the anchor text "apples".

Link Building

An operator that comes in handy for link building is the inurl: operator, which as you might guess, returns pages with as specific keyword in the url. Online forms can be a great source of context rich links and referral traffic. Finding forums on a particular topic is often as easy as searching for pages with "forum" in the url, since many forums are on a 'forum' or 'forums' subdomain or directory.

homebrew inurl:forum

This query will turn up forums dedicated to homebrewing.

More Operators

Google provides a variety of operators that can be very powerful for SEO practitioners.

cache: will show you Google's cached version of a page when you put it before a url.

filetype:, ext: These operators return only files with the specified extension.

ext:pdf seo best practices

inanchor:, allinanchor: These related operators will find pages where the keywords are included in anchor text to the pages. allinanchor: returns only pages where all of the keywords are included.

allinanchor: seo tips

There are similar operators for text, titles, and urls - intext:, allintext:, intitle:, allintitle:, inurl:, and allinurl:

info: shows information about a site when placed before the url.

related: will show you similar sites to the one after the operator.

Note that some of these operators won't work if you put a space after the colon. For example, site: will not work. will. On the other hand allintitle: longtailer tools works just fine. This can trip some users up from time to time.

A Couple More Search Tips

Some of the Google advanced search functionality isn't quite as useful for SEO, but are still generally helpful. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Wild Cards. You can use a * inside an exact match as a wild card. For example, "fastest * in the world" will return pages on the fastest car in the world, the fastest animal in the world, etc.

Google as a dictionary. define: turns Google into a dictionary.

define: abrogate
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