Want to check your indexing status, do some competitive research, or see what kind of content is out there about various topics? Here are a few of the most useful commands you can enter into Google’s search box to get far more specific results than your typical Google search.
Note that many of these will work in Bing also. Also note that there are far more operators than these you can use in Google; these are just ones we’ve highlighted.
This command gives a readout of all of the indexed pages associated with that domain. When you’re exploring other websites it can be useful to get an idea of their size, which is not always obvious at a glance visiting their website. But more than that, it’s useful to ensure your efforts on your own site are successful.
If you’re a new site and you know, for instance, that you have 8 body pages and 5 blog posts, there should be 13 indexed pages. If using the command shows 4 pages, you’ll know right away that Google for whatever reason hasn’t indexed the bulk of your pages.
Your pages can’t rank if they’re not indexed, so this is something to address right away.
Of course, if you have your tags and categories set to index also, you’ll notice your number of indexed pages jump up significantly.
Text Queries – “Site:website.com search terms”
This is your basic search query. It tells Google you want to see any content within that domain that contains your search terms, which are separated by a space from the domain. So if you entered:
…you’d get a list of any pages that talk about giraffes within that domain.
This is also a quick way to find your own content if you have a large blog or a site with a huge product database. You can specify topics or other keywords and easily check to see that they’re indexed.
You can also use quotes around the search terms to indicate you want an exact match search. Such as:
site:domain.com “yellow balloons”
Without the quotes it may show results similar to yellow balloons, such as other colors of balloons. With the quotes you’re telling Google you only want results where the exact phrase “yellow balloons” was used.
You can also search only by titles (and not words within page content) by using “intitle:”, written like this:
site:domain.com intitle:”yellow balloons”
OR Statements – Site:domain.com term1 OR term2
If you’re not sure which terms certain content falls under or want to see a variety of content from two related words, you can use the OR statement to tell Google you want a list of anything that matches either word. So you could use something like:
site:domain.com giraffes OR pandas
This tells Google you want a list of any content that has to do with either giraffes or pandas.
If you want a readout of all indexed pages on a site within a given directory, this command will show you. This is useful for very large sites where the total number of indexed pages on the above command would be more than you’d want to sift through.
If you know a post category or product category, for instance, you can use the URL structure for that and get a list of all indexed pages within that category.
The word(s) you place after “inurl:” will be specific phrases Google searches for within the specified domain. So if you used “site:some-site.com inurl:boxes” it’d give you a list of all indexed pages whose URLs contain the word “boxes”. This gives you more flexibility than the previous command in terms of how you can drill down.
You can also place a dash before the inurl to specify that you want any indexed pages except those containing that word. Such as:
One other notable thing this command is good for is searching for secure pages that site has indexed. If the base URL is HTTP, using “HTTPS” after the inurl will show you any secure indexed pages the site has.
Wild Card Word Searches With ‘*’
Say you have a content series about “The Best Ways To _____” and you’ve written a whole bunch of posts on ways to do various things, all starting with that setup in the title. Using an asterisk in the command tells Google you want content that begins with the first bit, but can contain anything thereafter, which will give you all combinations it finds. Such as:
site:domain.com “The Best Ways To *”
Google will find any pages that begin with “The Best Ways To” with any ending to that statement. Particularly useful if the blank spot that varies falls in the middle of the statement rather than at the end.
Related Word Searches With ‘~’
If you’d like to find any content related to the word you’ve entered, use a tilde before your search word. So if you used:
…Google would search the domain for any content related to SEO, which might include things like rankings, content tips, indexing, etc. It won’t be an exact match, but is a great way to search by topic for tightly related subjects.
If you know a particular word is going to show up in the related word search, but you don’t want content matching that word, you can use the dash before that word to exclude it, written as:
site:domain.com ~SEO -sitemaps
Sitemaps are related to SEO, but in this example you’re telling Google you want content related to SEO but not anything that mentions sitemaps.
Multi-Site Search With “Intitle”
By removing the site:domain part of the command, you can tell Google to show you results on any website with titles matching your search phrase. If you use general words this isn’t different from a basic Google search, but if you have a unique phrase and you’re wondering if other sites have used it also, typing:
intitle:”your unique statement”
…Google will show you any websites that have used page titles with that exact phrase. This can help you narrow down just how unique of an idea you have if you’re brainstorming or how often a topic has been discussed. But it’s also useful to see if competitors are stealing/using your catchphrase.
You can also exclude certain domains, such as your own:
intitle:”your unique statement” -site:domain.com
That will Google to exclude that domain’s content from any of the results that otherwise match your unique statement.