If you’ve ever typed something into the search bar, you already know that Google, although a very powerful search engine, can also be a fickle beast.

If you work in SEO, you’re well aware of the importance of keywords. But, typing in the keyword alone in the search engine may not be enough. You may wind up with inaccurate results. Now what?

To help modify and better define your search, you should use a search operator. Search operators are like instructions: they join keywords in order to form a more accurate search and help pinpoint what you’re searching for. Because they provide you with a more exact search, they help you cut down on search time.

Search operators are highly useful for SEO professionals as they help you find relevant data for optimization purposes, aid in the link building process, and are beneficial for site auditing.

Below is a list of search operators and how they can benefit your SEO efforts:

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SEO-oriented Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
inurl:/allinurl: Search for pages with the keyword in the URL. inurl:college degrees online Displays webpages where your terms appear in the URL.
With this search operator, you can get an idea of how many URLs in Google’s index there are for pages on the web about that topic. You can find competitors with optimized URLs for specific keywords that you are trying to rank for.You can also find out what sites that your competitors are linking to and reach out to those sites asking for a link as well.You can also use this search operator to find guest blogging opportunities, whether you’re looking for a writer or a site to contribute to. In either instance, it’s a great way to get a link out. Example:
Inurl:guest “college degrees online”Additionally, you can use this search operator to determine if a site is indexed by Google. If the site is indexed, it will appear in the search results. If it’s not indexed, then it will not show in the results. Example: allinurl:www.site.com

 

intitle:/allintitle Find sites that contain a specific word in the page title. intitle:college. Find competitors with optimized titles for particular keywords
This search operator refines your search to the title tag of the page. You can find how many pages are indexed by Google with that keyword. You can use this to search for pages that use your keyword in the title and use it for link prospecting for guest blogs.

 

intext:/allintext: Search for sites with the keywords in the body text. intext:education Find competitors with optimized content containing keywords you are trying to rank for.
This search operator is highly useful as it pulls up webpages that contain the keyword in the beginning of the text. Using this, you can find competitors who are also trying to rank for certain keywords. You can specify if they are trying to rank for long-tail keywords, short-tail keywords, or both. This is also useful for brand management purposes as it can pull up negative content about a company or website.

 

inanchor:/allinanchor: Search for pages with keyword(s) in the anchor text. colleges inanchor:online Find existing sites with certain keywords and phrases in the anchor text.
Using the above example, this search query restricts the Google results and displays webpages with links that contain the word “used” and the webpage contains the word “cars.” You can use this operator to determine how many links there are in Google’s index that use certain keywords in the anchor text for links to pages. You can use it to conduct a competitive analysis and see who’s linking to other sites with that anchor text.

 

Advanced Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
cache: Find Google’s cached version of a website rather than the current version. cache:URL View the latest version of the page acquired by spiders. Also view the dates of visits and the content that is no longer live on a site.
info:
(Id: is an alias for this)
Find information about a site. info:URL Retrieve information about the site including links to pages that link to the webpage.

 

filetype:
Ext: (alternative to filetype:)
Search for a particular file format. IRS tax forms filetype:pdf Find a wider view of content available online.
This search operator allows you to specify the type of file you’re looking for. For example, you can search PDF documents, Flash files and Microsoft Office documents. This not only provides you with more quality results if you’re looking for sources to link to in content, but you can determine if your competitor is using any of these documents.

 

link: Find external websites that link to a particular URL. link:mysite.com Find
pages that are pointing to the particular URL.
With this search operator, you can find all the pages in the Google results that link to that specified URL. You can determine the number and quality of links to competitor sites, and reach out to ask for a link as well. You can also find relevant sites that don’t link to your competitor’s site, in which you can reach out to the site for a link. If the site they are linking to is no longer available, you can contact them and offer a site that they can link to, creating a backlink.

 

site: Find pages on a specific domain. site:webimax.com “keyword”/td> Determine what pages are indexed by Google.
This search operator returns the number of indexed pages for the specified domain. With this, you can find out which pages on a site are indexed by Google, and which ones need to be optimized.You can also place a keyword before or after the search operator to determine the keyword density within all of the indexed pages for that specific keyword. With this, you can find out how many pages your competitor has indexed for a keyword, and you can create and optimize more pages on your site.Additionally, you can use this search operator to search for content on different domains rather than sites. For example:site:www.college.edu computer operating systems
site:edu computer operating systems

 

daterange: Find “new” pages in Google within a particular timeframe. daterange:startdate-enddate Find pages that are more current and updated.
This search operator allows you to refine your search according to a date range. This not only help you find current pages to link to, but when you scrape URL for link building purposes, you can keep your results current and avoid old threads.

*Note: You must enter the dates as Julian dates (Julian dates are the number of days since noon universal time on January 1, 4713 BCE.)

For example:
The date June 12, 2013 is converted as 2456456.

You can easily convert dates online.

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Basic Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
” ”
(quotations)
Search for an exact phrase. “SEO companies’” Tells Google to search specifically for content containing the keyword phrase. Helps you find places to internally link on your website and find relevant sites to post content in order to obtain a backlink to your site.
*
(asterisk)
A wildcard character used to find documents containing part of a word.This can include a single term or phrase. college * Find other words and phrases that may be relevant to your search term.
This search operator is used as a root search in which the results will contain webpages that begin with the root of the word. This helps you find other keywords or phrases that online audiences and competitors are using. Also, this helps you save time as you can avoid writing long statements or other phrases to search with.
number ..number Find results with numbers within a given range such as dates, prices and measurements. Mega Millions 250,000 .. 2012 Allows you to specifically target a product.
related: Find sites similar to a specific URL. related:nytimes.com To use as a media outlet to find other sites that are similar to what you’ve been using to post content and links.
This search operator is highly beneficial for competitor and backlink research. You can simply type in the name of your website and search your competitors. Also, you can use this to search notable news websites and other sources to contribute content and get a backlink, or to link to and create an external link.
define: Find the definition of a particular word or phrase. define: online marketing Gather links to websites associated with the term.

Boolean Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
AND Combine terms and search for documents with all of the terms.Note: AND must be capitalized when used.
Google enables this operator by default.
dogs AND dating Helps narrow your search.
This search operator helps you narrow your search by pulling up sites that contain all of the search terms, helping to make your search more specific. You can also use this search operator for reputation monitoring to determine what people are saying about your company online. Simply type in the name of your company AND the keyword phrase.
OR Search for sites that contain at least one of the specific keywords.Note: OR must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. college OR university Helps fine-tune your search and yield more effective results.
This search operator helps expand your search and pulls up sites that contain any of the search terms.

 

You can use this to find other terms that competitors are using, as well as relevant sites to get a backlink.

 

NOT Excludes sites that contain a specific word.Note: NOT must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. colleges NOT universities Decreases search time by eliminating undesirable sites.
To cut down on search time, this search operator pulls up sites with the keywords you want included and excludes sites that contain a certain keyword. This is useful to find out what terms competitors are not using, which you can then target.

Proximity Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
AROUND Find words or phrases near each other.Note: AROUND must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. Andy Reid AROUND Chip Kelly Specifies the proximity in which the search terms appear in the results, yielding more specific results.
This search operator helps you get very specific as it lets you specify the maximum number of words that separate your search terms. This search will include words that are in close proximity to each other. This is useful when looking for a combination of search terms and you want to know the relationship between the two.
NEAR Pulls pages with the words near each other.Note: NEAR must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. James NEAR Madison Helps improve the relevancy of matched pages and helps combat webpages that contain dictionary lists.
This search operator finds records in which the search terms are within 16 terms of each other. This is useful for long tail terms and phrases, as well as geo-specific keywords.

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Time Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
time: Find the time in a particular location. Time: Mount Laurel

Location Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
location:
(only in news search)
Filter your search according to a location. location: New Jersey Find out current events taking place in a particular location.
region: Find sites that belong to a particular region. region: USA Find relevant sites to place content about a specific region

Miscellaneous Operators

Search Operator Definition Example
stocks: Find market data about a particular company. stocks: Apple
movie: Find movie-related information. movie: Forrest Gump
map: Find a map of a particular location.
Type in the name of the location or the zip code.
map: New Jersey
sunrise:
&
sunset:
See the precise times of sunrise and sunset in a certain location. sunrise: New Jersey
sunset: New Jersey

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News Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
source: Find articles in news sources regarding the selected keyword. Election source: New York Times Find newsy and relevant sites to link to.
inpostauthor: Filter your search according to an author’s name. inpostauthor:”name” Use to find guest blogging opportunities or find a particular author.
This search operator allows you to search for guest blogging opportunities, which is a great way to get a backlink, and you can also search for specific authors. You can also use it to track blogs and other online publications.

Search Operators No Longer Supported By Google

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In an effort to help make searches more precise, Google has dropped the search operators below.

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
author: Search for articles by a specific author. You can search by full name or partial name, or by email address. author:John Smith See what newsy and notable content you can link to.
+
(plus character)
Make sure the words are included in every result and ensure the results contained the exact spelling of the word animals + farm Yields more accurate search results.
~
(tilde)
Includes synonyms for the search term in the search results. ~ocean city vacation Useful for determining additional keywords

While the tilde has been dropped completely (due to lack of use), the author search operator and plus sign (+) have been replaced. The author search operator has been replaced with the authorship link, rel=author. The plus sign has been replaced with an expanded functionality of the quotation marks operator.

Staying on top of your optimization efforts and keeping an eye on competition is a must in online marketing. By using the combination of keywords and search operators, you can boost your marketing success.

Click here for an advanced search operator cheat sheet.

Shout out to Mike Stricker, Bill Slawski, Chris Countey, Jeremy Niedt and Richard Ortiz for helping contribute to this piece!

Manager Monday - WebiMax.com

In 2001, Grammy award winning rapper and producer, Dr. Dre, announced his return to the hip hop scene…taking his song to #1 after a long period behind the studio glass.  He returned to the microphone to record “Forgot About Dre”.  The song emphatically announced his reemergence into the spotlight.

What made Dr. Dre so successful in the past was his ability to speak to the needs of his core audience. Upon his return, he continued to provide music that was focused to what his loyal fan base wanted to hear. When looking at SEO campaigns, it’s important to take a note from Dr. Dre and continue to provide high quality content that speaks to the needs of the people who will make or break your business – your customers.

During Dr. Dre’s hiatus from behind the microphone, his fans and fellow competitors forgot about him because he stopped releasing new music. In the same vein, many prospective clients of ours find that their past customers forget about their business. Why? Because they never utilize the touch points below. By taking advantage of the following seven touch points, your business will be much like the legend of Dr. Dre in the music industry – unforgettable.

1.)    Website
Your website is often times the introduction to your brand or company offerings. Too often, the website is forgotten and pages that haven’t been relevant in ages continue to be both prominent and live on the site. The website is used in so many ways through:

i.    Communicating through product visibility
ii.    Being upfront about the offers, your brand
iii.    Allowing a customer quick easy access to checkout

A customer-centric web presence is key to the overall success of not only SEO (visibility), but also for the customer experience and loyalty.

2.)    Follow up from purchase

a.    What happens after your customer makes the purchase? Are there follow up emails sent? Are they entered into a newsletter program to stay current on the latest news/offers?

Keeping involved with your customer is essential to maintain a relationship for future interaction. This can be accomplished through the methods mention above, which can make a huge impact for your business. Not only will it allow the customer to speak highly of your brand and experience, but also keeps you current and relevant while their next purchase decision is underway.

3.)    PR
How in touch are you with your customer through online news outlets…they are reading online just like you are. Public relations in and around your community, city or state is a great way to remain current. Press releases can also bring national exposure as well as beneficial link building from an SEO perspective.

4.)    Retargeting
Have you ever seen retargeted ads that ‘follow’ your online click paths and online navigations? This is called retargeting in our industry and it provides extreme value in terms of brand awareness and relevant ROI clicks.

Customers can leave your site for a variety of reasons. Distractions, competition, and improper use of your site are just a few. Why not through retargeting, remain with the prospect over a span of 30 days or so, which will prove to be a very effective way for brand distribution.

5.)    Paid Search
Exploring the paid search platform is not only a great way to gain quick exposure and traffic, but also allows a great deal of learning as your potential customers respond to the ads. Some ideas to test with paid search include:

i.    Keywords and how your demographics respond
ii.    Ad groups and the impression/click rates
iii.    Landing pages to better conversions (includes call to action that could be tested during the paid search initiative.)

6.)    Blog
Your blog is not only an SEO powerhouse (still), but your customers in many situations look to read more about and support information your company or brand is involved with. They will often times look for news, product updates, information, etc. Your blog also gives the customer a platform to interact with your brand or products.

7.)    Mobile
More and more, we are seeing a tremendous amount of mobile data from Google Analytics on many online businesses. If your site is not mobile ready, then you are indeed alienating a percentage of your demographics and customers. Creating a mobile ready site is often times quick, and inexpensive, but can make a world of difference for the potential customers shopping experience.

As you can tell, it takes some work to be remembered. After all, it took a Grammy winning song for Dr. Dre to emerge back into the consciousness of the masses. And his competition was just fellow rappers, our clients are up against something that has unmatched credibility on the streets – Google.

Speed Up Your Site - WebiMax.com

How many times have you clicked on a link in a list of search results only to sit there and watch the little circle spin on your browser tab? Like everyone else, you probably hit the back button and proceed to click the next link in the long list of results. The speed of a website is a very important aspect of SEO that gets overlooked far too often. It is important that site owners start to make page load time a priority when optimizing their sites.

But why is site-speed such a big part of SEO, you ask? What if your site was the first link that was clicked in search results like the one mentioned above. But the page didn’t load fast enough and the visitor left your site to try another. You just lost a potential conversion.

Setting high usability standards is a big part of SEO and site speed is an integral part in building a user-friendly website. Unfortunately, users are not very patient and getting your visitors to your pages as quickly as possible is something you should always be working on. The average visitor expects a page to load in 4 seconds or less; if not, most are willing to leave your site for a competitors.

Although usability is the main reason why I try to keep a site fast, a slow website can also affect your rankings as well. Studies have shown that when slower sites rank in search results, people actually use Google less. Not to mention the negative effects a slow site and server can have on your crawl rate as well.

What Slows Down Your Site?
There can be many contributing factors to a slow, bogged-down website. Anything from the type of hosting service you choose to the amount of code in your sites files. Below is a list of the major reasons why your site may be bogged down:

Large Images – Images that are too large or take too long to download is probably one of the biggest problems with site speed. Before inserting images into a webpage, they must first be resized and compressed to ensure a faster download time.

Server/Hosting Issues – The type of hosting and server your site is on can cause many issues. Shared servers can be fast at times and really slow at other times and in some cases a hosting/server package may not be adequate enough to handle a specific CMS you may be using for your site.

Too Many Ads – Ads are a great way to earn some extra cash but is it worth losing visitors because you’re site isn’t loading fast enough? If you have several ads on your site, try removing a couple and you will probably see instant results.

JavaScript – Too many scripts that are located to close the top of your sites pages can really slow down a site. Remember that for every line of code is another server request which only takes more time for all the page elements to render. In some instances, JS can even be consolidated to reduce the amount of requests.

Uncompressed Text Files – Compressing text files on your server reduces the amount of bytes sent over the network and can really save on bandwidth use.

How to Test the Speed of Your Site
There are many great and free tools available for anyone to use to get a good look how fast a site really is and what may be slowing it down as well. Below are a couple of my favorites. And because all of them give slightly different reports, it is a good idea to run your site on all of them to see what problems one picked up that the others may have missed.

Google PageSpeed Insights – This one is my personal favorite. To use this tool, all you have to do is enter your URL into the field and click Analyze and in a few seconds you have  a list of items that are slowing down your site organized in High, Medium and Low priority. You can even go further by clicking each item to find out how to fix each issue.

YSlow – This is another great tool that can be used to analyze the speed of your site. This one works a lot like a browser extension or add-on. Once installed you can run an analysis on any site you are currently on. After a few seconds of analysis, you will receive a letter grade for all elements pertaining to site speed and suggestions on how to fix them as well. But one thing that YSlow offers that PageSpeed does not is the use of some tools such as Smushit to achieve your optimization tasks.

SEO 101 - Bringing It All Back Home

A common concern (or more accurately, misconception) amongst business owners is that Internet marketing is an unquantifiable or even abstract enterprise.  Although any SEO would vehemently disagree and offer up a plethora of resources which serve to disprove such claims; there are still doubters.

So, how exactly does one measure the ROI of search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations or any other aspect of online marketing?  It all comes back to where SEO began – Google.

Thinking Analytically
Before Google Analytics was first unveiled in 2005, there were only a handful of third-party traffic and conversion statistics reporting tools available on the Web.  While some of these proved to be fairly effective, none have quite lived up to Google’s proprietary service.  In fact, Google Analytics remains the most widely-used application of its kind to this day.

WebiMax - Google AnalyticsAn SEO’s Best Friend: The Google Analytics Dashboard

Not only does Analytics provide advanced functionality for experts, but it delivers viable real-time data that business owners can understand and use to get more from their site and improve their bottom line.  By tracking traffic sources, gathering visitor data and learning which pages on your site are receiving the most views, you’re able to not only improve conversion rates, but easily re-strategize your entire online marketing plan with relative ease, as well.

The Winds of Change
Traditional marketing and advertising initiatives are still effective for many businesses; however, determining the cost-benefit of these efforts is still a difficult process.  Today, even some of the world’s largest and most recognized companies have turned to the Internet to increase their sales and utilize Analytics to boost their lead generation and conversion optimization efforts.

As more brands begin to hop on the digital marketing bandwagon, traffic and conversion reporting has become an even more valuable asset.  With Google firmly maintaining its position at the forefront of the analytics game, the search engine that started it all is bringing it all back home by offering one of the single most useful tools for businesses.

Thanks to resources such as Google Analytics, much of the skepticism surrounding Search Engine Optimization is beginning to dwindle.  With statistics reporting and tracking tools providing solid facts and definitive data to back the claims of marketers, one thing is evident – a strong online marketing plan is a necessity for virtually every business.

Long gone are the days where stuffing numerous keywords into a blog post or article is considered the norm for Search Engine Optimization. Whether you’re an SEO professional or are just beginning to explore the world of SEO, you’ve probably already found that this field is an ever-changing industry that loves to keep everyone on their toes. The best method to remaining on top of the latest SEO trends is vigilance accompanied by knowledge of the past and present.

Previously, writing for SEO included a large amount of keyword-stuffing and concern with keyword density, making for not-so-interesting articles. Because in the past, blog posts and articles were written with a search engine in mind rather than an audience, content became “spammy” and people were uninterested in reading or sharing this content – content was created simply for the value of the link. Past content was also text-focused and title tags and Meta descriptions were often unhelpful to the user as they were used mainly for keyword value.

Today, post PANDA and PENGUIN updates, writing for SEO is all about creating shareable, interesting, and diverse content. Keyword density is not overly important and you risk your content being marked as spam when keyword density is too high. As demonstrated in this blog post, content doesn’t only include text. Today, content includes photos, video, infographics, and more, all which hold SEO value.

Check out the infographic below to see how writing for SEO has changed over the years:

WebiMax Writing for SEO Infographic

Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite toolbars that every Webmaster, SEO and/or Online Marketer should be utilizing.  Inside these toolbars, there are extremely valuable tools that help me on a daily basis.  Some of the tools inside these toolbars require a subscription while others are free.

The two toolbars are:
SEOMOZ      SEOBOOK
(Click the images above to check out the toolbars!)

First , let’s look at the SEOBOOK tool bar:
SEOBOOK Toolbar

Ahrefs:
This toolbar offer some great features.  I use the quick links to ahrefs, which is the icon of the little hand pointed up.  This is a service we have a subscription to and find very useful.  I use ahrefs for primarily back link data, you can view new links discovered and lost by date, which is a nice feature.   You can also see the anchor text for your external links, there is also an option to export this list.  This is a great tool to view your link diversity and your competitors.

SEMRush:
The icon for the little red fireball in the toolbar is the quick link to SEMRush.  If you are visiting a webpage and click the SEMRush icon, you will have a new tab open that displays the data for the specific website you are coming from.  There are two great graphs that are available – one for amount of traffic and the other for amount of keywords in the top 20.  Another great feature measures the amount of traffic keywords are driving to a site with the current ranking and last month’s ranking.

Majestic SEO:
The icon for MJSEO in red font is the quick link to Majestic SEO.  This is another subscription based service but offers some great information.  The features I use the most in Majestic is the Neighborhood Checker found in the menu under “More Tools”.  This allows me to look at sites that reside on the same servers.  Majestic also offers a great keyword tool named “Keyword Checker,”  this tool helps you see how many webpages have already optimized meta data, url and anchors for specific keywords.  There are many other uses for Majestic and it offers comparable data to Ahrefs and SEOMOZ.

Dir:
This tool lets you know if the site you are looking at has a premium directory listing. The listings it provides are through DMOZ, BOTW, Business.com, and Yahoo directory.

 

Now, let’s take a look at the SEOMOZ toolbar:

SEOMoz Toolbar

Authority Bars:
The domain authority bar and the page authority bar are two great features offered here.  They are both features of SEOMOZ and provide you with a shortcut from having to go into the MOZ Tool itself to view the information.  The domain authority bar is recognized be the DA: followed by a number, while the page authority is recognized by the PA: followed by a number.

Moz Tools:
The wrench and screwdriver icon is your fast link to Moz Tools.  Inside this icon, you have access with a paid account to all of SEOMoz’s tools including Open Site Explorer, Rank Tracker, Top Pages, Crawl Test, Open-Page Keyword Optimizer, Keyword Difficulty Tool, plus Link Analysis and Linking Domains.  There also quick links to other websites associated with this icon, such as Google and Bing Webmaster login pages, Alexa, Quancast , Compete, Archieve.org and Whois Info.  This icon can be the topic of a blog post by itself.  If you aren’t familiar with the tools and sites listed under this icon, it’s time to dig in because they are extremely useful tools and websites.

Page Analyzer:
The magnifying glass icon displays elements of the current page you are viewing.  There are 3 menu options under this icon: Page Elements, Page Attributes and Link Data.  The Page Elements option quickly shows meta data, tag data and text to code ratios. The Page Attribute options show meta robots, rel=”canonical”, page load time, internal and external links to the page and server response code for the page.  Lastly, the Link Data option shows Moz data for the page, domain and subdomain.  This icon is great tool to see the basic elements of any webpage quickly.   This is one of the icons I use the most out of any of the toolbars being discussed today.

The Highlighter:
The icon of the Highlighter Marker is a great tool to see links on the page in different colors.  It is great for a visual person like me.   The tool displays follow, no follow, external and internal links all in their own individual color.  There is also an option to search for a keyword on the page, which will also display in a unique color.  This is just a great visual tool.

There are some other useful tools/options available in both tool bars, but the icons displayed in this post are the icons I use the most.  Many of the icons include multiple tools and websites inside of them.  It is a true collection of great tools and bookmarks, which will prove very useful for SEO websites.  If you haven’t downloaded the tools bars yet, they are both free and all you need to do is either click on the tools bars in this post or the images for SEOBook or SEOMoz at the beginning of this post.

If anyone uses any other useful toolbars, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.