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Google Advanced Search: Tips and Operators for Better Searches

Man using Google for advanced searches

Google advanced search lets you cut through Internet clutter – and there’s no shortage of clutter on the Internet – to zero in on exactly the search results you are looking for.

Google advanced search has applications for web users of all types, and especially for ecommerce entrepreneurs: implementing advanced google search tips  makes it easier to identify opportunities, scope out competitors, and understand how Google (and Google users) sees your store.

After all, you don’t always want Google to give you 5,010,371 pages to choose from. Sometimes you want to know something precise. For example, which websites are linking to your store. Or how easy it is to find products in your store. Or what your competitors are selling.

Now, not all advanced Google searches are relevant for ecommerce. For example, Google Search’s nifty “timer” feature – which opens up a timer if you type something like “15 minutes timer” – probably isn’t going to help you scale. But there are a number of Google advanced searches that will help turn Google Search into your personal market research lab.

This post will go over the most useful advanced Google search features, and look at how you can use them to optimize your ecommerce business.

What is Google Advanced Search?

Google advanced search is a way to customize your Google searches with a set of special instructions. Known as operators and commands, these advanced Google search instructions tell Google that you don’t want to search the entire internet, front to back and top to bottom, and are instead interested in more specific queries.

Your parents probably wouldn’t ever use advanced Google search. A couple reasons why. First off, the commands that you have to feed Google are simple but not necessarily obvious; it would be hard to guess Google advanced search commands. Second, your parents probably wouldn’t need to use advanced Google search. These searches are designed to run very specific, particular queries.

This might all make more sense once we look at some examples of search operators, so let’s dive in!

Google Advanced Search Operators

Most people write a word, a question, or a sentence when they’re looking for something specific on Google. But there are actually various kinds of search operators that you can use to filter the search results. Below are some of the most popular operators that can all be combined to dive deep into Google’s index. 

Exact Search

What it is: Exact search is the most basic advanced Google search. (Your parents actually probably could pull this one off.) All you’re doing with this Google search operator is putting quotation marks around your search terms. This tells Google that you want results for exactly what’s inside the quotes. Google is already pretty good at mind-reading, but these quotes let you remove any confusion and ensure the most relevant results.

When to use it: Use this advanced Google search when you only want results that contain a precise phrase.

What it looks like:

Exact search in GoogleOR Search

What it is: Using OR (it has to be upper-case!) lets you search for multiple separate search terms. Unlike the exact search, which narrows your results, this advanced Google search operator broadens your query to bring you more results.

When to use it: There are a couple scenarios where you might want to use this Google advanced search. First, it is great for when you are looking for information that might be found with multiple search terms, like “french press” and “cafetiere”. It’s also good if you don’t know the best phrase to find the info the info you’re looking for.

NOTE: If the OR isn’t upper-case, then Google might think you’re trying to figure out a linguistic question, like whether you should use towards or toward. This will bring up results explaining how British English and American English differ. So remember – OR!

What it looks like:An "OR" search in Google Search

Exclusion Search

What it is: This advanced Google search lets you exclude certain items from your search results. It’s like ordering a cheeseburger and telling the chef to exclude the ketchup. This way you can conduct an internet-wide search but ignore results containing your excluded terms So, if anyone asks you how to exclude something from a Google search, you can tell them about the exclusion search operator. 

When to use it: This Google advanced search tip is great for when a word has multiple meanings. If you want to browse plants on Amazon, for instance, and don’t want Google to think that you are researching ecological diversity in the Amazon rainforest, then this is the Google advanced search to use.

What it looks like:Exclusion search on Google

Site Search

What it is: This is an advanced Google search that lets you zero in on a specific website or domain. With the Google search specific site operator, you are telling Google that you don’t want to search the entire web, but instead just a particular site.

When to use it: This is an awesome Google advanced search tactic with multiple applications. Ecommerce entrepreneurs can use it to scope out competitors’ websites. Let’s say you’re in the yoga niche, and you want to know if your competitors over at yogastuff.com are selling a certain item. You can tell Google to search only that competitor’s website. You can also use this Google search operator to look for certain words and phrases on your own site. This is especially helpful if you want to search for potential duplicate products or content.

What it looks like:

Site search with Google advanced search

NOTE: Oh! This Google search trick has an opposite – instead of typing site:yogastuff.com, you type -site:yogastuff.com. Then you’ll be searching the entire web with the exception of that one site.

Filetype Search

What it is: This Google advanced search feature lets you narrow down the search results to specific file types, such as .GIF, .PNG, .PPT, etc. If you do not write the file format in front of this operator, Google will show links to all the files related to the search query. 

When to use it: Consider using this search operator when you’re looking for product images to use on your website. You can limit the file type to .PNG to get quick results. Another use case can involve researching PowerPoint presentations related to a specific product to see if you can add anything valuable to the product’s description.

What it looks like: 

Filetype search in Google

Related Search

What it is: The related search advanced Google search lets you find websites that are similar to one another. When you do a related search, Google will spit out results for sites that are in the same ballpark as the one you have singled out.

When to use it: For ecommerce experts, related search is perfect for scoping out the competition. You can plug in your site to a related search, and then Google will automatically pull up other sites on the web that are similar. This would let you do some market research on the products they are selling, prices, and more.

What it looks like:

Related search in GooglePrice search

What it is: Price search is an advanced Google search command that lets you tell Google to find a specific product at a specific price. So instead of going to an online store to look for something, you can use Google to search the entirety of the web. You just type in a product, followed by a price (use a dollar sign to specify that you’re looking for a price).

When to use it: As an ecommerce store owner, you can use this Google advanced search to see how products in your niche are priced. If you are in the pet niche and you want to add a dog sweater to your store, then use the price search to find a range for dog sweater prices around the web.

What it looks like:

Price search with Google

NOTE: There’s a hack you can add to this advanced Google search: Make it a price range instead of an exact price. This price range Google search technique lets you dig a little deeper as you investigate how to price your products. To use a range instead of an exact number, simply add two periods between the prices in your price range. Like so: dog sweater $13..$17.

Link Search

What it is: Unlike a normal search, where Google scours the web for certain terms, link search is an advanced Google search for finding links between websites. If any website links to the site in your search, you’ll see it in the search results.

When to use it: Use such Google advanced search operators when you want Google to know that you’re not interested in content, but rather the links contained within that content. So if you want to know, for example, which websites are linking to your website, use link search. You might also use it to look at which websites are linking to your competition so that you can reach out to them and get a link of your own.

What it looks like:

A link search with GoogleAll In Title, All In Text, and All In URL

What it is: We’re combining these three advanced Google search techniques together because they perform the same function – just on different parts of the page.

All in title lets you track down pages that have a specific set of words in the title, and discard pages that don’t have the magical text in the title. All in text does the same, but instead of scanning titles, it’s an advanced Google search that scans text of posts and pages. Finally, all in URL lets you – you guessed it – find pages that have certain terms in the URL.

When to use it: These advanced Google search tips are awesome for determining the most common phrasing that your competition uses for certain products. You could try to outrank them on those same phrases, or you could combine advanced Google search results with keyword research to identify low-hanging fruit. For example, if you sell smartphone accessories, and you notice that there are thousands of titles, pages, and URLs that contain “smartphone case” but very few that contain “smartphone holder,” you might have just identified a micro-niche that is underserved.

What it looks like: (“allintitle” can be swapped out for “allintext” and “allinurl”)

The "allintitle" search from Google search

NOTE: You can ditch the “all” in any of these advanced Google searches to combine search queries. For example, if you want to know whether “durable” is a big selling point for other stores selling iPhone cases, you could do a search like this: iphone cases intext:durable. That would give you a Google search for iPhone cases, and limit things to iPhone cases that are described in the text as being durable. You could do the same search but use intitle instead of intext, showing you which iPhone case providers think durability is important enough to mention in the title of a page.

Autocomplete

What it is: Autocomplete – yes, the same autocomplete that we use to find song lyrics and movie titles – can be used as part of your advanced Google search arsenal. Google knows which terms and phrases people use in combination, and will fill in the blanks whether you are looking for elusive words to an early-90s chorus or doing market research for your ecommerce store.

When to use it: Ecommerce merchants can use autocomplete for a variety of functions. For example, you can compare products; determine which products often appear together; and figure out the keywords and phrases that Google most commonly associates with your products.

What it looks like:

Autocomplete results from GoogleAutocomplete with Google search

Google offering suggestions to complete a search

Missing Words

What it is: This is a more formal way of doing the same sort of thing that you’d do with autocomplete. Instead of starting a search query and then letting Google suggest ways to finish it, you tell Google exactly which piece of the puzzle you’re missing.

When to use it: If you want Google to fill in a blank for you, then you’ll want to use the missing words advanced Google search. This Google search tactic is often used to finish a phrase. For example, cry over * milk.

What it looks like:

Google search with missing word

Definitions

What it is: This advanced search option presents you with a built-in Google dictionary. Your search will display the meaning of the word that you’re looking for in a card-like format. You get the definition, a bunch of synonyms (and sometimes antonyms), as well as an example sentence using the word you’re looking for. You can also listen to the pronunciation of the word by pressing the megaphone icon.

When to use it: This Google search technique is for when you quickly need to look up the definition of a word or phrase. Or maybe to see how to pronounce a specific word.

What it looks like:

Google advanced search trick

Bonus tip: Google knows that lots of people use Google Search as a dictionary. Thus, while this format works, you can also get lazy and do it like this:

Google search tips

Location-Specific News

What it is: The magic of this command is to bring back results from the location that you’ve specified. So this Google trick will help narrow down your search if you’re looking for sports or current events that are related to a particular area.

When to use it: This Google search tip is helpful if you’re searching for something in a specific location. So, if you’re looking for news from a certain area, and want to filter your search, use this Google advanced search.

What it looks like:

Google search tips

Using the Google Advanced Search Page

Even though all the world’s knowledge is accessible through Google, it doesn’t mean you should have to look through all of it to find what you need. There’s an easier way for you to make a search and use all of Google’s advanced search features without actually having to remember all of them.

That’s the advanced search web page on Google.

This web page makes your Google advanced searches very precise and easy to use. With this tool you can limit your searches by attributes that aren’t available through the regular Google search box. All you have to do is fill in the boxes on the page. In front of each box, you’ll find an explanation of how that search will narrow down your results.  

Google advanced search page

Google’s advanced search page can come in handy when you’re looking for academic results, a specific type of image, or even an advanced video search. Below are some additional details on these searches. 

Google Images Advanced Search

For most ecommerce entrepreneurs, a simple image search on Google is enough to return the product images they’re after. However, you also have the option to use Google Images Advanced Search to better filter the results. For instance, if you’re struggling to find product images with a transparent background, you can use a filter so that only images with a clear background are displayed.

To see what filters are available, open images.google.com, go to Settings and then select Advanced Search.

Google Images Advanced Search

As you can see in the screenshot above, Google Images Advanced Search lets you refine the results by image type, aspect ratio, colors in the image, usage rights and more. Make sure to select “Labeled for reuse” or “Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification” as the usage type if you’re looking for stock-free images to use on your product pages

Google Advanced Video Search

As for images, Google offers advanced search features that allow you to filter the results for online videos. For example, you may want to search for videos that aren’t too long or too short. With Google Advanced Video Search, you can tell Google to keep the results to videos that have a medium length.

To see a complete list of available filters, type in any search query on Google, click on the videos tab, open Settings and then choose Advanced Search. 

Google Advanced Video Search 

You can also limit the results to HD only videos, search just one website (like Vimeo) for video-based content, and find videos with subtitles/closed captions. If you search for “table tennis table” and choose the “closed captions only” filter, Google will present you with videos featuring a table tennis table and subtitles, like here:

advanced video search Google

If you’re looking to embed videos on your ecommerce website, these advanced video search filters will most likely come in handy.   

Google News Advanced Search

You’re most likely to be unaware of this: Google has an advanced news search page where you look for news stories from a specific source, location, or topic category. The source filter is especially useful because it keeps you from spending time trying to recall the complete URL of the news source. Just tell Google the words you know, and it will return results from sources whose name includes those specific words.

Google advanced search for news

To give an example, typing “beast” into the Google News advanced search bar will display news results from The Daily Beast and other news outlets that contain “Beast” in their company’s name.

Google News Advanced Search

Quick Google Advanced Searches

Calculator

When you need to do a quick calculation, instead of trying to look for a calculator or opening up your calculator app, all you have to do is type “calculator” into Google, and you’ll be presented with one.

Google search tricks

Tip Calculator

In addition to the normal calculator, you have access to Google’s built in tip calculator. So, the next time you’re at a bar or cafe and trying to figure out the math behind the tip, you can look it up instantly using this search trick. All you have to do is search “tip calculator”, enter the bill amount, percentage, and number of people it’s shared between.

google advanced search tip

Timer

If you need to count down to a moment, you can rely on Google’s built-in timer. All you have to do is type in an amount of time + the word “timer”, and the countdown will begin.

google search trick

Stopwatch

Just like the timer, to use the stopwatch, simply search for the term “stopwatch” on Google, and you’ll get one right away. You can start and stop it just as you please.

google search trick

Weather

If you’re looking for the weather stats or forecast for a certain place, all you have to is search weather + the area you’re interested in.

google advanced search options

Airline Info 

If you search for the airline and airplane number in Google, you’ll be able to see the flight terminal, gate number, expected time of departure, expected time of arrival, time to destination, and more. 

flight info advanced google search

Bonus! Funny Google Advanced Searches

Before we wrap things up, here are three goofy Google search tricks that will help you kill a minute or two.

Google “do a barrel roll” and the Google search page will literally spin in a circle.

Google “google in 1998” to see what Google search looked like a decade ago.

Google “define anagram” – which is a word or phrase created by moving around the letters from different words or phrases – and Google will ask, “Did you mean: nerd fame again”. Get it?

Google “flip a coin” – and you’ll get a live coin toss!

Which Google search trick are you most excited to start using? Let us know in the comments below!

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