If you’re like me, then you have played with Google’s Advanced Search strings and messed around with changing variables to see what happens. There are some interesting things that you can do with Google search. For instance, you can build a query that finds every website inside the USA that links to a specific website by creating a simple query string using the operators and parameters listed in this chart.
If search string queries are something new to you, then a quick primer might be in order. When Google adds a new web page to their index, they also add extra data that describes the page. This includes keyword terms that Google believes describes the page, when it was discovered by the search engine, the language it is in, where in the world the website is located, and much more. You can filter your search results to retrieve more specific information by specifying this extra data.
For example, look at the following Google Advanced Search Query:
This search phrase is looking for web pages written in English and published in the USA during the past year, where the keywords are ‘marketing’ and ‘tips’.
There are several operators you can use in your search queries. + is used to add a word, – is used to filter out any results containing the specified word. Double-quotes are used to specify an exact search, and * can be used to fill in a blank between two known words in an unknown phrase where you need an exact match.
One of my favorite search queries is used when I want to find content on a particular site. You can type your search phrase, followed by site:your site.url and Google will give you results from only the website you specify.
Here is a table of some queries you can use. It is not comprehensive, but have fun playing with these queries to get your feet wet and soon people will think you’re a search engine ninja!