Using Advanced Search Techniques

One of the basic tools of the trade for an SEO practitioner is the search engines themselves. They provide a rich array of commands that can be used to perform advanced research, diagnosis, and competitive analysis. Some of the more basic operators are:


Excludes the keyword from the search results. For example, loans -student shows results for all types of loans except student loans.


Allows for forcing the inclusion of a keyword. This is particularly useful for including stopwords (keywords that are normally stripped from a search query because they usually do not add value, such as the word the) in a query, or if your keyword is getting converted into multiple keywords through automatic stemming. For example, if you mean to search for the TV show The Office, you would want the word The to be part of the query. As another example, if you are looking for Patrick Powers, who was from Ireland, you would search for patrick powers + Ireland to avoid irrelevant results for Patrick Powers.

"key phrase"

Shows search results for the exact phrase—for example, "seo company".

keyword1 OR keyword2

Shows results for at least one of the keywords—for example, google OR Yahoo!.

These are the basics, but for those who want more information, what follows is an outline of the more advanced search operators available from the search engines.

Advanced Google Search Operators

Google supports a number of advanced search operators ( ...

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