A Useful Guide on Google’s Search Operators and Hacks

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Google has over trillion webpages indexed on its database. Finding the right websites for building partnerships or to find a very specific piece of information on the web can be a grueling task. This is where search operators come in handy. Once you get a hang of it, you will get your desired pages in no time, and with less effort. Operators can be effective time savers and help you in narrowing down your search.

We have listed some operators which can be used to simplify your data mining or extraction process of any kind.

Introduction to basic operators

If you are in SEO, finding authoritative sites for links can be quite difficult, but worry not, Google has provided some advanced operators to ease your burden and make it easier to find relevant sources.

Here is a list of advanced operators you can use.

1. Site operator (site:)

This is one of the most basic operators. It lets you find the number of pages Google has indexed for a website. It also returns the instances of a query on a particular website. It’s also very effective if you want to find something on a website which does not have a built-in search box.

Hack: Not just the default ‘Web’ results, site operators can also be used for -

  • Image search
  • Video search or
  • News search


Fitness trackers site: flipkart.com will return results related to fitness trackers from only flipkart.com. You can combine “site:” operator with other operators to narrow down your search.

Useful tip: http://moz.com/blog/25-killer-combos-for-googles-site-operator gives a comprehensive list of combinations to use with site: operator.

2. Cache operator (cache:)

This operator gives a snapshot view of a Web page as it looked when Googlebot last visited the page. Cache is a simple operator, and most people make extensive use of it to check whether search engine crawlers have cached all the content on their website.

Hack: Did you know that cache operator can be used to hack certain paywalls?

Yes! The cache operator sometimes can be used to bypass soft paywalls. A paywall is a system that prevents Internet users from accessing webpage content without a paid subscription. Sites like www.chicagotribune.com and www.glassdoor.com use soft paywalls in order to ensure users monetarily subscribe or sign up to their services.

With cache operator all you have to do is access their cache copy, and then click on the ‘Text Only Version’ link to read all the content without subscribing or signing up! ;)

If you have a client that uses paywalls, then you should definitely use cache to find this loop hole and take steps to plug it!

3. Related operator (related:)

With ‘related:’ operator,finding your competitors or finding similar websites becomes a child’s play.

This operator returns pages that it thinks is similar to the specified webpage. Although this operator is not accurate enough for small and new websites, we can still use this operator to find our competitors and other related sites in popular business domain.

Hack: This operator can list websites which have similar functionality.

For example,
related: https://ahrefs.com/

This gives a list of websites which are similar in functionality to ahref.

4. Filetype operator (filetype:)

Do you want to look for PDF guides on certain topics? Or do you want to extract only PDF files from a particular website? The ‘filetype:’ operator helps you do just that and more by narrowing your search result to files such as PDF, PPT, XLS or any extension that exists.Currently content inside pdf and ppts don’t get indexed by Google and finding such files will uncover vast amount of undiscovered information to study and research.

Example: regex google analytics filetype: ppt

It will return all the .ppt files on the internet related to Google Analytics and regex.

Hack: If you want to learn in depth about Google Algorithms and its impact on SEO simply type queries such as

  • SEO panda filetype:pdf or
  • SEO panda filetype:ppt


Need a SEO audit template? Simply type SEO audit filetype:doc and you will get a list of resourceful templates.

Useful tip: If you use the cache: operator regularly, now save time by using the below extensions/add-ons in Chrome and Mozilla Firefox respectively:


That’s it for now. But wait! We have just covered the tip of the iceberg, there’s lot of search operators to write about which we will cover in the next part.

Happy searching :-)

For more operators read our part 2.

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