What are you searching for? Maybe I can help you find it.
As a Digital PR Manager at Ignite Visibility, I’m always on the hunt for new opportunities. This requires extensive searching on platforms like Google, but I’m up for the challenge.
Plus, I have search operators on my side.
So what are search operators, and how can you employ them to help you build your link profile?
What Are Search Operators?
Search operators are a way for search engine users to narrow down their search. They work as a character or set of characters (which can be letters or otherwise).
Google has a lot of content to sift through every time you put in a query. Using search operators helps you find more tailored results.
There is no shortage of operators. You could find thousands on the web that function to deepen the specificity of a search. However, when it comes to link building, there are some key ones worth focusing on.
Link building is super important if you want to rank well overall on Google. It makes a lot of sense to use Google search link operators to find those linking opportunities to begin with!
Different Ways to Use Search Operators for Link Building
When you think of the link building process, what comes to mind?
For me, it’s researching things like:
- Branded terms
- A broad search scope
- URL slugs
- Editorial contact information
- Guest Posting
Related: 25 of the Best Guest Posting & Guest Blogging Sites for Marketers
This is just the start.
You can find reference links and backlinks using Google search operators with all of these mechanisms in mind.
Of course, operators are good for more than just link building. For example, you can unearth duplicate content that’s floating around on the web or you can figure out whether or not your site is being properly indexed. You can also identify non-secure pages (aka URLs that start with “http” rather than “https”) from your or your client’s website and fix the issue.
However, Google search link operators are something you better not sleep on so you can find backlinks using Google search!
Search Operators for Finding Branded Terms
When searching for branded terms, use “quotation marks” around the term you’re trying to match. This will yield an exact match.
When you do this, make sure you spell everything correctly.
Brands spell their names in a variety of different ways across the web. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find branded terms when they’re misspelled. Make sure you’re hitting every variation of how the brand spells (or misspells) their name. This is an awesome and thorough way to build links for branded terms.
Getting Really Specific with Search Operators
The “allintext” search option is really cool.
Use allintext: to search for text that contains every word in your query (except for filler words like “for” or “the”).
For example, if you search “content marketing strategy template” without an operator, results include general content marketing templates and tips. However, add the allintext operator before the term and you’ll get templates specifically for content marketing strategy.
You can use a similar operator, allinanchor:, to specify specific terms you want used in a piece of content’s anchor text (or the text that holds a hyperlink). The same goes for a title (allintitle:) and URL (allinurl:). I love the consistency on this one!
You could technically get even more nuanced by using the general intitle: operator, which you can use for a single part of a query. For example, you could say:
template intitle:content marketing
This would ensure that the phrase “content marketing” is in your title, though “template” could be in the body of the text only.
Link Building Search Operators for Opening Up the Search Space
You might use quotes or the “allintext:” operator if you need to narrow down your query. But what if your search is too specific? Use the term and when trying to diversify your search.
This is useful when you want to help Google further its reach and relevance. You can build links to related and relevant terms this way.
Search Operators for Making Sure a Term Is In the URL
Want to hone in on the URL of a web page? Google says, “I can fix that.”
inurl: is my most used search operator. Why? Because it guarantees you will find the precise category of pages that you’re looking for. If you want resource pages or directories to populate, you can use inurl:resources. This will result in only URLs with resources populating in the results page.
Using the minus sign in front of URL (-inurl:) is very useful as well, especially when used in tandem with other search operators. For example, you can write:
-inurl:ignitevisibility.com best seo company
At Ignite, we currently rank second for the term “best SEO company”.
Using the minus sign with this search operator (plus a term) will yield all companies except Ignite that rank for the term.
When link building for a client, you occasionally have to eliminate the client’s URL. That way, you can see other sites you can reach out to that are relevant to your brand. Use this method to build relevant links that focus on quality more than quantity.
Search Operators for Finding the Right Contact
Using the name of a site plus inurl: and “email” (in quotation marks) can help you find contact information. Sometimes, it’s tricky to find a contact for a publication, and doing this can potentially remove the hassle.
As an addendum to this trick, you can also use paid or free versions of tools (depending on your outreach output) like Hunter.io and Buzzstream. One or all of these tricks can help you get contacts for link building super easily.
Google Search Link Operators for Finding Guest Posting Opportunities
Guest posting is a great way to get your or your client’s name, brand name and links out to relevant audiences. You can easily find guest posting opportunities to contribute to sites by using a combination of search operations like INURL:write-for-us “keyword”.
This is a solid way for you to target low-hanging fruit and land those guest posting opportunities from the outset.
That’s not the only way a search operator can help you discover guest posting opportunities. Say you have a pitch for an article and you need to know if the website has already published something similar. Type your keyword in and follow it with site:URL to find out if there’s any content within your target website that relates to the topic.
1. Can you combine search operators for a more niche search?
Using the link building search operators in different combinations is a powerful tool when creating link building campaigns. I recommend playing around with different combinations to see the outcomes.
2. What if your operator isn’t working?
Now is the time to check—and recheck—the spelling of your operators. They may just be a few characters, but they’re easy to misplace or misspell. Once you fix it the search operators are sure to start, well, operating.
3. What other link building strategies should you use?
Search operators are just one link building strategy in an entire cornucopia. It’s not a gimmick—there’s a lot of research and work involved, and it doesn’t even get into the communication side of things. Pair this strategy with proper and consistent outreach and content creation and you’re in for a swarm of link building success.
Related: 11 Powerful SEO Link Building Strategies For 2021
Bottom Line On Search Operators for Link Building
The search engine landscape is a robust one. Despite the fact that Google has probably only indexed a fraction of the internet, there are trillions and trillions of web pages out there in the internet abyss. If you’re looking for something specific and trying to build well-qualified links, search operators are a must. It’ll make your job easier, and it will get you closer to relevant prospects than ever before.