Pretty much everyone uses Google to conduct online searches these days, but there are a few search operators that can be of great help for entrepreneurs. Use these simple Google search operators to boost your business’ exposure online.
Find Specific Document Types
The filetype operator helps you search for documents of a certain file type format. Simply place the desired keyword or phrase in front of the operator, and Google will only return results that match the specified file format.
Syntax: “keyword(s)” filetype:extension
The extension can be anything you need: doc, pdf, xls, ppt, and so on.
Example: “self-publishing tips” filetype:pdf
How can the filetype operator help your business?
Businesses can promote themselves effectively by producing helpful reports and e-books that address their customers’ problems. These reports and e-books can then be distributed through a wide range of websites and online file upload sites like slideshare.net, scribd.com, and so on.
Often times, the download links to these reports can also be sent to niche-specific influencers through social media and email; if your reports are really good, they may choose to share them with their blog readers, fans and followers, significantly boosting your website’s exposure.
When people download your e-book or report, they should get the information that they were looking for; however, the report should be written in such a way that the reader is enticed to click your website link for more information, a free trial, or further assistance.
When properly written, a free e-book or report helps build your online business’ niche credibility, and can quickly help you become an authority in your industry.
Since most online niches are highly competitive, you need all the help you can get. By creating high quality, niche related e-books and guides, you will rise above your competition.
These reports help you engage your customers and message them directly; you will have their undivided attention while they are reading the e-book.
Use Explicit Phrases
Surrounding a word or a group of words with quotation marks helps you find explicit mentions of the word(s).
Example: “self-publishing guide”
The Google search in the example above will return pages that explicitly contain the “self-publishing guide” group of words in their title or in the article body.
How does this operator help entrepreneurs?
You work hard to get your online business noticed. You have probably written some good quality articles, in an effort to spread the word about your business.
You might have even established social media accounts at the top sites, in an effort to engage your site visitors and potential audience members.
You might have even gone so far as to contact other websites in your niche, asking them to publish your fantastic articles, or content that mentions your website and links back to your website.
You might have even sent out lots of targeted press releases.
All your promotional efforts might have resulted in a few backlinks and a few website visits. However, some of the mentions your brand has gotten online are not linking back to your website.
This is a wasted website traffic opportunity.
You can use the explicit phrase Google search operator to RECLAIM all mentions of your brand online.
Whether people are talking about your brand in a blog post or on a forum somewhere, when you use this search operator, you will find the mention, and then you can ask the bloggers that have mentioned your company to also include a link to your site.
This helps your website get better rankings and receive more targeted visitors, boosting your online business’ profits.
It is important to understand that search engines rank your site based on the quality and quantity of backlinks. Use the explicit phrase search operator to turn those brand mentions into backlinks to your website, so that you can get more website traffic from search engines.
Since people are already mentioning your brand, you should make these mentions work for you by reclaiming them and turning them into live links.
Perform Site-Specific Searches
This operator searches a particular website for content that mentions a specific word or a group of words.
Syntax: “keyword(s)” site:domain
Example: “guest post” site:copyblogger.com
Why use this?
One of the most effective ways to get search engine traffic for your online business is through guest posts on authoritative sites in your niche.
While it is fairly easy to come up with a list of websites that are respected and / or authoritative in your niche, it can be harder to find out if they are interested in posting other people’s content.
The site Google search operator will help you determine if a particular website is interested in guest posts, for example.
The same operator will help you identify if that particular website has already covered certain topics; you want to focus your energy on creating 100% unique content. It’s a simple method that allows you to increase the chances of getting your guest post article accepted and published.
Get Creative with the Wildcard Operator
This operator helps you find content that includes the specified keyword(s) and other words or phrases. In a nutshell, the wildcard operator helps you find content that is related to your keyword(s).
Syntax: keyword(s) * keyword(s)
Example: small business * report
In this case, the wildcard operator symbol will be replaced with various words or groups of words. For laser-targeted results, combine the wildcard and the explicit phrases (quotes) operators.
Example: “small business * report”
But how can this Google search operator help?
First of all, it allows you to come up with various ideas for your own reports, and can even provide new product ideas.
Then, it will help you discover the competitors’ top website pages that address a certain topic. Go through each page, writing down their great ideas, and then write even better content pieces, which provide even more value for the reader.
Search Results Exclusions
This operator prevents the pages that contain the excluded words (specified by you) from showing up in Google’s search results. It allows you to find content pages that include your target keywords or phrases, but don’t contain the unwanted keywords or phrases.
Syntax: keyword(s) –unwanted word(s)
Let us pretend that you plan to write and publish a book, but you aren’t interested in publishing for Kindle; in this case, you would use a search string like the one below:
“self-publishing guide” –kindle
How does this Google search operator help entrepreneurs?
The example above shows how easily it is to exclude a specific brand, product or service from the search results pages. Use this search operator to determine which national or international suppliers haven’t signed contracts with your local competitors, for example. Then, get in touch with them and become their reseller.
As an example, if your competitor’s name is Kemykals, Inc. and you are a paint importer, you would use a search string like this:
“paint suppliers” -kemykals
The Cached Content Operator
This operator helps you view unavailable content using Google’s caching technology. It is a well-known fact that many sites ‘disappear’ for days, weeks or even months due to domain or hosting fee non-payments, legal issues, and a wide variety of other problems.
Often times, the website you are interested in is just temporarily offline, but you need to access its content right now. The good news is that Google’s cache operator makes all of this possible.
List Your Business on Wikipedia
This combination of operators finds pages on Wikipedia which have citations that go to a dead link.
Syntax: site:wikipedia.org keyword(s) “dead link”
Example: site:wikipedia.org self-publishing “dead link”
Explore Google’s search results, find a relevant, niche related dead link on the page, and then create a fantastic resource page that can serve as a replacement for the dead link.
Use WayBackMachine to see an actual copy of the dead resource page, and then update and improve it. Add more content, videos, infographics, etc to make it better.
Resist the temptation to simply copy / paste the content of the dead resource on your website; this may get you into trouble.
Don’t forget that your resource shouldn’t be promotional at all; if it adds value to the Wikipedia page, you can add its link to the target page using a free Wikipedia account and it will stick.
Remove Results from Specific Domains
This minus operator removes results from a specific website.
Syntax: keyword(s) -domain
Example: kindle -amazon.com
Why use the search exclusion operator?
First of all, you want to keep an eye on your competitors. What are people saying about them? How often do they send out press releases?
A Google search like the one below will reveal all your competitor’s brand mentions, excluding the ones that come from their own site.
Here’s another idea: if you are doing research for your blog posts, reports, and so on, the last thing you want to do is waste your time manually filtering results from low-quality sites with tons of junk pages.
If you know that a particular website publishes useless, low quality articles, for example, you can exclude it from the search results pages right off the bat.
Find Highly Targeted Web Pages
This allintitle operator returns website pages that include all the specified keywords in their titles.
Example: allintitle:self-publishing tips
How to use the allintitle operator?
The web is constantly growing, and this means that the number of search results is growing each day. How can business owners keep up with the latest industry news, for example, when they have to go through tens or hundreds of search results in order to find the good stuff?
Fortunately, allintitle allows you to find highly relevant resources; if a blogger has taken the time to name his or her page “Self-Publishing Tips and Resources”, then that page should contain self-publishing tips and resources, right?
You are probably running a business in an industry where people maintain niche-specific directories, which are extremely valuable, because they can send qualified website traffic. Here is an example that allows you to find directories in the self-publishing niche:
allintitle:self publishing directory
Discover Related Websites
The related operator helps you find websites that are related to the specified domain.
How to use this search operator?
If you have a tough time finding industry-related websites for partnerships, outreach and backlink building purposes, this search operator will help you tap into Google’s ability of discovering related sites.
Use this operator to find websites that are in the same niche or content category, starting with a website that you already know is relevant.
Basically, you will only need to start with one ‘seed’ website; the related search operator will help you discover dozens of similar sites. Then, use the operator again, in conjunction with each one of the newly discovered sites, and you will quickly end up having a list of hundreds of industry-related websites.
Use these related sites to boost website traffic and build backlinks. Contact their owners, asking them if they are interested in posting your high quality content, or even asking to interview them on your blog.
When you interview site owners, they will often times link back to your website, or at least mention the interview url on Twitter or other social media platforms.
These are the most important Google search operators that can boost your business’ profitability. Use them creatively and you will quickly be able to learn from, and then dominate your competitors.