Learning how to use Google search operators like a pro is a big deal these days. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what they’re doing. They’re simply typing into the magic bar and hitting ‘search’ in hopes of finding the content they’re looking for.
Do you want the end user finding your unique quality content, or would you rather they found your competitors? In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how you can find relevant keywords for your online marketing efforts that will bring in the traffic you’ve been searching for. And no, this isn’t an overnight ‘hack.’ So if you’re looking for something quick, exit this page.
But, if you want to avoid the paid advertising method (initially) and attract organic traffic via SEO, then digesting this article is a must. I’ll keep this as simple as possible so you know which keywords to go after and why they’re the best keyword for you’re marketing efforts.
My goal here is for you to understand how Google’s search operators work, why it’s important for creating a presence through your content and most importantly how to use them to your advantage. So whether you’re running your own digital marketing agency, or you’re a self-starting blogger, welcome to the tutorial.
Search Operators Definition
Moz defines search operators as: “Google search operators are special characters and commands (sometimes called “advanced operators”) that extend the capabilities of regular text searches. “
To put it simply, it helps you find what you’re looking for in this vast space called the internet. Now for an everyday user, using these search operators may not mean much, but if you’re wanting to rank your content for a specific keyword, it means everything!
Step 1: Use The Google Keyword Planner
The Google keyword planner, formerly known as the Google keyword tool, is part of Google’s advertising platform for anyone looking to expand their reach to a specific market. This tool allows you to search for specific keyword phrases to see how much a potential bid (CPC, Cost-per-click) would cost if you ran an advertisement towards said keyword.
You can setup your Google keyword planner account here. It’s free to set up, although I believe now Google requires you to have a card on file to gain access to this tool.
Once you’re all signed in and have access to the keyword planner, click the box to the left that reads ‘Find new keywords’ and the box will expand.
Type in the keyword and or keyword phrase you want to target. For example, I’m a huge fan of Patagonia outdoor clothing and gear. Maybe I want to do a product review and want to specifically see if it’s worth targeting a specific jacket that I’d like to earn affiliate commissions for.
They have a jacket called the ‘Jackson Glacier Jacket.” So I’d search for, Patagonia Jackson Glacier Jacket and then hit enter to see what results come up along with the keywords specific search volume.
If you look at the top, you can see that this specific search is coming specifically from the United States, is being searched in English, from the Google search network, between November 2017 and October 2018. You can adjust these parameters as necessary if you please although I wouldn’t recommend it, unless of course your keyword requires it.
You’ll see some columns with words like keyword (by relevance), avg. monthly searches, competition, top of page bid, etc. Don’t worry yourself with these. We only want to know what the average monthly searches are for this exact phrase match.
Step 2: Put Your Keyword Phrase In “Quotes”
Now that we have our keyword selected, we want to check how many competing pages there are within the SERP (search engine results page). We can find this by where it says ‘results.’
For this specific keyword, this means that there are 389,000 competing pages that Google deems as relevant containing the words ‘Patagonia Jackson Glacier Jacket.’ This is a broad search match.
When we put our keyword in quotes, this is what we call an exact search match. Watch what happens to the results when we put it in quotes.
Results went from 389,000 all the way down to 9,600 competing pages. This means that out the initial 389,000 results, only 9,600 websites are specifically using the phrase Patagonia Jackson Glacier Jacket.”
Anytime I do SEO, I typically look for a long-tail keyword with in-quote results under 40,000.
SEO TIP: Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are typically more specific and have less SERP competition. For example: the search term “Air Jordan’s” is a short-tail keyword with results of 21,900,000 MILLION competing pages.
The phrase “Jordan 7 Barcelona Nights” is a long-tail keyword (specific shoe of the Jordan brand) that brings back results just under 101,000. So in essence, long-tail keywords are longer, more specific, and typically less competitive in the SERP’s. Go after these!
If the results come back over 40,000 I know the phrase is going to be highly competitive and I’d rather not go after it. Unless you plan on doing extensive backlinking (I’ll cover backlinking in a separate post) I wouldn’t go for it.
Step 3: Allintitle:”Your Keyword Phrase”
This next Google search operator is really just adding another filter onto what we previous did with quotes. Except this time, we’re going to add allintitle: before our phrase in quotes.
We can see this search operator showing us all the web pages who are using the exact phrase ‘Patagonia Jackson Glacier Jacket’ in the title of their web page. Notice how the results drop down to only 234 pages who are using this. I typically want this to be under 5,000. This is a great sign!
Step 4: Allinurl: “Your Keyword Phrase”
Allinurl means is going to show up how many pages are using the phrase in their website’s URL permalink structure.
It’s showing /patagonia-jackson-glacier-jacket. This means this particular website is optimizing for our exact keword phrase. Very smart on-page optimization on their end. This result tells us that out of the original 389,000 pages, only 81 are properly optimizing for this keyword. You typically want these results to come back under 2,000 results to tell if it’s worthwhile to optimize for.
Step 5: Does It Meet Our SEO Requirements?
Having gone through the tutorial up to this point, you now have a better understanding of how to use Google’s Keyword planner and search operators. Now the real test… is the keyword you’re eyeing worth competing for?
If it meets the following requirements, I say yes! 🙂
• Over 500 – 1,000 searches per month
• Long-tail keyword (4 words or more)
• Under 40,000 results in quotes
• Under 5,000 results allintitle:”quotes”
• Under 2,000 results allinurl: “quotes”
Hopefully these SEO tips have provided you with some certainty on how to go about searching for keywords to go after for your specific niche. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below! Thank you!
BONUS: allintext:”Your Keyword Phrase”
This particular operator will show you how many time’s a keywords exact phrase is being used in the text of web pages. This is a great way to find exact match phrases on specific web pages and sheds light on how many pages are doing their job with on-page optimization. May give you a slight edge if you can find a keyword that little to no pages are optimizing for on-page 🙂