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Types Of Google Search Operators & How To Properly Use Them

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Google searches should be easy, but sorting through the thousands of web pages in the modern age can be an exhausting endeavor.

Do you have trouble navigating through Google and finding exactly what you need?

You’re not alone!

Americans spend almost 13 minutes searching through each Google visit, and over 57 billion hours are on Google each year.

Google search operators are a helpful tool that can prevent frustration during web searches.

These powerful operators can help you find what you’re searching for by letting you specify site domains, prices, file formats, and more.

Let’s check them out!

What Are Google Search Operators?

In the most basic terms, Google search operators are phrases and characters you type into the search bar.

Google will automatically sift through the searches according to what the operator tells it.

They can help you find specific phrases and file types or search for exact websites.

With Google search operators, you won’t have to spend time manually checking sources and you can efficiently eliminate results you don’t want.

Why Use Google Search Operators?

Google search operators are invaluable when you often spend time searching through online results.

Becoming familiar with operators allows you to eliminate cluttered pages and find what you want efficiently.

Find More Targeted Results

First, many Google search operators allow you to target your search precisely.

They can help you understand semantic search results, which causes Google to pull up words and terms related to your search instead of the exact words you type.

Targeting your search can save time by ensuring you find results that fit the source, file format, or wording you need.

Research More Efficiently

Another function of Google search operators is to allow you to research easier.

Whether you realize it or not, Google search snippets impact your searches by prioritizing sources with catchy descriptions.

This feature can help boost site traffic, but it isn’t always ideal for researchers.

Google search operators let you find reliable sources by narrowing results by site domains and finding government, organization, or educational resources.

Google Search Operators List

Below is an extended list of Google search operators you can use to refine your internet searches.


If you type a URL into a web search bar with the operator “cache:” in front, Google will show you cached versions of web pages.

You can use cached webpages to see sites that no longer exist or content that the site has updated or removed.


Using the Google search operator “intext:” lets you find web pages with specific phrases in the text.

For example, typing “intext:cats” will ensure that the content has the word cats somewhere in the text.


Like the operator above, “allintext:” allows you to narrow your results to include text with exact phrases.

An operator such as “allintext: hairless cats” will only show pages with this entire phrase, instead of one word.


Some Google search operators are specific to the old Google blogs.

You can search using “inposttitle:” to look for posts with certain words or phrases in the title.


One of the most significant operators for research is “site:” which can let you specify the sources for your search.

You can look for results from specific websites or limit by domains, like “site:.gov.”

This can help you find only reputable, scholarly sources.


The Google search operator “allintitle:” is a generic way to search all of Google for posts with specific, multi-word phrases in the title.


With the operator “intitle:” you can sift through headlines and find posts with precise words in the page title.

Unlike “allintitle:” full phrases won’t process; only singular words.


If you want a result with an exact phrase in the URL, you can use the Google search operator “allinurl:” to find one.


“Inurl:” will find specific words in website URLs to narrow your search.

It will search for whatever term you place directly next to the operator.


Anchor text is when one webpage has a link to another attached to the writing.

You can find all the pages with links to them with exact words using the “inanchor:” Google search operator.


If you’re curious about which web pages have links with long phrases in the anchor text, you can search using an “allinanchor:” operator.


Sometimes you might look for a particular file format, like an image or PDF.

Typing in “filetype:” followed by the format abbreviation will find those sources.


The “AROUND()” operator is a unique option that lets you specify how many words should be between two terms.

For instance, typing “Apples AROUND(3) season” will show results with the words apple and season around three words from each other.


You can try the “OR” Google search operator if you’re looking for two different terms simultaneously.

Searching “Dogs OR cats” will show you pages about either or both.


An easy way to narrow your search is to put your term in quotation marks.

This operator finds pages with the exact phrase you’re looking for by enclosing them in double quotations.


If you want to exclude a single word from your search, you can use the minus symbol as a Google search operator.

One example would be searching for “animal training -dogs” to find content that excludes dogs, but is still about animal training.


To add to your Google search term, you can try using the “ADD” operator to find content related to both phrases.


The wildcard Google search operator can help you fill in the blanks if you only know some generic details for your research.

Typing in the asterisk symbol within a phrase will show results with any word or phrase replacing the asterisk between your terms.


Unfortunately, the “info:” operator may no longer work.

It once would show you similar pages and related data information about a website, but you may have to rely on Google’s automated suggestions feature for this information.


If you’re interested in a topic or trying to find similar websites related to a certain one you know, the “related:” Google search operator may help.

What Kinds of Files Do Google Search Operators Support?

The “filetype:” Google search operator allows you to refine your search by finding exact file formats.

Below is a list of file formats you can find through Google using their ending abbreviations.

Remember to exercise caution with downloading files from the internet.

  • .pdf: PDF files are a common way to digitize documents and other large files, and you can find them with the “filetype:.pdf” Google search operator.
  • .ps: If you’re looking for vector art files, you might find refining your searches for PostScript files helpful.
  • .kml: Researchers may enjoy finding Keyhole Markup Language files that contain geographic data with this Google search operator.
  • .kmz: Keyhole Markup Language files are large and contain information about maps that users can zip together for convenience with this file type.
  • .gpx: Another option for people searching for geographic information is the Google search operator “filetype:.gpx,” which will show GPS Exchange Format files.
  • .hwp: Luckily, the Google search operator for file type can find you diverse resources, like these word documents from the Hangul Word Processor.
  • .xsl: These file types are spreadsheets someone has exported and put into a format that more programs can open.
  • .xslx: If you want Excel-specific spreadsheets, the Google search operator paired with this file format will help you find Excel options.
  • .doc: The specific “.doc” file extension is for text documents originating from Microsoft Word.
  • .docx: When you use the Google search operator “filetype:.docx,” it will include all text documents. These results include files that may have compression.
  • .ppt: Usually, this file format indicates projects from Microsoft PowerPoint without any compression.
  • .pptx: Sometimes it can help to widen your search for slideshow files by using the Google search operator “filetype:.pptx” for slides from other programs.
  • .odp: Another option for finding presentation files from different sources, the “.odp” file extension, can show you slideshows in your native platform.
  • .odt: The “.odt” file is an option to find text documents, as it’s the format for OpenOffice document files.
  • .ods: Another file type from OpenOffice, you can use this term with the Google search operator to find spreadsheets.
  • .rtf: Sometimes generic word processing programs will create Rich Text Format files, which Google search supports.
  • .svg: Vector graphics are crucial for designs, and you can find vector files easily by searching for this extension.
  • .txt: Plain text documents are common online because they are simple, and you can find examples of these text files with this Google search operator term.
  • .text: The “.text” is an alternative file extension for plain text documents.
  • .tex: Occasionally, you might want to find specific books or other typeset projects. You can use the Google search operator “filetype:.tex” to find LaTeX’s work.
  • .wml: The “.wml” file extension can find web pages for mobile devices, similar to HTML documents.
  • .wap: You can exclusively look for images by combining this term with the Google search operator.
  • .xml: Finally, the “.xml” file type is the computer language for spreadsheets. This search term will help you narrow your results to data documents.

How To Use Google Search Operators

Now that you’re familiar with Google search operators, you may be eager to try them.

Here’s a handy step-by-step guide for searching with the operators.

  1. Consider the topic you’d like to research.
  2. Type in your search terms.
  3. Exclude any unnecessary phrases, be specific.
  4. Type the Google search operator in with your search.
  5. Assess the Google results.
  6. Consider adding other Google search operators to refine further. For instance, if you want to research a topic like freelance taxes, you might start with the search “Freelance taxes site:.gov” to find government resources and then search for a specific phrase within those resources.

There are a few more helpful tips about Google search operators to ensure success.

First, don’t include spaces between the operator and your search term.

For instance, “site:.gov” will work, but “site: .gov” will not.

Most operators only search for the term placed directly next to it, not the entire phrase.

Keep this in mind and put your critical words in order accordingly.

It’s worth noting that Google will ignore any punctuation that isn’t a part of a recognized Google search operator.

Trying to find exact matches to quotations with complicated punctuation may throw off the results rather than help.

Finally, remember that you can always search for entire exact phrases by including them in quotation marks.

This is a simple, but effective way to search for specific phrases if you don’t remember whether they’re in a title, the text, or if they are a specific file type.

How To Combine Google Search Operators

Sometimes you might still be struggling to find the exact resource you want.

Luckily, you can combine multiple Google search operators to refine any search even further.

To combine operators, first, you should consider each operator as a separate building block.

You can stack them together, but complete each operator first.

An example would be searching for a PDF about dog training, excluding cats.

You would format these operators separately as:


Once you have your two formats, you can add them together in your Google search bar.

This search would then become “Dog training filetype:.pdf -cats” if you combine the operators.

You should ensure that each operator is complete and separated with a space for the best results.

Wrapping Up

Google search operators are tools that make internet searches easy.

The computer uses symbols and phrases to sift the results for you.

Even if a search operator fails initially, you can stack them to narrow your search further.

You can stop wasting unnecessary time and enjoy researching more efficiently using some of these powerful Google search operators.

Have some more questions you can’t find answers to, even with Google search operators?

Let us know in the comments!

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