Google provides a set of lesser known, but highly useful, operators that can be used to refine and finely tune search results. These operators are incredibly useful when optimizing and analyzing websites for organic search. Below is a reference of the various operators, or symbols/words, that you can use in Google searches to make results more precise.

Reference as of 2017

Name Pattern Description
Exact match "match these words exactly" Adding quotes around a phrase or group of words will tell Google to force an exact-match for that text. This means that the full phrase will be matched, with all words in the same order.
Site specific site:kevinleary.net Search for results on a specific website only. Make sure you don’t add a space after the colon in “site:”, if you do this operator will not work.
Twitter handle @username Begin a search query with @ followed by a Twitter username to search for terms mentioned on twitter by that user.
Social media hashtag #hashtag Begin a search query with # followed by a popular hashtag.
Exclude specific words - Add a - before a word will exclude that word from search.
Wildcards or unknowns "largest * in the world" Add a * to place a wildcard match into a search phrase.
Combine searches (OR) "fly fishing for (trout OR salmon)" Add a OR to combine searches that match multiple words.
Past versions (cached) "cache:kevinleary.net" Add cache: followed by a domain or host to show a previously indexed, historical indexed copy, of that websites.
Search groups "(fly or spin) fishing for (trout OR salmon)" Wrap groups of search terms in parenthesis to combine and OR and AND operator. Here we’re search for anything that matching 4 phrases: fly fishing for trout, spin fishing for trout, fly fishing for salmon, and spin fishing for salmon.
Nearby terms node.js AROUND(5) performance Find pages that are within X words from one another using AROUND(X).
Specific domain ending (TLD) cancer research site:edu Search for results on a specific type of domain name only (or TLD).
Body text phrase match intext:"trout fishing" Search for a specific phrase or group of words in body text or content only.
Body text broad match allintext:trout fishing Search for a broad set of words in body text or content only.
Title tag phrase match intext:"trout fishing" Search for a specific phrase or group of words used in title tags only.
Title tag broad match allintext:trout fishing Search for a broad set of words used in title tags only.

About the Author

Kevin Leary is a web developer in Boston, MA specializing in enterprise website design and development, online marketing, and conversion optimization.