Google Advanced Search Operators for Competitive Content Research

Learn how to use advanced Google search operators and reverse-engineer your competitors' content strategy.

The Google advanced search operators are a set of special query parameters that Google supports for its searches. These are powerful tools that can be used to more precisely target, filter, and refine your Google searches. When using Google advanced search operators, make sure you use quotes around any phrases in order to properly construct the parameters. For further better understanding, you can read our blog on Google Search Operators, as well.

And If you're looking for the ultimate thrill, there's nothing like finishing an intense keyword research project and then reaching a point of panic where it seems that opportunities are all around. With no one organizing principle to follow, your list of keywords becomes endless tasks with little direction in sight. It is essential at this stage not only to know what competitors rank on but also how they do so by breaking down their content into manageable bits and analyzing those parts as well as your own work against them - creating a blueprint which will provide structure through creativity while ensuring success.

We will dig down using Google Advanced Search operators along with just one keyword; “Keyword Research”, for each type.

Find Best Content by using site:

By adding the [site:] operator to your search query, you can only find content on your own site that has been optimized for those keywords. This is useful when people are searching through sites with a lot of pages or if their target phrases are made up of common words.

These are the best matches on the query. Using site: operator helps you to narrow your research and find out the best possible result. Not only can you see what content you have published, but you can always use this operator to find out what your competitors have on your targeting keyword.

Find all competing pages by using -site:

You don't have to start from scratch when you want a fresh perspective on what your competition is doing. For starters, use the negative search operator [-site:].

I like to do the same thing and begin my competitive research by using negative match [– site:] so that I can see who's ranking without our own website in the way.

Explore key competitors by using site: OR site:

The OR operator can be used to target a specific group of competitors when put together with search operator “site:”, and this is different from targeting one competitor at a time.OR is a versatile operator, just as site: can be used for multiple purposes. With OR you are able to not only target specific competitors but also rank them against each other in order to see your ranking among the competition.

This is the following result I got by using this search operator;

Target any specific folder by using inurl:

When you are researching and working with large websites with many sub-folders in it, this Google Advanced Search Operator comes in handy. You can simply use inurl: or a “/” in between the site and the sub-folder you want to explore. Like in BrandOverflow we have blog as a sub-folder and all our blogs are uploaded here, so if you are searching for any blog, simply enter “Any Keyword” site:brandoverflow.com inurl:blog or “Any Keyword” site:brandoverflow.com/blog.

This is the result that you will get on entering the above query. Simply, you will get any blog written with keyword research as a primary or secondary keyword, listed on SERPs.

The issue with long and targeted phrases is that you may miss relevant or related content. I always do a thorough job of my initial keyword research, but it’s still worth checking for gaps in the process. One approach to this problem is to search your main phrase on Google while excluding exact matches from the query until you find what's missing.

This search operator helps you to find all the related keywords to your primary keywords that you did not opt for in your initial keyword research, but however, google is ranking many of your competitors for these related keywords, so you might want to use some of these in your content as well.

Targeting a phrase in the body of content with intext: and then excluding results that have the exact-match phrase in their title by using -intitle: is another handy trick which allows you to search for any content that has content based on your targeted keyword. But excluding that same keyword from the title helps to remove any loophole, because not everybody has used the whole keyword in the title. This can turn up some interesting side discussions or sub-topics related to your main topic.

Find pages by dates by using year..year

Looking for a specific date? You can easily find it on Google by typing [date range] followed by the four-digit year. For example, if you want to search your history from 2006 and forward, simply type "[2006..]" before searching. Or if you find a content about a specific keyword for a specific range of year simply put the keyword and date range together, as;

Find top X lists by using intitle:”#..#”

What if you were working on a top X list about keyword research, but wanted to make sure there wasn't too much competition for the 5-8 item range that seems ideal? Using intitle: combined with the [..] operator in your search might get something like this:

One of the most powerful things about Google is that it's so easy to use. In fact, you can get really creative with your searches! If you're a little bored and want something fun to do on the internet, try experimenting with different google operators combos until you find one that suits your fancy (but don't forget, some combinations may not work and may give silly results).

Always remember, nothing would give you your desired results automatically, but you should first know how to use it properly in order to get appropriate and desired results. Same goes with Google operators as well, You should know what to expect out of each advanced operator and more so, any search operator combination.


Hope this informative blog will help you. If you have any query related to this blog and want to know further or discuss it, feel free to reach me out at [email protected] or visit Brand Overflow blogs to know more.