Posted to Leigh Carver's blog on November 5th, 2013

How to find what you're looking for on Google


There’s been quite a bit of hullabaloo about how Google is increasingly favoring paid search results. One infographic demonstrates how up to 85% of Google search results are paid ads— and Google’s recent keyword (not provided) shift has pushed a number of website owners towards AdWords, which is the only Google service that does provide keywords.

As a marketer, I find myself using advanced search all the time— specifically when I’m looking for content to curate on Google News. Much of the time, my search query is as accurate as I can make it, but over optimized websites and paid results drown out what I’m actually looking for. Other times, I’m looking for very specific content, and encounter the same issue. So what’s a workaround anyone can use?

Advanced search operands are an easy way to find the exact content that you need. For this example, I’m going to walk you through a content search for a client of mine who is interested in the medical device industry. Perhaps I’ve run a search on Google News for a query that says medical device and come across nada. What do I do next?

Use quotes to search for exact phrases

Putting a phrase in quotes (“Medical device”) will ensure that all search results turn up websites with the exact match phrase. While this isn’t all that important with a two word query, using quotes on longer or more obscure search phrases will turn up better results.

+ and -

Adding “+” to your search query requires that whatever follows the plus shows up in the search results. Likewise, adding “-“ will make sure that whatever is after the minus won’t show up. This is great if you’re like me and have to find content about medical devices, not the medical device tax.


“intext:” and “intitle:” are two alternatives for this as well. If you’re looking for an article that doesn’t have “Medical Device Tax” in the title, but can mention the word tax anywhere else, you might say “-intitle:tax”. It would work the same way for the text of the article with the “intext:” operand.


Adding “site” ensures that the site will (or won’t) show up in your search results— generally, I tend to have a plus or minus preceding the site. So, if I’m looking for only results published by the Wall Street Journal, I would get the following results.


As a note, “source” works much the same way, but you would type in source:wall_street_journal. 


The related tag will turn up sites related to the site you specify. So, if I want to find news on websites that are similar to the WSJ, I would type “”

There are a number of other useful search operands you can use, but these are the ones I most commonly need. For a more complete listing of search operands, check out GoogleGuide. I also recommend that you play around with Google’s advanced search feature— while I don’t particularly like to use it, if you’re really digging down into specifics, it has everything you need.

Have a comment? Sign in: