Advanced Search Operators and SEO

In this article we’ll share with you a couple of cool hacks to use in search engine optimization called advanced search engine operators. To use this article you must already be aware of your core keywords (the main keywords for which you’re trying to rank). If you’re not sure which keywords you want to target, use the Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker for some research.

Using Advanced Search Operators – Intitle, Inurl, Inanchor

First, go ahead and open or in a new window. Just follow the steps in the article and you’ll learn some new, helpful tricks. Use both to compare their usefulness.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Google doesn’t share much data with SEOs, while Yahoo is more open. Google is well aware that mainly SEOs use the commands described below, so it limits results on purpose. Take this information with a grain of salt.

Intitle: Command


intitle:”keyword phrase”

With this command, you will only see search results with your keyword phrase in title. The title tag is a crucial SEO element, and all pages targeted to a particular key phrase have targeted keywords in the title tag. With this command you can estimate the approximate number of competitors fighting over a specific keyword. Search both Google and Yahoo to get an average number.

As an example, a regular Google search for mortgage broker gives 7,440,000 results. A search with intitle:"mortgage broker" gives 251,000 results, which is a better representation of your competitors.

Search in Yahoo with this command gives 1,250,000 results. Yahoo’s results tend to be three to five times bigger than Google’s.

Inurl: Command


This command shows websites that have your keyword phrase in their URL. The keyword may be located in the domain name, as with, or in the filename (URL), as with www.example/

For example, if you search with inurl:"mortgage broker" you’ll see 102,000 results for sites that have “mortgage broker” in their URL. Chances are, the sites on the first three pages are your competitors.

Yahoo shows 408,000 results.

Inanchor: Command


inanchor:”keyword phrase”

inanchor:keyword1 inanchor:keyword2 inanchor:keyword3

With this command you can see websites that have a specific keyword in anchor text pointing to the domain. Usually this means that the site did link building with this keyword phrase. Google shows 7,020,000 results for inanchor:mortgage inanchor:broker, which is not likely to be a real number, while a search for “mortgage broker” gives 7,450,000 results. As mentioned above, Google distorts this data.

Yahoo is a little bit better when it comes to the inanchor command. Its index shows 118,000,000 for “mortgage broker” and 982,000 results for inanchor:mortgage inanchor:broker, which is a more accurate. You’ll notice that Google’s search count is a lot smaller than Yahoo’s, so don’t trust those numbers too much.

The inanchor command is very important, but unfortunately search engines don’t share this information with SEOs for obvious reasons. Linkscape and Majestic SEO keep their own indexes of the web and allow SEOs to see the anchor text of links. You need to pay for both, but it’s worth it.

Also, keep in mind that Google is now putting a lot of weight on domain trust, rather than anchor text. Anchor text is still an important factor, but domain trust is just as important.

{mospagebreak title=Combining Intitle and Inanchor Commands}

intitle:keyword inanchor:keyword

By combining two commands you can get results that list real SEO savvy competitors. When you use this command you will see results that have your keywords both in the page title and as anchor text for incoming links. . Again, take the information with a grain of salt and use both Google and Yahoo. Let’s see the results.


intitle:mortgage intitle:broker inanchor:mortgage inanchor:broker – Google shows 276,000 results. Among these results you can see a good number of sites specifically optimized for the term.


intitle:mortgage intitle:broker inanchor:mortgage inanchor:broker – Yahoo shows 168,000 results and gives many of the same sites as Google for this command. If the same site shows up on both search engines, it’s another indication that the owner optimized for this keyword.

The down side is that this method does not consider domain power. Many old corporate sites don’t have many anchor-rich links, but have many authoritative old links that carry them to the top regardless of anchors.

Site: Command

With this command you can learn how many of your pages the search engine knows about. It’s good for checking out competitor pages and analyzing their size. If your competition has 100,000+ pages and you boast 500 pages, it’s going to be pretty tough competing with them.

Check out Google gives 298,000 results. The same search on Yahoo redirects to Yahoo Site Explorer, which is another useful tool in SEO analysis. We’ll cover it in this article a bit later. The Yahoo site:command gives 1,050,232 results.

The site command is also used for brand searches on Google. Check out the results for Wikipedia. Below the site links you can find another search box, which redirects to “site:keyword”


This command shows the last date since the search engine spidered a page. NOT indexed it, but spidered it, meaning it sent a crawler and got a copy. This doesn’t mean that it has the latest version of the page in the index (the part you can search with keywords).

By checking out the cache date you can track how often Google sends spiders to the site. The more authoritative the site is, the more often Google sends a spider to it. The less authoritative a site, the less often it gets spidered.

This information helps in link building. For example, if you’re about to buy a link from a website, check how often that site gets spidered. If the time frame is once in 1.5 months, chances are Google does not consider this site an important one. If on the other hand the time span is a few days, then the site is pretty authoritative.

NOTE: Old pages may be spidered. Check domain vs. page cache dates.


This command is supposed to show links pointing to a site, but it’s outright distorted on Google, so don’t put any weight on Google’s results. Yahoo redirects to Yahoo Site Explorer, which is the next topic of this article.

{mospagebreak title=Yahoo Site Explorer}

Yahoo is much more open about sharing link data with SEOs. You’ll hear that many SEOs say that you cannot compare link data from Yahoo to Google. Unfortunately, Google is like a locked chest when it comes to this information, so Yahoo is all we have (though as mentioned before, there are also third party options such as Linkscape and Majestic SEO).

  • Yahoo Site Explorer

Type in (or any other address). Yahoo will show you the pages of which it’s aware. The command on Yahoo search is

The “inlinks” tab shows a good chunk of the links of which Yahoo is aware. It doesn’t show ALL links, however, but it shows enough to give you a reasonable idea. By default, site explorer shows internal and external links to the URL. You can limit results by filtering out the internal links and keeping only the external ones. Keep in mind that internal links pass page rank in the same manner as external links.

Try the recent SEO Chat article and filter results to “except from this domain.” You’ll see a number of outside links of which Yahoo is aware. As you browse through the list, you’ll see many crappy and spammy links. Those usually don’t count on Google; it is for this reason that SEOs criticize Yahoo Site Explorer.

Domain Level

To see how many links point to a domain, set the following filters: “except from this domain” and “entire site.” Currently Yahoo shows 570,081 inlinks for

{mospagebreak title=Using Date Indicators}

If you go to Google’s advanced search you can set search results to specific discovery dates (click on Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more). Discovery date can help you identify the rate at which a web page is indexed. Index date and crawl rate are different. Crawling is the process of getting copy of the page, while indexing is concerned with the processing and ranking of pages. Indexing is a lot more  complex than crawling, and takes more time.

You can set time filters in advanced search options and monitor how often site pages get indexed. If the indexing rate is once in a few days, then the site is deemed important by Google, and getting a link from it is worth the money and/or effort.

Also, please keep in mind that toolbar page rank is not real, so SEOs use the cache date and indexing rate to determine the value of pages.

Yahoo Edu and Gov Search

  • Yahoo advanced web search

Yahoo doesn’t have many date range options, but it has a neat Site/Domain filter. You can filter by .com, .edu, .gov and .org domains. Of most interest are the .edu and .gov domains.

The down side is that it doesn’t work well in countries other than the US. For example, Yahoo’s Canada version only gives .ca, .com, .net, and .org filters. The Canadian government domains use, and many universities are camping at .ca.

To find government and university domains in Canada (or other countries), use the commands described above. For example, intitle”Canada government” or something similar.

I hope this was helpful. Check the articles in the bibliography for more useful search engine optimization commands.