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So, as most of you know there are allot of different operators. Trying to figure out what they all mean and do is tough. So in this post I am going to show and explain what allot of them do, not all but allot, the reality is there are just too many and to many alternative ways to use them.
The first thing to remember is, despite what you may have been told, all operators will work in all engines, they just might not work as well or the same.
So the operators:
No operator = finds the search criteria immediately adjacent to one another and in the same order. example C++ C# Java will only pull results were those 3 terms are in order.(this is a generalization, some engines are different, mostly resume databases like Monster etc.).
Within "X" = means to find a word within a certain radius of another word. Example C++ within 3 developed will bring results were the word C++ is found within 3 words of developed.
AND = this operator is used to denote a list of things that need to be present in a search. Example C# AND C++ AND Java, will return results that have all 3.
OR = to denote looking for more than one thing but not all things in a list. Example C# OR C++ OR Java will return result that have any of them but not necessarily all of them.
NOT = this excludes the word that follows from the search results. Example C# AND C++ NOT Java will return results that have C# and C++ but not any that also has Java. Allot of time this function will also be done by using "BUT NOT".
NEAR = find words that are within 10 words of each other. example C++ NEAR developed, will find results were the term C++ is within 10 words of developed.
Before = finds results that have words that come before another. example C++ before developed with bring back results were C++ comes before developed.(adjacency not implied).
After = finds results that have words that come after another. Example C++ after developed will bring results were C++ comes after developed. (adjacency not implied).
* = means all formats of the root word. Example recruit* will bring up recruit, recruits, recruiter, recruiters, recruiting etc.. It can also be used in words to find multiple spellings. Example behavi*r retrieves behaviour or behavior.
? = single-character wildcard for finding alternative spelling. The ? represents a single character; two ?? represents two characters and so on. Example wom?n finds woman and women.
Quotation Marks = This helps to find specific phrases by allowing you to tell the engine to search for the words as a phrase or together. Example C++ AND "Software Engineer" will pull results that include C++ and the phrase Software engineer. Without the quotation you are likely to get results that have the words software and engineer but not together.
Parentheses = This means to process the enclosed sub query first or as a whole. Example C++ AND (206 OR 253 OR 360).
=, @, "in", :(colon) = all these denote to look in a given area for a given word or phrase. Example @url=resume finds all urls with the word resume in them, so does url=resume and inrul:resume. As you can see in most cases you are combining two of these operators. Think of the @ or "in" as saying were to look, and the = and colon saying what to look for. So inurl:resume means in urls look for the word resume. You can change and combine these and get different results which make for some interesting strings. Also remember you can leave off the "in" and @ and still get results. So the strings are many and the results near infinite. Remember you can use any words after the = or colon and get some interesting results. Example url:alumni brings up urls with the word alumni in it, meaning educational institutions alumni pages in google that is 7,210,000.
Filename, filetype, url, ext, title, txt, subject, anchor(see seo and anchor text linking) = These words when used will denote were to look or what to look for, with regards to the given search criteria. Example @filename=resume will look for filenames with the word resume in them.
Cache = will look for the cached version of a page rather than the most updated version.
Author = will only include results written by a particular author.
Define = results will be of those pages that have a definition for the word that follows.
Group = results will be from groups only.
Info or id = the query info:url will present some information about the corresponding web page.
Link = The query link:url shows pages that point to that url.(also used in flip searching).
Location or region = this will yield result only for that location. Example location:England or location:UK will yield results only form England.
Movie = this will yield results about that movie. Example movie:ironman2 will yield results about Iron Man 2.
Phonebook = this will find all public phone results. Example phonebook:John Doe, NY, New York.
Site or Domain = this will limit results to those form that site or domain.
Source = this will limit your result to those from a particular source. Example source:nytimes.
Related = this will find results that are similar or related to the search criteria. Example related:football will find all results similar or related to football.
Host or domain = used for x-raying. example host:nfl.com or domain:nfl.com.
Tilda(~) = this if immediately before a key term will search for synonyms.
Plus(+) and Minus(-) = these can be used to add or subtract from results. Plus is used mainly to add or subtract common words from results. Example to+be+or+not+to+be. Of course this can be done other ways as well, such as "to be AND not AND to AND be". Minus to remove something from the results. example football-dolphins, can also be done football NOT Dolphins or Football BUT NOT Dolphins. So in other words plus(+) and minus(-) are the same as AND and NOT.
Datarange = this allows you to limit result to a given date range. The only drawback to this syntax is that it works with the Julian Calendar, not the Gregorian Calendar (the one we use). To use daterange: first go to the Julian Date Converter at the U.S. Naval Observatory (http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/JulianDate.html). Example intitle:"george bush" daterange:2452389-2452389(this would search for April 24, 2002).
AllinXXXX: = This combined with any of the operators above will provide you with all urls fitting the criteria. Example Allinanchor: C++ Developed software will find all pages with anchors that contain all 3 words.
Doc, PDF, txt, rtf, etc.. = These all specify types of documents. Example url:doc will pull up all urls with a word doc in the case of google that is 22,200,000.
You can use a country code to get results only form that country. Example url:uk will get you result from England, In google that is 199,000,000.
EDU, GOV, MIL etc = Well it url:EDU pulls up educational institutions pages, url:GOV pulls government, url:Mil pulls up military. Of course there are plenty of other domain names that are specific and worth checking such as org for organizations, net for networks, and com for commercial etc.
The key with these operators is not just the operators themselves but the words that proceed or come after. Be sure you use all possibilities. This is where a thesaurus and dictionary come in handy. Not just for the search terms themselves but for the operators too. example the term author is used above, but guess what according to the thesaurus another word for author is writer. If you use @writer= "edgar allen poe" you will get results. So as I have said in my resume writing blog posting, my SEO/Social Media blog posting and my TSO blog posting a thesaurus is your secret weapon to inventing new and different strings.
Of course there are allot more and more being discovered all the time. But here are allot of them, enjoy.