When it comes to search, knowing what to look for and finding what you’re looking for may seem like they go hand-in-hand, but very often to get from A to B a considerable amount of work is involved. With over 900,000,000 websites online, it’s not hard to see why. Webmasters from all over the world are constantly creating content to meet every need imaginable, and they’re all vying for the coveted #1 spot on Google.
Do you remember that time the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl? Simply searching for ‘New England Patriots win Super Bowl’ will bring a majority of results from their most recent 2015 win, however they also won in 2002 and 2004, and it’s up to you, as an internet user and searcher, to be able to quickly and accurately convey to the search engines what results you’re actually looking for. This article is going to explore four different ways to cut stress and increase productivity when searching for information online.
Use Boolean Search Operators
I’m a big fan of Boolean search operators and they are a great place to start when trying to find particular information online. Let’s look at two:
inurl:20XX – the inurl: operator will only produce results whose URL contains what proceeds the colon. Going back to my Patriots example from the introduction, a possible search query could be inurl:2004 + New England Patriots win Super Bowl. The SERP produced will contain a majority of news and blog articles written back in 2004, but could also contain newer articles claiming the 2004 Patriots team being the best team ever assembled in franchise history.
In addition to the inurl: operator, you could opt for an exact match by using quotation marks (“ ”). The quotation marks tell the search engine to only produce results that contain exactly what is typed between the quotes. For example, when trying to find information about the 2004 Patriot Super Bowl Champs, a possible search query could be: New England Patriots + “win 2004 Super Bowl”. You’ll notice here that we are looking for results that reference the New England Patriots and the result must include the phrase win 2004 Super Bowl somewhere within the landing page.
Use a Tool
There are several tools available to you to help pinpoint specific content as well. Two that I particularly like are BuzzSumo and ahrefs. Albeit having one major drawback in that the results will not exceed one year, I think the benefits associated with BuzzSumo more than make up for this. For starters, the restricted/free offerings from the product are extremely useful, which means there’s a good chance you may never have to upgrade to a paid version.
With BuzzSumo you are able to enter in your search terms and it will return the most socially shared content associated with that query. In the top left of the interface you have the ability to filter your results by either: 24 Hours, Past Week, Past Month, Past 6 Months, Past Year. Given these filters, this tool is great for newer content, however if you need to really dig back into the archives of the internet this might not be your best choice. Conversely, in the bottom left of the interface you’re given the filters to sort your content by either: Articles, Infographics, Guest Posts, Giveaways, Interviews, and Videos. Given this, depending on your campaign or goals, BuzzSumo may be perfect for you. Take for example the ability to filter by infographic: if you’re looking to begin a link building campaign by means of an infographic, BuzzSumo can quickly tell you if your idea or topic has been covered recently and to what success. If you’re looking to do a “Spring Cleaning Checklist” you’ll quickly learn that you have a potentially successful campaign in the works.
Similar to BuzzSumo is ahrefs Content Explorer. This is actually a relatively new offering from the ahrefs suite, and it has a near identical look to BuzzSumo. A few comparative notes: ahrefs requires a paid subscription plan and it does not allow you to filter content by type, but it does return results older than a year with a date field clearly visible within its results.
Use Google SERP Filters
Google has an often-overlooked ability to actually filter your results right within the SERP. To do this, at the top of your SERP you’ll notice the options to filter by Web (default), Videos, Images, News, Shopping, More, and Search tools. Click on ‘Search tools’ and you’ll reveal 3 new search filters. The first filter is the time filter, and in addition to the preset filters of past hour, day, week, month, and year, you also have the ability to filter results by a custom date range. The ‘All results’ drop down allows you to filter by ‘Not yet visited’ which is a great choice when prospecting for new publications and outlets. The last filter is for location, which comes in handy when researching local SEO.
Use a Different Search Engine
Depending on what you’re looking for, it might be advisable to use a search engine other than Google, and I’m not talking about Bing or Yahoo. Before you call blasphemy, I’d like to point out the Merriam-Webster dictionary has defined a search engine as “computer software used to search data (as text or a database) for specified information”. Based on this definition, there are a number of other platforms that can meet your needs. Let’s take a look at a few:
Depending on your campaign goals, if you’re looking for social influencers, Followerwonk might be the right engine for you. This tool will search Twitter profiles for the query of your choice and list the most influential users based on followers and tweets. Similar services include Twellow and Klout.
If you’re looking for bloggers, Google is still the search King. With the relaunch of Technorati in mid-2014, you are no longer able to search for blogs and similar publications through their platform. Luckily, Google still offers their blog search engine which specifically produces SERPs full of blogs.
Finally, if you’re looking to outreach to news outlets and members of the media, there are a couple of public relations-type databases available to you, full of industry contacts and their up-to-date contact information. Two of the industry leaders are Meltwater and Cision. Albeit somewhat expensive, these services are great because they allow you to search by person, outlet, or niche.
Author Bio: Brett Bastello is a content marketer and white-hat link builder at Inseev Interactive, a digital marketing company located in sunny San Diego. He thinks dogs are better than cats and his favorite color is purple.