Yes, I know – you might think everyone knows how to do a search on Google. I mean it is now a noun (Look it up on Google) and a verb (just Google it). And it may surprise some of my younger friends to know that Google didn’t exist until 1998 – yes less than 20 years ago. The Internet came FIRST and then Google – some I know, think it was the other way around or at the same time.
First there was the internet. Then there was AOL (anyone remember logging on to the internet using one of the myriad of CD’s they used to send to everyone), and then there was Yahoo. And both of those had a little search box and then hundreds of links you might want to click (but probably didn’t because no-one trusted the internet back then). I started in IT recruitment 2 years before Google and I started the first internet recruitment desk – even though they were few candidates and even fewer companies who actually had any internet presence or knowledge.
But in the years since – everyone knows Google and everyone uses it – right? Well, yes. But they don’t always know how to find exactly what they are looking for.
And that’s quite important – especially as a business owner. You really need to know how to find info on what your competitors are doing and what YOUR website is doing. And with all due respect to the many very good web and SEO companies out there – it is all still a bit of a dark art, and seems a bit technical to most people.
So, I thought today I would tech you a few simple tricks to get more out of your Googling! I am going to explain a bit about Google’s “Search Operators”. No – they are not people sitting at the end of the line operating Google searches. In simple English – they are special characters you can use to make your searches better.
- Quotation Marks. This is one of the most powerful things you can use on Google. For example, if you put in the term …business coaching in Manchester… you get a return of 2.180,000 results. (even worse – drop the word coaching – and you get 15 million). But put a quotation mark around the phrase and you get 5.600 or so result. See what happened there? Annoyingly the top result is from londoncoachinggroup.com! Someone did their SEO well – they have the words as the Page Title, the Meta description and the H1 tag amongst other things. Don’t worry about the jargon – it just means the bits you can see on the page and the bits that Google sees, both say “business coaching in Manchester” at the appropriate place and so even though they are based in London, Google brings them up before Manchester based coaching businesses.
- The Minus Operator. The only way to avoid the above is to put in “business coaching in Manchester” -London. (minus sign and no gap). This then brings you up 1,740 results that do NOT mention the word London.
- The * or Wildcard Operator. This is where you want Google to suggest stuff, and fill in the blanks. Works when inside quotation marks. So for example, “10 * of social media *”, brings back all sorts of results from ’10 benefits of social media marketing’ to ’10 most irritating social media update’ and “10 social media tips for actors”. This can be very useful when looking to create original / unique content. There is no point creating a blog called “10 Benefits Of Social Media For Business” when Hootsuite are at the number 1 position for that, and when you can create “10 Benefits of Social Media for Mancunians” and be the only blog with that title. Of course, you also need to know that people are looking for that search string – which is a whole other subject.
- The | ‘or’ Operator. By using | Google will bring back one or other search term. So “Social Media Marketing”|”Social Media Management” should bring you back results about one or the other not both.
- Site: Operator. This is an extremely useful operator for a couple of different reasons. Firstly – imagine you read an article on the guardian website about the queen and you wanted to find it again. Rather than going to the site and scrolling through you could enter site:theguardian.com/ “Queen” and it would bring up everything about the Queen that they have published. It also brings up stuff about the band ‘Queen’ and so you might want to be more specific. You could use this to see if your competitor has published an article on a specific subject for example.
There is another super useful application for the site: Operator for your own website – and if you want to know what that is comment below or message me and I will be happy to share.
There are a whole heap of other things you can do in Google – and great SEO research should be a part of your online and social media strategy. If your social media agency isn’t doing SEO research, they should at least be asking you if your web developer did any for you.
If they didn’t then – why not? How can your website bring you the traffic you want if no SEO research was done. How can your social media company drive traffic if they don’t know what your keywords are or should be?
Well, that’s a rant for another day – meanwhile – if you have any questions about social media – I am going to do a Facebook Live on Tuesday 19th December from our Strategy Social Media Page – which will be a Q & A on any social media questions you have. It will be a quick fire 20 minute session – free of course. But if you want to make sure you get your question answered before the 20 minutes runs out, then you can email it to me in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.