Posted in SEO, Web

Using the site: Operator on Google

As mentioned in my post Cashing-In on Long-Tail Keywords, I am going to share with you a simple little trick you can use to quickly identify if a particular keyword phrase exists on your website.

This is important if you want to rank for a keyword and need to see if your webpage contains it.

After learning this technique, you will be able to quickly find out if you are using the keywords that you’d like to be found on Google for.

To demonstrate  – and continuing on from my referring article – I am going to show you exactly how I discovered that my client, a local garage door company, was not being indexed for the search terms garage door opener repair on Google.

The site: Operator

Google offers an array of operators that assist searchers better filter the results that are returned to them from a search query.

One such operator is the site: operator.

By beginning your search query with site: followed directly by the address for a website domain, Google will return to you only pages from that domain.

For this example, I am going to use a local garage door company in Victoria, British Columbia: Tedford Overhead Doors & Gates, whose domain is tedforddoors.com.

Using the site: operator in a Google search query
Using the site: operator in a Google search query

Note: It is important that there are not spaces after the colon!

Now, the results page will only show pages that belong to the website domain tedforddoors.com.

Results returned from a search query using the site: operator
Results returned from a search query using the site: operator

Testing for Keywords

In order to identify if a website contains a certain keyword we simply add that keyword onto our existing search query while wrapping it in quotations.

A search query using the site: operator plus a quoted search term
A search query using the site: operator plus a quoted search term

By using quotation marks around the keyword phrase garage door opener repair, I am telling Google to look for only exact matches of that keyword phrase within the site specified.

If Google can’t find an exact match, it will do it’s best to return you the next best results. In my case, because tedforddoors.com does not contain the exact search phrase garage door opener repair, Google will return this:

Notice what it says at the top of the SERP:

Google will display related query matches when an exact match cannot be found
Notice the text in parentheses “without quotes”

When Google can’t find an exact match, it will perform the search query as if quotations were not used.

Exact Matches

So what happens if the site does contain the keyword? Isn’t that the whole point, to see if a website is targeting a particular keyword?

Let’s see if a competitor – grdoors.ca, in this example – is indexed for that same exact search query. I will simply swap on the domain name tedforddoors.com with grdoors.ca

A competitor with the exact keyword phrase match

Bingo! Now you see one direct result from the domain grdoors.ca as well as that exact search phrase bolded in the results description.


You can use the site: operator technique anytime you need to drill down into your own website – or a competitor’s website – to see if a particular keyword phrase exists. This can help to educate and clarify your plans when doing SEO for yourself or a client.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google Search Operators, check out a full list in the the Advanced Operator Reference at GoogleGuide.com.

Thanks for reading!

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