Google's pretty good at surfacing relevant content based on your search query. But sometimes you need something so insanely specific that a general keyword phrase doesn't really do it for you, especially for marketers on the hunt for a specific piece of content. Enter the Google site:search. This allows you to search just one domain -- not the entire internet -- for a particular search term.
So, for instance, if you wanted to see what kind of content HubSpot, and only HubSpot, had on marketing automation, doing a site:search would limit the results to only HubSpot's marketing automation content.
I've used this for a ton of stuff in the past -- actually, as a professional content creator, I can honestly say I use it every day. Here's how to do it, as well as some use cases I've found to be super helpful that make me more efficient.
How to Search Within a Site Using Google
- Go to Google.com.
- Enter site:www.website.com search term into the search box.
- Refine your search.
How to Google Search Within a Website using Site:Search
Step 1: Go to Google.com. Duh.
Step 2: Enter site:www.website.com search term into the search box.*
*Pay attention to the subdomain (the letters that precede a domain name, like www., blog., or info.) you enter. Which subdomain you enter, or even choosing not to enter one at all, will change your results.
For example, when I try to conduct a site:search for all the mentions of marketing automation on hubspot.com, I get way more results (about 9,500) when I enter site:hubspot.com marketing automation than I do if I enter site:www.hubspot.com marketing automation (about 2,300). Why? Because the former is bringing up results for all the subdomains on hubspot.com. That means it returns results for mentions of marketing automation on, say, blog.hubspot.com, too.
Entering site:www.hubspot.com marketing automation, however, returns results for only mentions of marketing automation on the www. subdomain. So the lesson here is, be specific about what domain and subdomain you want to search.
Step 3: Refine your search.
For instance, in Step 2 when I searched our blog for a Facebook stat, some results from a long time ago -- like 2010 -- came up. I could filter for only the most recent stats by refining my search to site:blog.hubspot.com facebook stat 2012.
How Site:Search Can Make Your Life Easier as a Marketer
There's a bunch of use cases for this little search efficiency trick, but here are the ones I use all the time when I'm wearing my marketer hat.
- Search for data. I like to use data to strengthen my content, and it's really easy to do a site:search on the HubSpot blog for a stat I remember using in the past -- but can't totally remember where. It also helps me find data on another blog or website that I know frequently publishes that type of content, like eMarketer, for instance.
- Search for topics. If you're looking to create an original piece of content on your site or another site, it helps to pitch something original that hasn't been covered a million times over already. So if I wanted to publish a guest post on, say, Connection Model, and I wanted to write about email marketing, I could do a site:search like site:www.connectionmodel.com email marketing to check out what they've already covered on the topic, so my post can be original yet still aligned with their content strategy.
- Surface content to link to. If you want to link to a piece of content about a specific subject matter within your own content, the site:search is a great way to resurface it ... or even find some new pieces of content you didn't know existed.
- Conduct competitive analysis. Part of a competitive content analysis -- which is critical for defining your content strategy and positioning yourself appropriately in your space -- is to determine what other people are writing about. Use the site:search function to get an idea of what subjects each of your competitors are writing about, and at what volume.
Do you use site:search to help you find information faster? Want some more quick and dirty tips about search engines and SEO? Take our free SEO course. to share that might make your marketing friends a little more efficient?
Image credit: shaymus22