Google's pretty good at surfacing relevant content based on your search query. But sometimes you need something so specific that a general keyword phrase doesn't really do it for you, especially if you're a marketer on the hunt for a particular piece of content.
That's where a site search comes in handy.
A site search is performed on a search engine and allows you to search one domain – not the entire internet – for a term.
We'll talk more about why site searches are helpful and how to perform them in the sections below.
How to Search Within a Site Using Google
- Go to Google.com.
- In the search box, enter site:www.website.com with your search term.
- Refine your search.
How to Google Search Within a Website using Site Search
1. Go to Google.com.
2. In the search box, enter site:www.website.com with your search term.
Make sure you consider the domain and subdomain when performing a site search. For instance, if I search the term "SEO" on www.hubspot.com and www.blog.hubspot.com/marketing, I'll get two different sets of results.
The first will show results that include all the subdomains while the latter will only show results pertaining to the blog subdomain.
The same goes for the path: www.hubspot.com/about will provide different results than www.hubspot.com/pricing.
With this in mind, it's important to know where you're looking for your search term.
3. Refine your search.
For instance, in Step 2, I searched our blog for a broad topic: SEO. Various subtopics came up, ranging from SEO blogging strategies to tips from SEO experts.
From there, I can filter my results by topic or even date.
In the example below, I added "2021" to my search time to refine my results and get more recent data.
Site Search Best Practices
When it comes to a site search, a good rule of thumb is to start wide and narrow down little by little.
This will make it easier to find what you're looking for and avoid narrowing down too early. For instance, say you want to search a competitor's site for SEO-related content.
Start by looking up SEO to see the range of subtopics they cover. From there, you can dive into each subtopic and examine which ones they cover more and which ones they don't cover much.
This method will help you find ideas for your own content and get competitive on the SERP.
Now, say you're on the opposite end – you have a website and want to make site searches easier for your visitors.
In ecommerce in particular, site searches are very important, as they help consumers find the products they're interested in.
In this case, here are a few tips:
- Categorize your content on the backend to make search results more accurate.
- Use autocomplete and autocorrect to assist visitors when typing into the search box.
- If the query yields no results, offer related queries the user may be interested in or direct them to elsewhere.
- Optimize the terms on your site to reflect the language of your target consumers. For instance, say you sell baby items and your core audience resides in the UK, your website would likely use the term "cot" instead of "crib."
How Site:Search Can Make Your Life Easier as a Marketer
There are many use cases for this tool, but here are the most common ones.
- Search for data – I like to use data to support and strengthen my content. With a site search, I can quickly find a stat I had read in an article weeks or months earlier. I can perform a search on our own blog or other sites I visit, like eMarketer, for instance.
- Search for new topic ideas – Let's say you want to pitch an article idea and verify that your angle hasn't been covered before on your site. You can do a site search and read all the articles relating to the topic. If you're a freelance writer, you can also take this approach before you pitch a story to a publisher to make sure it's original and aligns with their content strategy.
- Surface related content to link to – If you want to link to a piece of content within your own content, a 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 – Reviewing your competitors' content is plays a big role in developing your content strategy. A site search will allow you to see how your competitors are covering specific topics, from the angle to the length and use of media.