Google Search Parameters in URL
Some of Google URL search parameters are very, very useful for SEO purposes.
Google search string URL
A search term
search engine optimisation looks on the browser address bar like this -
google.co.uk/search?q= returns results from UK, a query starting with
google.com/search?q= should return somewhat geo neutral results.
Reverse engineering tells us that the order of parameters in the query does not matter really.
And a word of caution - never trust the God for sure, it changes it's mood thirteen times an hour in permutation with "that time of month".
Google search geo targeting
If we are located in UK, Google pegs to www.google.co.uk and shows results from this geographical region. To switch Google to global targeting we feed it a query
Google search query parameters
Some query operators behave differently in Google searchbox and on URL bar.
- Double quote mark (") is used as a special query term for phrase searches.
- Plus sign (+) is treated as a Boolean AND.
- Minus sign or hyphen (-) is treated as part of a query term if there is no space preceding it. A hyphen that is preceded by a space is the Exclude Query Term operator.
SEO useful parameters in Google search string, separated with ampersand
switch+Google+tturns off Google personalization of search results. Personalized results are given to all, whether signed in or not into their Google account, based on 180 days of search activity linked to a cookie in your browser.
num=(1...100)number of search results displayed per page.
To make this work, the Google Instant search has to be switched off. Search Settings > Google Instant predictions > Never show Instant results.
start=(1...990)takes to the nth search result page.
safe=(active, off)toggles off or on Google's safe search filtering.
Google search query filters
Automatic Filtering. Google uses automatic filtering to ensure the highest quality search results. Google search uses two types of automatic filters:
- Duplicate Snippet Filter - If multiple documents contain identical titles as well as the same information in their snippets in response to a query, only the most relevant document of that set is displayed in the results. This is equivalent to clicking the link that says “repeat the search with the omitted results included” that we’ll often see on the last page of SERPs. Google search parameters omitted results.
- Duplicate Directory Filter - If there are many results in a single web directory, then only the two most relevant results for that directory are displayed.
By default, both of these filters are enabled. When we check site backlinks we can disable both filters -
As far as we are interested mostly about the phrases in SEO, we take keywords and surround them with quotation marks and get by this way one single unit i.e. "word" to play with. We search for complete phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks.
google.com/search?q=search+engine+optimisation- 16,600,000 results.
google.com/search?q="search+engine+optimisation"- 11,600,000 results.
google.com/search?q="search engine optimisation"- 11,600,000 results.
google.com/search?as_epq=search+engine+optimisation- 11,600,000 results.
google.com/search?as_epq=search engine optimisation- 11,600,000 results.
google.com/search?q="optimisation engine search"- 192,000 results.
as_epq is same as
q but returns all single words in the query as an "exact phrase".
A decent way would be to use in Google search string a
+ sign in between single words, and encode the
" to a
%22 as shown here:
All parameter values must be URL-encoded. Some input parameters require that the values passed to Google search are double-URL-encoded.
Wise words from Google say: "Replace each non-alphanumeric character by its hexadecimal ASCII value, in the format of a "%" character followed by two hexadecimal digits. (Such an ASCII value may be referred to as an escape code.)"
To URL-encode a string:
- Replace space characters with a
- Replace each non-alphanumeric character by its hexadecimal ASCII value, in the format of a "%" character followed by two hexadecimal digits:
- " %22
- - %2D
- : %3A
- + %2B
However, a quick dirty search query works as fine:
google.com/search?q="search engine optimisation".
Examples of practical use of Google search string
Examples of practical use of Google search string and search parameters for SEO purposes on tuljo.com:
- How to check backlinks with Google search query.
- Check keyword competition using Google search parameters.
Other sources to read about Google search parameters elsewhere on the web:
- Google News Search parameters (The Missing Manual)
- Google Search Protocol Reference on https://developers.google.com/search-appliance/documentation/50/xml_reference returns as of November 2014: 404. That's an error. The requested URL was not found on this server. That's all we know.
- SERP URL Parameters by Stephan Spencer, Search Engine Land, 2010.
- W3C - HTML Document Representation.
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Google search string parameters, their meaning and usage. Search engine optimization and Google search URL parameters.