Programming Blog

Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

How to Use Google Search to Help With SEO.

By: Jeremy Morgan

A key to understanding Google is using it from a searcher’s point of view. There is no doubt you use Google search to find information about SEO and other things, but you can also use it to find out a lot of things about how Google views your site.

In this article I’ll show you a few quick tips you can use to find out things about your site’s ranking, look for duplicate content and more.

Find out how many of your pages are in Google

Using a simple Google search you can find out how many of your pages are spidered by Google.

By searching your site in this way, you can find out how many pages Google has spidered, plus you can see valuable information about what your results page might look like.

Use Google Search To help with SEO

This is a good way to see how Google looks at your pages. Beware of the fact that you will have different pages spidered at different datacenters, so this is not always an accurate number. It can vary depending on which datacenter you happen to hit.

Check for duplicate content.

There are several ways to check and see if you have duplicate content. One sure way is by taking a random sentence from your site that you know is unique, and search for it in quotes. Using quotes will make it an “exact search”.

Again you will want to use the site: function, but this time put the phrase in you want to look for. “Stumbleupon is a great tool to bring new people to your site, and works great for branding.”

If you see more than one page come up, congratulations you have duplicate content! It happens to all of us, myself included. This is a good way to weed out this issue.

Hint: It’s also a great way to search for other websites using your content without your permission. Do a search for a unique phrase on your site in quotes and see if anyone else has stolen your content. If so you can file a DMCA notice with Google and get it removed from the index. Don’t let a copyright thief use your work and get you a duplicate content penalty as well! 

Another way to check for duplicate content is with the inurl: function: inurl:”sessionid”

This is a good way to see if you have session id issues that are common for a lot of software products you might be using. Also you can search for: inurl:”id”

and see if you have IDs being used. This is helpful if you’re using permalinks (like me) or another url rewriter to build your URLs and you want to make sure it’s working.

Use robots.txt to weed out some of these duplicate pages when you find them.

Another great function is intitle: this will search the titles of your pages, again if you have two pages with the same title, it may be duplicated content. intitle:”How to Panda Proof Your Website”

See if someone is mentioning you or your website. 

Vanity searches are great, but also a good way to find out if someone is linking to you. Search for your name or website name in quotes, and remove your own website from the results. You can do that like so:

again using the quotes can help as well when searching your own name:

“Jeremy Morgan”

This is probably one of the most accurate ways to see what kind of buzz you’re generating (or not generating) on Google.

Find out who is linking to you

I know I’ll get a few tomatoes thrown at me and a few emails for this, but there is a command to see who is linking to you on Google. The bad news is that it’s terribly inaccurate. But if you’re really curious:

this will show you some of the people who are linking to your site. If you want a more accurate picture, try using Google Webmaster Tools. This won’t show you all sites linking to you either, but it will show you more than the link: function will.

Also, you can check out other sites like Metacrawler and Altavista who will show you a better picture of who is linking to your site, and even show you individual pages.

Check your Google Cache

Checking out what Google has cached on your page is useful because you can tell when they last spidered your site, and it also gives you a more accurate picture of what Google sees when it visits your site. To do this simply type:

This shows you the currently cached site, and if you click on “text only” you can get a better idea of what your text looks like to a search engine. There is a lot to be gleaned from this.

Survey The Competition

Ok this one is pretty obvious, but you can also use Google to check out your competition. Not only can you search for terms you are trying to get good rankings for, but you can use the tools above to check out their pages a little more in depth.  You are free to do the same thing on their site as you can on your own, so see what your competitors are up to!


The more you use Google, the more you’ll understand it. The more you experiment with some of their tools the more you can learn about your own site. Make sure and sign up for the Webmaster Tools while you’re at it. It provides a lot of useful information. I hope this helps!