Thursday, July 25, 2024

Searching in Web Page Titles for a more Targeted Query

You know how it goes. You try searching for something and you pull up hundreds of thousands of sites and you sit there pecking away at the keyboard, page after page, trying to find something relevant.

Using basic operators like OR, grouping by parenthesis and synonyms certainly help. But, there is something else very simple that you can use in many cases that will greatly reduce the results list to just the best matches.

What I’m talking about is being able to have Google bypass the page text that is filled with who-knows-what, and search just within the titles of the pages with the use of the very powerful “intitle:” and “allintitle:” operators. These little gems will ignore all the text, the URL, the Meta keywords and everything else except the actual page title. Why does this work so well? You see, web sites insert a title in each of their pages. These titles are are chosen very carefully to best reflect the content of the page so that the search engines will properly index it and will display a meaningful title in the search results page.

So, using these operators will pull up only the pages that have the words you are looking for right in the title. Pages that merely mention your keywords in their text will be ignored. Only the most focused will be returned.

We’ll start with “alltitle:”. To use it, simply enter it along with the words with which you want to search the title. List the keywords one after the other with a space in between them.

Let’s say you wanted to find pages that offer XP Office tips. First, let’s look at an example without the “allintitle:” operator; you can just click on the link in the query below and it will open in a new window or Firefox tab. (By the way, notice with used the “~” character to tell Google to also search for synonyms of “tips”-another powerful operator.)

[xp office ~tips]

Not all the pages look all that helpful, do they? Now try it with the “allintitle:”

[allintitle: XP Office ~tips]

You can see that helped quite a bit. The pages seem to be more focused on tips for XP Office.

The next thing I’m going to mention isn’t really part of searching within the title, but it goes along with the example and I can’t help myself. Let’s say you didn’t want to see tips from the Microsoft site, and you didn’t want to pull up links to XP Office-related books on Amazon’s site. You can add exclusions for the and domains with the following code:

[allintitle: (xp office ~tips)]

Now that’s a cool search! More about “site:” another day.

What about the “intitle:” operator? What’s different about that? It will check for only one word in the title, not a list of words. Then why use “intitle:” when you could use “allintitle:” with just a one word list after it? The Google site doesn’t’ really say, but with some experimentation I found that “allintitle:” does not like anything in front of it in a search query, or anything other than the keywords (or expressions defining the keywords) after it either. This isn’t the case with “intitle:” For example, here are two ways you can use “intitle:” that you cannot with “allintitle:”:

[“pinot noir” intitle:wine]
[intitle:wine merlot chardonnay]

Notice that in the second search query there are three words after the operator. If this were a “allintitle:” they would all be considered the list of modifiers for the operator and therefore must reside in the title. But, in the case above only the first word is the modifier so only “wine” needs to be in the title and “merlot” and “chardonnay” can be found anywhere on the page. You can go beyond this simple query by adding more operators:

[intitle:wine “fruity merlot | chardonnay” “award winning”]

Now we’re having some fun! That one found all pages with “wine” in the title, award winning and either fruity merlot or fruity chardonnay in the page text.

Like I said, these operators are extremely powerful.

Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

Visit Google Tutor & Advisor

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