Today, SEO practitioners are exposed to many powerful SEO applications. However, few of them work really well in the China Market. If you are doing SEO in China, you might have problem to find a good SEO application to help you.


But as a SEO practitioner, don’t forget the search engine itself is one of the best tools. There are a number of query operators that we can use in the process of Search Engine Optimization.  I will introduce you to how to use these advanced query operators to do competitor analysis, keyword research and link building.



Use query operator to help Competitor Analysis

It’s very important to indentify your competitors in the process of SEO, and you can explore this from two angles, keyword and content relevancy. To find those pages that compete on the same keyword, you can use the Google query “intitle:keyword –”.




To find those websites that Google thinks have the most relevant content to your website, you can use Google the query “”.  The search results will give you an idea who your neighbours are.



Use query operators to help Keyword Research

Google queries “Intitle” and “Inanchor” are often used to research the keyword competition. “Intitle:keyword” is to find pages that have the keyword in the page title. “Inanchor:keyword” is to find the pages that have the most backlinks with the keyword in the anchor text.


To better identify your competitors for a certain keyword, you can even combine these two operators together to search, “Inanchor:keyword Intitle:keyword”. The search results will reveal those real competitors who have been optimizing for this keyword.




“Intitle” command works in Baidu as well. However, Baidu does not support the “inanchor” command.


When you try to expand your keyword list, you can use the Google query operator “*” and “~”.  “*” can be used as a wildcard, for example “*keyword” or “keyword*”, to find out more keywords. “~keyword” makes Google tell you what keywords Google thinks are related to your keyword. “*” and “~” works fine for Chinese terms, but is not as good as for English keywords.


Finding the most appropriate landing page is often the next step after you have a list of keywords. Use “ keyword” in Google, and Google will tell you what page is most relevant to the keyword. The search will be based on those pages that are indexed by Google, so this should not be the only factor when you are deciding on proper landing pages.


If you have already decided your landing page, performing this query can also help you to find out what pages are possibly competing with your landing page for a certain keyword. You might want to avoid the competition happening on your own site.




Baidu supports “Site:” command. However, the results are not that accurate, so I tend to use Google.



The most efficient way to find linking prospects is to find those links pointing to your competitors. If they can link to your competitors, then they could possibly link to you, too. I often use Yahoo to search for the competitors’ backlinks by using query “”.


Baidu does not support “link:” command and Google shows limited results, hence I often use Yahoo rather than other search engines. The other way is to find those forums or blogs that are most relevant to your keyword, and see if there is any opportunity for link building. You can use the Google query “inurl:forum keyword” or “inurl:blog keyword” to generate a list of link prospects.



Use query operators to help Link Building



In conclusion, query operators are the very basic tools to give you the insight into what search engines see and how they “think”, and so they are probably one of the best tools as well.