I often use Google searches to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) research for my articles. The searches are mainly done to analyze titles that I want to use for future articles or to enhance content that I already have written.
There are three types of searches that I use:
- Search the title within quotes: This gives me visibility to see if an existing article is displaying in a Google search at all or to see if the title is used by another author to look for copyright violations.
- Search the title without quotes: This shows me how my article ranks in a Google search. I can also look at articles with similar titles to investigate why they are ranking better.
- Search keywords: After I do a title search, I remove words from the search until I’m sure I’m down to the most basic keywords. This also helps me understand more about my competition and how slim to keep my titles.
I have a system that I use to compare each of the above searches, which I will reserve for another article. For now, I’m going to show you a shortcut that I used to complete my searches. I have all of my titles in an Excel file so it makes sense to use an Excel formula to build a link for my searches so I don’t have to paste the data into Google each time.
When completing research for dozens of existing articles titles and potential titles, the time savings adds up. Start this process after combining data that you need to research on Google. I’m going to use the below list of titles and add links to them for an example.
Create a Link for a Regular Google Search
To show you how long a Google search URL looks like, check out the URL below. (The URL is a Google search for the title "How to Remove Duplicates in Excel")
When creating the a Google search link, you only need be concerned with the first section of the URL https://www.google.com/search?q= and phase(s) that you are searching for.
We can use the CONCAT and HYPERLINK functions to create a search by concatenating the first section with a cell that contains the search phrase(s). Look to see how the CONCAT function was used below to build a hyperlink. The beginning of the URL (which will not change) is added to the function with quotes. This is followed by adding the cell that contains the title to be searched.
Next, a hyperlink can be created with a description of what the link does. Notice, in the new formula below, how the HYPERLINK formula is added, creating a live link with the word search. This function uses the existing formula separated by a comma, which allows you to add a Name to the URL.
You can try this and click the link for yourself or view in the illustration below. Notice that using the link will give you the same results that you would get if you typed the title into Google and conducted a search.
Create a Link for an Exact Phrase Google Search
Completing an exact phrase search in Google is slightly different. The difference between the two searches is the %22 operator that takes the place of the double quotes needed around the search phrase to complete an exact phrase search. Notice the operator in the the search link below.
The first formula can be copied and pasted in the formula bar while a cell is selected. In the copy of the formula, I added the %22 to each side of the search term and changed the friendly name of the link to exact. When adding the %22 to the link, you must be careful to keep the data within the double quote of the formula.
As you can see in the illustration below, after the link for an exact search was clicked, when the %22 was added to the beginning and end of the search phrase, the quotes were also added to the search.
Both fields with the formulas can be dragged down to create links for the other phrases or, in the case of the sample, the other article titles.
I really like creating these links because it provides a lever to help me do research for topics that I want to write about. When I have an existing article that is not doing too well, these searches help me decide what data I should add to my existing articles to make them more relevant.
If you had issues creating the links, you can use the Excel spreadsheet that I used in this example by downloading it here. I've added some additional fields in the example to give you a better idea of what I'm tracking in my searches.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2023 Joshua Crowder