Unveiling the Limitations of Google’s’ Site:’ Operator: What It Doesn’t Reveal

1 min read

Google experts warn that the “site:” operator comes with limitations. For a comprehensive understanding of indexing, trust Search Console instead.
The “site:” operator offers only a partial glimpse into indexed pages and cannot present a complete list.
Search Console presents a more extensive and detailed indexing perspective than the “site:” operator.
Although helpful for specific needs, relying solely on the “site:” operator may not suffice for comprehensive insights.

Google’s Search Relations team recently delved into the restricted capabilities of the “site:” operator during a podcast episode.
They had an illuminating conversation about this tool frequently used by website owners and SEO experts to assess a site’s indexing status.
Yet, the team stressed the superiority of Google Search Console in delivering comprehensive indexing insights, contrasting the operator’s broader strokes with the console’s detailed data.


Constraints of the ‘Site:’ Operator

The ‘site:’ operator, enabling website-specific searches, lacks a complete rundown of indexed pages.
Google’s Gary Illyes, from the Search Relations team, tackled the issue directly, affirming, “No, the site thing displays some indexed pages.”
Illyes asserts that furnishing an all-inclusive index of every page is unattainable for Google.


Practical Applications of the ‘Site:’ Operator

Although not a comprehensive indexing tool, the team underscored various valuable applications for the “site:” operator.
It can be utilized to track undesirable keywords or content, exemplified vividly by Illyes with phrases like “buy Viagra in a Timbuktan casino without a prescription.”

The operator proves beneficial in locating localized page versions and verifying image indexing, especially for websites hosting user-generated content.
Illyes mentioned, “On our search doc site, developers.google.com/search, sometimes I use it to find some of the localized versions of individual pages…”
He also noted the usefulness of image checking, cautioning about potential challenges in image search results. “…like in image search or the Images tab, you can use that to see what kind of images we have indexed because sometimes that can also get pretty nasty.”
While the discussion maintained a light tone, the team emphasized a crucial point: Google Search Console surpasses the “site:” operator for accurately identifying and resolving indexing issues.


Summing Up

In the recent episode of Search Off The Record, a comprehensive analysis of the “site:” operator was presented, shedding light on its functionalities and constraints to clarify its optimal usage.
Although not the definitive method for gauging a site’s indexing status, recognizing its efficacy in diverse areas renders it a valuable tool when employed with precision and understanding.

If navigating these complexities feels overwhelming, consider exploring our monthly SEO packages. Our team of experts is ready to assist and simplify the process for you.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]