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The average YouTube user (age 18 or older) spends 41.9 minutes per day on the platform. And if you’re one of those users, there are tools available to help you spend more time watching videos and less time searching for them.
As the second-largest search engine in the world, YouTube offers advanced search features like Google and Bing do. Here’s how to use them to expand YouTube’s search functionality and make it easier for you to find the content you want.
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What are YouTube search operators?
YouTube search operators are special commands that help users conduct more complex searches on the platform. Their goal is to make it easier for people to find the videos they need faster.
Like Google search operators, the ones on YouTube expand your search capabilities. And you only need to know the correct syntax in order to use them. You type them into the platform’s video search bar to get more relevant results.
In this search, for example, using the “OR” and “parentheses” operators allows you to pull up only the videos that:
- Have the keywords “behind the scenes”
- Contain content from either the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies
This is the great thing about search operators: You can combine them to make your search even more powerful. With the sheer number of YouTube videos available, this can save you lots of time trying to find the one you’re looking for:
Because of how they refine search queries, search operators often get confused with YouTube filters. But while these features can be used together, they have distinct functions within the platform.
15 advanced YouTube search operators
Search commands on Google and YouTube have a fair amount of overlap. That’s why learning these search tricks is such a powerful tool. It can help you be more efficient at finding information across the web.
Here are 15 YouTube advanced search operators (with screenshots) that you can use to make your search results more relevant.
Quotation marks “”
Putting quotation marks in your YouTube search will generate exact matches for your keywords. They are especially useful if you know a specific phrase but aren’t sure exactly where to find the video. Quotes also ensure that if you have multiple words in your search, the results have all of them in the video options.
EX. “making cupcakes for kids”
If you’re looking for content that was posted during a specific time, use the before:[date] operator. It allows you to pull up only videos uploaded before a certain date.
This pulls up the videos that are from 2010 or before.
Similarly, the after:[date] operator finds videos with an upload date after the one you specify. This is helpful if you want to eliminate old content.
For example, if you’re looking for Microsoft Word tutorials, you’d want to search for recent ones so you don’t get outdated information.
EX. microsoft word tutorial after:01-01-2018
When you enter a generic search term into YouTube, it will pull up all of the related videos. But many of these results may not focus specifically on that topic. Use the intitle: operator to find videos that have your keyword in the actual video title.
In this example, the search operator finds videos with the word “Shenandoah” in the title.
To find even more specific results, consider the allintitle: operator. It looks for multiple keywords within a title and will shorten the listings for you to sort through.
EX. allintitle:shenandoah national forest
This example refines the results to only show videos related to the national park.
Minus sign –
Refine searches by eliminating results that you know you don’t want. The minus sign allows you to exclude specific keywords.
EX. female tennis players -serena
This YouTube search will find all of the female tennis videos that don’t mention Serena Williams in the title or description.
You can use multiple YouTube search operators at once. The more complicated your search, though, the more important it is to organize operators. Add parentheses to group keywords and/or operators together so they work properly.
EX. declutter (closet OR kitchen)
Your results will include decluttering videos for either the closet or kitchen, but not both. Without the parentheses, the search phrase “declutter closet or kitchen” could potentially pull up videos about decluttering, kitchens, closets, or any combination of those topics.
You can also search Youtube video descriptions. The “description:” operator shows videos with a keyword in the description. In order to fit multiple words in the search, use quotation marks as well.
EX. description:”john mayer show”
Number range #..#
If your search involves numbers, consider using this operator. While it can be used for years, it is most effective for price searches. All you have to do is type the numbers that you’re looking for and separate them with two periods.
Notice how all of the video results fall within the specified number range? This search operator is especially helpful when you’re researching product reviews.
The word “OR” is a Boolean operator that lets you expand your search results to multiple keywords. If you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for, you can use this operator to target a couple of terms at once. Just remember, this will search for one term OR the other, not both.
EX. diy mugs OR homemade coffee cups
Pipe symbol |
Just like “OR,” the pipe operator helps you search multiple keywords at the same time. The results page will show you any videos containing any of the specified terms.
Plus sign +
To make sure that YouTube doesn’t miss something, use a plus sign. When making a broad search, it can be difficult for the search engine to know exactly what you want. The plus sign operator gives YouTube more context for which videos you’re looking for.
An asterisk tells YouTube to fill in a blank with whatever you can find. Because of its open-ended nature, this wildcard operator really only helps with broad searches. It is most useful when you can’t remember how to spell a word or forget a word within a phrase.
Dollar sign $
If the video you’re looking for includes a price, use the dollar sign to find it. The dollar sign comes in handy for shopping and doing product research. Simply look up a price value to get videos with content for that specific price.
EX. books $20
This search shows you videos that mention books and the price $20. It is an easy way to find comparisons and reviews.
Content creators can add hashtags to their videos. If you want to follow a trending topic or simply find related videos, put the hashtag in your search bar.
What’s the difference between YouTube search filters and search operators?
Aside from advanced search operators, users can also add filters to narrow down YouTube search results. Filters help viewers sort through search results, while search operators determine the search results themselves.
You can find the filter options beneath the search bar:
Using the filters won’t pull up new results, but it will narrow down future video search results. Take advantage of these advanced search options to find the most relevant video content possible.
A quick look at YouTube filters
Before you add search operators to your query, consider using YouTube filters. They customize the results page so that you can narrow down the most relevant videos. The benefit of using filters first is that they don’t change the results, they just change your view of the results.
There are five types of filters:
- Upload date: See videos based on when they first appeared on the site. The available options are: last hour, today, this week, this month, or this year.
- Type: If you’re looking for a specific type of content, use this filter. It gives you the option to narrow down to either YouTube channels, videos, playlists, or movies. YouTube will search whichever category you choose for your keywords.
- Duration: The duration filter helps you search for either long videos or short videos. The categories to choose from include: under 4 minutes, 4-20 minutes, or over 20 minutes.
- Features: You can filter for certain video characteristics using the features filter. Features include things like 3d videos, creative commons, subtitles, and live videos.
- Sort by: YouTube automatically lists videos according to how relevant they are to your search. The “sort by” filter lets you change the order of the listings. You can prioritize videos according to their upload date, view count, rating, or relevance (default setting).
Aside from clicking on these filters, you can also type them in the search bar. All you have to do is follow your search terms (including any search operators) with a comma and the filter.
EX. kayaking (idaho OR california), view count
Using these advanced search features side-by-side can significantly reduce your search time. When doing research, this also helps you find the most relevant results possible.
Get a complimentary SEO audit
YouTube is one of the most popular social networks in the world. With such a large collection of content available, though, it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for.
With YouTube search operators, you can browse through videos more efficiently. This reduces the frustration that comes with scrolling past irrelevant content or having a specific video in mind and not being able to find it.
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