How Define: Operator Works and How To Get Included in Google Definitions

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Google define:keyword (no space) advanced operator is a very handy (yet not very widely used) way to quickly find the word meaning. However the algorithm behind getting included in Google definitions is unclear.

Google states they use “various sources” to pull the definitions from:

The query [define:] will provide a definition of the words you enter after it, gathered from various online sources. The definition will be for the entire phrase entered (i.e., it will include all the words in the exact order you typed them).

Webmaster experiences with the operator claim:

  • no matter what you do, you can’t be sure your site will appear at Google definitions for some term;
  • however by testing and experimentation webmasters managed to single out some tricks that increase your chances to get ranked for define:keyword search.

Let’s look into those tricks now:

  • to appear in a dictionary-like style the keyword should be followed by a colon and the comma-separated list of related words (remember my post on text relevance mentioning the similar mechanism behind Google Sets? Related words are those that frequently appear together in comma or <li> tag separated lists);
  • create a separate page for your site key terms and include the following (or similar) words in the page title and the file path: “glossary,” “papers,” “library, “journal,” “definitions,” “dictionary,” etc.
  • markup the glossary page the way it looked like a dictionary:
    • use <p>, <tr>, < li>, and <br> to separate the definitions;
    • bold the words you are defining.
  • A few more advanced tips:
    • Don’t capitalize the first letter of the definition;
    • Don’t start a definition with the word “see”;
    • make it more than 5 definitions on the page;
    • use <acronym> tag to markup acronyms.
Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Andrew Miller

    Perhaps one of the easier things to do is use the HTML and tags for “terms” and “definitions”, respectively. I’ve done this on my SEM glossary and get a steady stream of traffic to a VERY boring page. There are traffic spikes occasionally and I think it’s due to algorithm testing for the “define:” operator.

    I’ve been meaning to clean up the glossary and add some more info, but it’s low on the priority list at the moment. I should also point out that this traffic bounces at nearly 100%. I assume this is primarily because people are focused on getting a quick definition.

    Also, my definitions are unique (or were) and I have since seen them showing up in other glossaries. Damn you, content pirates!

  • Du Nguyen

    Sounds interesting. I’ll follow these tips!
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • infoaddicts

    Hi Ann,
    I often use the define operator to find the meaning of words, its pretty quick and accurate.
    Thanks for the advanced tips, will give them a try.

  • SEO Mumbai

    I think we should research for the terms for which google can’t provide any answer if we search with define operative. And then write unique researched description of than terms. Getting some quality link backs for that glossary page will also help a lot☺

  • suresh

    Hi frd,

    i think you learn more for seo. i am now start friend. if any material you got it pls share it friend. your tips are more useful for me.

  • websites

    Everything is changing come 2009 as Google has a new set of algorithms thats gonna change the way search results are displayed

  • Briongloid Media

    Hi Ann,
    Thanks for this post, exactly the information I was looking for – have bookmarked for future reference and will now test these techniques out on my own website – wish me luck! 🙂

  • Shawn

    Hey there,

    I love you tips on creating a glossary. Can you help us visualize by putting up a good example link?