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Wildcard Search : When and How To Use It

Wildcard Search : When and How To Use It

Sometimes you don’t know what exactly you are looking for. That’s when wildcard search may come in handy. Wildcard search can be used as placeholder for any sequence of characters or words. It is a seldom discussed search operator that can help a lot with SEO analysis and research.

Search engines treat wildcard search (an asterisk) the following way:


  • Wildcard matches one or more words
  • More stemming within search results.
  • Search terms in titles are less frequently bolded.
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[theolog] and [theolog*]

[free degree] and [free * degree]


  • Seems to work with exact match;
  • Less bolding within the results.


[theolog] is identical to [theolog*]

Compare: [“online programs”] and [“online * programs”]

MSN/ Live

  • Doesn’t seem to work at all
Continue Reading Below


[“online programs”] and [“online * programs”]


  • Replaces zero or more characters (works only at the end of a word);
  • No bolding within search results.


Compare: [theolog*] and [theolog]

Keyword research

Find more long tail phrases based on your core terms. Be sure to play with numerous variations and try using exact match, e.g. [blue * widgets] vs [“blue * widgets”];Thus it makes sense to use wildcard search in Google for:

  1. Link building and link monitoring: try [submit * link] to get an idea of how much more results you can find.
  2. Brand evaluation: play with the brand name most powerful matches: [ *];
  3. Finding quick answers (in bold) – compare: [“google was launched in *“] and [“google was launched in“]


Featured Image: Andrey_Kuzmin via Depositphotos


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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 ... [Read full bio]

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