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How to use Regex Filters in Google Search Console

Regex Filters in Google Search Console

Earlier this year, Google added the Regex filter to its search console. This means that you can now use the advanced properties of Regular Expression (effectively, Regex) on your website and modify its appearance on the search console. It allows you to filter data in more complex and effective ways, which ultimately is a good thing for your SEO efforts. In this article, we’re going to explain to you briefly how to make use of the Regex filter to the best of your advantage.

Firstly, what is a Regex filter?

Regular Expression, more commonly known as Regex, is a sequence of characters or words that defines a search pattern. Understanding this can be a bit complex. Take this example. Suppose, your website is called zebratiles.com. Now, if someone types ‘Zebratiles’, your website shows up. However, what happens if someone writes ‘Zebra Tiles’ or ‘zebbra tiles’ or ‘zebras tiles’? Maybe it’s a typo, or maybe they’ve simply forgotten the exact name. Through Regex features, you can make sure that all of these searches lead to your site, and that your data includes all these searches. Mistakes in searches are pretty common. You will be surprised to know how many people type ‘mcdonals’ instead of ‘McDonalds’. To prevent the loss of a valuable site visitor due to a simple mistake like this one, it is important to use Regex.

What all can you use the Regex filter for?

The Regex filter has several advantages. But the most critical one is that it saves you a ton of time. It takes away the hassles of creating excel sheets and hiring people for simple tasks. You can take up search console work yourself and save both time and money. These are some things you can do:

1. Filter all the variations in your brand/website name. Imagine this, someone recommended your media website called CarrotPress to their friend, verbally. The friend goes home and might end up searching things like ‘Carrot Press’ ‘Caret Press’, ‘karat press website’, ‘carrot media’, or ‘caret press’. Earlier, you could only filter queries with your brand name. But now, you can include all the possible variations you can think of.

2. You can bring traffic to a particular section of your website. Here is how Google explains it:

if your URL structure is example.com/[product]/[brand]/[size]/[color] and you’d like to view traffic leading to green shoes, but you don’t care about the brand or the size, you might use shoes/.*/green. Here * matches any character any number of times.

3. You can also filter URLs by File Extension, and see more detailed insights for your website and brand name searches. Overall, Regex leads to a better experience for you as a brand owner and allows you to keep better tabs on how you are growing. These insights will help you understand how people are discovering your brand, what your most popular products are, what other pages refer to your content, and what people search to get to you.

How to Use Regex?

Here are some essential tips to use for regex:

1. Google search console uses a Re2 syntax. You can use this easily and it isn’t very difficult to master.

2. To start filtering your performance insight report, click on ‘New’ and select ‘Query’. Now, select ‘Custom(regex)’. Add in your terms and filter your report.

3. To filter queries containing a specific word, add the word between two asterisk symbols. For example, *caretpress* or *zebratile*.

4. You can also use the negative filtering option. You can see not only positive but also negative options. After you choose ‘Custom(regex)’, a second dropdown box will appear. Here you get the option of choosing ‘doesn’t match regex’.

5. GSC regex supports several metacharacters. These define special meanings in some special criteria. For example, xy means ‘x followed by y’ but x|y means ‘prefer x’. You will get the list of metacharacters online.

Regex is complicated to use, but it is effective and really useful. The online community was overjoyed by Google’s new decision to include Regex filters in its search console, and for good reason. Regex is an effective tool to filter your site insights. A few tries will help you master it easily.

How to Find Questions or Queries Using Regex?

Other than enriching you with site insights, Regex can also be used to search queries or long-tail keywords. In addition, the tool can help you find questions with low competition, so you can use them to your advantage by writing some short posts or snippets.

It might sound complicated initially, but it’s simple when you practice it just a few times.

Find Queries with X Number of Words

Open search console

Click “Performance”

Click “New” and then choose “Query.”

Here, select “Custom (regex).”

  • Fill up this expression in the Custom Regex option: ([^” “]*\s){7,}?

When you click Apply, it will show you questions with 8 or more words. If you want an even longer question, type 9 in place of 7.

Similarly, if you want only 4 words or more, change the 7 to 3.

Once the search results show up, sort it by impressions, and you will have many long-tail keywords and queries that you can use to write your blog posts or add snippets.

  • Finding Queries that Start with Questions

Here are some regular expressions you should use to find queries on Regex-

“who, what, when, where, why, how, was, did, do, is, are, isn’t, won’t, does, if.”

More regular expressions can be:

what|who|when|where||why|how|was|did|do|is|

does|are|aren’t|if|won’t|can|could|should|would|

were|weren’t|won’t|shouldn’t|couldn’t|cannot|can’t|didn’t|did not|does|doesn’t|wouldn’t

Type: ^(how|why|who|what|where)[” “]

This will bring you all the queries that start with a question word.

The Regex search box can be changed in different ways. For example, if you want to search queries that begin with a particular keyword, then you can add that keyword after the sign ^ and click Apply.

Similarly, if you want queries that end with a particular word, you type that word with this sign $  and click Apply.

If you want to find queries with your misspelt brand name, then follow this formula.

Brand name| misspelt brand name 1, and so on. You can add as many misspelt brand names and separate them with (|) this pipeline sign.

Conclusion

Apart from saving time, regex is a very powerful way to filter and discover opportunities in GSC. Get in touch with an SEO expert and we can take care of this for you.

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