Master Google’s Search Operators to Find Your Competitors’ Hidden Files

Google Search File Type

👉⚪️🎩 What is this competitive hack all about?

This hack involves using Google search operators to locate and access various files that companies have available on the Internet and that Google indexes. Whether it’s PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, or Excel spreadsheets, these documents can provide valuable insights into a competitor’s operations, marketing strategies, and more.

👀👀 What’s in it for me?

For starters, it provides valuable insights into your competitors’ methodologies, allowing you to learn from their research and potentially uncover valuable data that can inform your own business strategies. It’s also a direct route to understanding how your competitors operate, what content they produce, and how they engage with their audience or customers.

What are search operators?

Search operators are special characters or commands that you can include in your Google search queries to refine the results. They enable you to specify more precisely what you’re searching for, helping you sift through the vast amount of information available online to find exactly what you need.

When used effectively, search operators can turn a simple search into a powerful tool for competitive research.

Google’s filetype search operator

Google’s filetype search operator is a prime example of how a search operator can be utilized to narrow down search results to specific document types. This is incredibly useful when you’re looking for public documents, presentations, or reports from competitors.

If you search Google by typing in your keywords, you’re likely to get HTML results most of the time. But what if you want to search for other file extensions?

By prefixing your Google search query with filetype: followed by the desired file extension, such as PDF for Adobe Acrobat PDF files or PPT for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, Google will return only pages that contain links to documents of that particular type.

See the Asana example below. Note how we put and not It’s because, this way, you’ll be able to search for subdomains as well.

Google Search File Type PDF

Examples of file types to search for on Google

When looking into your competitors, consider searching for a wide range of file types and file extensions. Common file types could include presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint or OpenOffice presentation), detailed reports or eBooks (PDF), spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice spreadsheet), or even documents (Microsoft Word document, OpenOffice text, RTF files).

Additional file types indexable by Google and that are non-HTML files include different image formats (e.g., scalable vector graphics), basic source code, Perl source code, and other common programming languages (e.g., with extensions .c .cc .cpp .cxx .h), GPS exchange format, and Adobe Postscript.

How can I use Google filetype search for competitor analysis?

Utilizing Google’s filetype search can be a strategic component of your competitor analysis. Identify the type of information you seek, such as marketing campaigns or other information, and then use the filetype search to locate relevant documents.

This can provide valuable insights into your competitors’ strategies, messaging, and overall approach to the market.

Google Search File Type for Competitive Analysis | Unkover

For example, if you are interested in evaluating your competitors’ lead magnets for their marketing campaigns, simply type filetype:pdf competitor name into Google. This will return only pages that contain links to PDF files related to your competitor. You can then review these files to better understand their branding, messaging, and tactics.

Additionally, utilizing filetype search can also help you identify potential partnerships or opportunities for collaboration with other businesses. By searching for specific file types, such as spreadsheets or reports within your industry, you may come across valuable data and insights that could benefit your own business.

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Tips for searching by file type on Google

Growing up to my dad’s words, “Google is your friend,” I never thought I’d be sharing tips for performing a Google search. But when you search for specific file types, it makes sense to follow some best practices so that your search results return the right file format.

  1. Start with a clear objective: Before you begin your search, know what information you’re after. Are you looking for competitor price lists, marketing strategies, product guides, or something else? Having a clear goal in mind helps you craft more effective search queries.
  2. Stay within legal boundaries: Remember that while many documents are publicly available and legal to access, it’s important to use this information ethically and within the bounds of copyright laws. Always respect privacy and intellectual property rights.
  3. Use specific keywords: Combine the filetype search with keywords that are closely related to the content you’re seeking. The more specific your keywords, the more relevant your search results will be. For instance, if you’re searching for a competitor’s financial reports, you might use a query like filetype:pdf "annual financial report" <competitor’s name>.
  4. Leverage advanced search operators: Other than the filetype operator, familiarize yourself with additional operators like - (to exclude terms), " " (to search for exact phrases), OR (to search for multiple terms), and site: (to search within a specific website). These can be combined in various ways to fine-tune your search.
  5. Refine your searches based on results: If your first search doesn’t yield the desired documents, refine your search terms and operators based on the results you get. It may take a few tries to discover the right combination of keywords and operators that bring up the most useful documents.
  6. Search for files on a specific domain. If you want to find files only from a specific competitor’s website, combine the filetype search with the search operator site:<> to focus your search on that domain.
  7. Exclude words or phrases (or specific domains). To refine your search further, you can exclude certain words or phrases from your results by using the minus sign (-) before the word you wish to exclude (i.e., for specific websites, use site:<> to exclude it from your search results.)

Do You Want Google to Index Your File?

All the methods mentioned above to search for file types imply that the files are publicly available on the web (that is, Google can index them). If a competitor’s specific file type is searchable, then it’s safe to say that this can also happen to you.

While finding your competitors’ files can be insightful, it’s also crucial to be mindful of what files you make publicly accessible, as your competitors may also be reading this article!

That is why we suggest the same (reverse) hack for your company and a site audit 🙂

If you have sensitive information or specific types of files you wouldn’t want your competitors to find, consider adjusting your website’s robots.txt file or using noindex tags to prevent search engines from indexing them.

Looking for more Competitive Intelligence? Start your free trial of Unkover today and see what your competitors are up to in just a few minutes!

Google Search File Type for Competitive Analysis | Unkover


Can I search for multiple file types at once?

Sure. You can look for various file types simultaneously by including multiple filetype search operators in a single query. For example, you can combine your Google search file type with other search operators like site: or - (to exclude terms or domains) to yield more precise results.

Can I use Google filetype search to find…

1. Code snippets?

Yes, search by file type for something like HTML, Java source code (JS), or Python source code.

2. SEO templates and resources?

Absolutely. It is often found in multiple formats, like DOCX or XLS, which are Microsoft Word documents, Rich Text format, and Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice spreadsheets.

3. Documents in different languages?

Yes, though combining with language-specific keywords may improve results.

4. ebooks?

Typically found in PDF format, they need to be indexed by Google.

Can I search by file type within a specific website or domain?

Yes, using the site: operator alongside the filetype operator focuses your search on a specific domain.

What are some tips to get more accurate results using Google file type search?

Refine your searches with specific keywords, use operators to narrow down or broaden your first search term, and always keep your search objective in mind. Experimenting with different combinations of search terms and operators can also help uncover the most valuable information.

What is Adobe portable document format?

You’re probably more familiar with the acronym, as portable document format is simply PDF files.

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