In this post I’m going to explain how to find and download eBooks for free using search operators. I’m not talking about doing anything illicit here either. It’s simply a way to use search engines to find and legally download free eBooks that are indexed in search engines themselves.
These may be buried on someone’s blog as a way to encourage a signup from you. However, if they’ve been indexed they’re actually publicly available and so you can circumnavigate the newsletter signup process.
So why might you want to download eBooks for free, aside from the obvious financial benefit?
How often have you been sold that report that’s going to tell you “The Insider Secrets to Unlocking Sales“? Or perhaps “20 Things Millionaires Don’t Want You to Know“?
Or maybe you’ve found what an interesting article titled “Smashing Through the Web Traffic Barriers to Destroy Your Competition“. However you’ve ended up in a sales funnel, where the real information is only available in a free eBook report. Of course you can only download it in exchange for your email address?
We’ve all been there.
I too love to immerse myself in such articles… and I’m a sucker for a great headline. Although sometimes the content beneath the bonnet is not great.
Surely a Free eBook is Worthless?
In a word: no.
There are oodles of amazing articles and eBooks on the web about the stuff I’m interested in. Especially content about search engine marketing and making money online. Some of the best ones I’ve read are free.
And of course, I’m not complaining about that!
Neither am I complaining about people asking for you to sign up to their newsletter. Even more so when they give you useful and actionable information to help you reach your goals.
This seems like a fair exchange to me.
There are some fantastic people out there with a lot of knowledge and real experience. These individuals can make a real difference in helping you move towards whatever you want to achieve.
I will happily give my email address to someone like this.
What I find frustrating though is being told I will learn “How the Top 10 Internet Gurus REALLY Make Their Money” from a free eBook only to sign up and find the report tells me nothing I don’t know already. Or even worse, the report tells me nothing at all about how the Internet gurus are killing it!
That’s feels like cheating me out of my personal information!
Usually when this happens I can’t do anything about it until the first newsletters begin to arrive. At that point I can unsubscribe… or block the sender if I keep getting spammed after I’ve unsubscribed (grrrrrrr).
So how do you know which reports are worth signing up to and which ones are not?
The answer to that is Google search operators.
What is a Search Operator?
Imagine making a regular search online. Rather than relying on Google to determine what you are looking for you could pass some hints into the search query to make Google return ONLY the results you want.
Google search operators are the power tools that enable this to happen.
There are around 40 different operators. Each one modifies the results Google delivers to you in very specific ways.
In terms of what I want to show you today, we don’t need to explore every Google search operator available. For the purposes of this discussion we only need to look at two of them.
How Can Two Search Operators Snag You a Free eBook?
First you have to come across a report that looks interesting to you.
Let’s take our example of “Smashing Through the Web Traffic Barrier to Destroy Your Competition”.
We’ve found this a hypothetical one at www.iwantyouremail.com. But as there’s no download link to it on the page we have to sign up to a newsletter. Of course if we do sign up we’re told we’ll “unlock access to other exclusive benefits” too!
The site: Operator
All we have to do is to ask Google to search only a domain we specify. We do this by using the following operator:
This search operator tells Google that we want to see all pages it has indexed from the site. We do this simply by typing the following into the search box and hitting return:
This query is really neat as it will return ONLY pages that Google has indexed from this domain.
This is a great start. But let’s say Google has found 1,500 pages in the site. We are only interested in a certain type of file that has been indexed.
The filetype: Operator
We can use another search operator on top of “site:” to further refine the results Google delivers to us. So to see only indexed pages of a specific filetype, the refining operator is:
By combining the filetype: and site: operators, we can narrow down our results to look specifically for PDF files.
In the case of our fictional domain it will look like this:
Now this is much better. Google has returned 250 results for the domain, all of which are effectively free eBook files.
However, we still need to look through each of these results to find the report we want.
Refining Results from the site: & filetype: Operators
So, we can refine the results once again. But this time not with another search operator, but simply by adding a keyword.
So we’ll extend the search query by adding a keyword, like this:
Google (hypothetically) returns a link to a free eBook titled “Smashing Through the Web Traffic Barrier to Destroy Your Competition”.
How to Search for a Free eBook from Google
Obviously the www.iwantyouremail.com domain and PDF article example are not real.
For a real world example, let’s take a look at Google itself and see what PDF reports it has indexed.
Example 1 – Search Google for Pages Indexed from its Domain
Using the following search query operator just a few minutes ago gave me this result:
You can see that Google is showing a staggering 881,000,000 results… to be expected really.
Example 2 – Search Google for PDF Filetypes Indexed from its Domain
As in the example above, we’ll refine our search to refine the results:
Example: site:google.com filetype:pdf.
That’s narrowed things down. Google tells us that it’s found 99,000 PDF files indexed on the google.com domain.
Example 3 – Search Google for PDF Filetypes about Blogging Indexed from its Domain
Further refinement adds a keyword into the mix. As a result, it reduces the number of results filtering out what we don’t need:
This has refined the search query further and reduced the number of results. In fact substantially… from an initial count of 881,000,000 indexed pages to 4,130 indexed PDF files. Your free eBook amongst them!
As I say, search operators are the bomb!
Don’t Abuse the Ability to Download eBooks for Free Though
Now, this post is not designed to show you how to get a free eBook so you can cheat people… that’s not my intention at all.
Also by discussing this, I’m not advocating that you just go and rip something from anybody. In particular from someone who has taken the time and effort to produce a report that teaches you something useful. Moreover perhaps even in an inspirational and entertaining way… without so much as a thank you.
You can use these search operators to find an eBook that gives you what you need. However, perhaps when you’ve read it you can decide if the writer deserves to have your email address or not.
If the report has taught you something, the author may have a whole heap of other useful things to share with you that you can’t get from a free eBook…
… and if that’s the case, why wouldn’t you sign up for their newsletter?
- Some websites promise you an unbeatable and free eBook that turns out to be poor at best and at worst… well, I won’t say that word publicly here as my parents raised me better that that.
- We can use Google search operators to refine search results for specific things we are looking for. We can think of them as powerful search filters.
- In my opinion, If someone gives you something useful that helps you get to where you want to be, you could check out their articles first and then sign up if they are worthy. In the spirit of the Internet, don’t just be a freeloader!
If you’ve enjoyed this article, you can find similar tricks and tips on my Tutorials page!
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!
Perhaps you have another (legal) way to download eBooks for free? Let me know in the comments section below.