Advanced Link Building: Operators to Unearth Your Competitor’s Backlinks and Other Link Opportunities

Advanced Link Building: Operators to Unearth Your Competitor’s Backlinks and Other Link Opportunities

    Hunting down competitor backlinks is really a herculean task; hence we have jotted down an extensive and useful list of advanced search operators that will bring you a handful of unique backlinks from your competitors.

    Before diving in, we need to know why we should consider analyzing the backlink profile for any SEO campaign.

    It educates. The established sites in your niche set an example to follow and give you an idea of how link building is done.

    advanced link building using search operators

    It inspires. The more you know about linking pages to your competitor, the more ideas you get for link building for your website. That shouldn’t be copying the competitor’s strategies – but this analysis gives you an idea in which direction to move forward.

    It keeps you up-to-date. And plenty of more important questions the analysis will be able to answer.

    Now, let’s explore some beautiful ways as mentioned below for Google and Other Search Engines:

    Find most relevant pages linking to a site/page: 

    [linkdomain: keyword]

    Find pages containing your keyword in the URL (another relevance-focused search): [link: inurl:keyword]

    More variations of the above one (blog and social media specific): 

    [link: inurl:keyword inurl:tag]

    More variations of the above one (to find discussion boards and forums): [link: inurl:keyword inurl:forum OR inurl:forums]

    Find pages containing your keyword in the page title 

    [link: intitle:keyword]

    Find .edu or .gov sites linking to the page 

    [link: OR]

    Find pages of various file types 

    [link: originurlextension:xml] 

    (file types: HTML, PDF, Excel (.xls), PowerPoint (.ppt), Word (.doc), RSS/XML (.xml), and text format (.txt))

    Find pages of different geographic location 

    [link: region:europe]

    Available country options:











    Additional List of Queries

    The queries we used were quite simple but they produced an excellent list of target sites.

    Here are the queries we used:

    intitle:”SEO blogging”

    intitle:”SEO blogs”

    intitle:”SEO tips”

    Finding colleges and universities who link degree students and alumni to to job opportunities

    Target Asset = Job Vacancy / Internships For (with your important keywords of course)

    Key Link prospects = Universities and colleges, alumni sites

    Link prospecting queries (in Google) = jobs degree, careers opportunities, careers advice, jobs degree, careers degree, careers advice + variations

    Content targeted:

    {keyword} “guest blogger” OR “guest post” OR “guest article” OR “guest column”

    {keyword} “become a contributor” OR “contribute to this site”

    {keyword} “write for us” OR “write for me”

    {keyword} inurl:category/guest

    You can refine these queries by using {keyword location} instead of {keyword}, or by switching to just {location}.

    Resource/ research targeted:

    {keyword} “top * [tools/ articles/ websites/ etc.]” -> refine search to ~1 year ago. Contact anybody who shows up and ask if you can help with the 2009/ 20** edition of the article

    {keyword} research -> see explanation above

    {keyword} {location} resources OR “useful sites” OR links

    {keyword} {USP} intitle:resources -> Use ‘green’, ‘cheapest’ etc as USP

    .edu targeted: {keyword} “planned research” OR “upcoming project” -> might return upcoming research/ project/ whatever that can be useful (both for info and for links)

    To find specific types of websites:

    {keyword} “Powered by phpBB” OR “powered by vBulletin”

    {keyword} “Blog powered by TypePad” OR “powered by WordPress”

    Promoting videos and free tools or widgets:

    target asset = Video Content

    link prospecting queries = intitle:[{target keyword} videos], intitle:[{target keyword} clips]

    target asset = Free tool/widget

    link prospecting queries = intitle:[{target keyword} tools], intitle:[free {target keyword} tools], intitle:[list of free {target keyword} tools], intitle:[list of {target keyword} tools]

    Here are a few database of queries we use for generic link building:

    “keyword phrase” sponsor charity

    “public library” “useful links” keyword phrase

    “useful keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite

    “helpful keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite

    “favorite keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite

    “best keyword phrase” OR

    keyword phrase resources public library

    keyword phrase

    Search operators to find personal email addresses for link outreach. some of my favorites:

    site:[] + [name] + email

    site:[] + [name] + contact

    site:[] + [name] + email

    site:[] + [name] + contact

    Social Media Based queries are obviously useful for commenting and scoping out competition so:

    site:{SN} {keyword}

    Where SN (social network) is, or etc. and {keyword} is one of your keywords or brands/competitor brands.

    The other quite useful is narrowing down themed directories so:

    {keyword} + “add a site”

    {keyword} + “submit url”

    Obviously there are literally loads of combinations of these utilizing different words for directory i.e. “suggest url” or “submit listing”

    • {keyword} + “intitle:directory”
    • {keyword} + “inurl:directory”

    Target Asset = Red Widget

    Strategy – A combination of standard text or content that can usually see in a website

    Ex: Directory = inurl:submit.php intext:Powered by “Directory Name” intext: red widget

    Blog Commenting = intext:red widget intext:blog comments powered by “Comment Plugin”

    Social Media = intext:”Submit A New Story” intitle:Register intext: “Name of Social Media Script”

    Forum = inurl:forum intext:red widget

    Advanced queries in combination with Google alerts, to receive mails to drop link:

    OR inurl:links

    Reverse engineering link profiles:

    • [ “SEO Blog”]
    • linkdomain: – searches for links to
    • Site; – tells it to look for results from ‘.com’ extensions.
    • “SEO Blog” searches the KWs on the page (or hopefully in the anchor text)
    • [ “keyword”]
    • [ ” keyword”]

    Or maybe if we’re looking for relevant pages, we can track the TITLE

    • [ intitle:SEO]

    Page URLs are strong also, so we might do something like:

    • [ inurl:”search engine optimization”]

    We also can use a variety of low level link trolling with dorks related to:

    • [add-links, last-updated 2000]

    Finding people who will want to share your content (…including linking to it…)

    • Linkedin: [ inurl:in “social media expert”]
    • Bebo: [ inurl:profile inurl:bebo “social media expert”]
    • CafeMom: [ “stay at home mom”]
    • Facebook: [ “led zeppelin”]
    • Flickr: [ “@gmail”]
    • Twitter: [ -inurl:statuses -inurl:status “social media expert”]
    • MySpace: [ inurl:myspace inurl:fuseaction “go to nc state”]
    • YouTube: [ “social media expert”]