Using search operators to find link opportunities for SEO

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 by Chris Pitt tagged ,

GoogleIn my earlier blog post I talked about my ‘geeky’ love for Google search operators. As a quick reminder, Google search operators are search commands that can be used when searching in order to refine your request.

There are a number of uses for search operators and many of the SEO tools used by beginners and professionals utilise search operators to perform important functions.

In this blog post I want to talk about how search operators can be used to find backlink opportunities for your campaign.

Searching for guest submission opportunities

A very simple search that you may have performed yourself is a search for sites that offer guest blogging opportunities for a particular industry. One such as [“accountancy” “Submit a guest post”] will return a list of sites that Google considers being about accountancy and that also take guest post submissions. You can further open this up placing a wildcard in the query and thus find even more opportunities i.e. [“accountancy” “Submit a * post”] will return pages that include “submit a guest post” and also “submit a blog post”.

You don’t have to stop here though. Perhaps you have a niche UK market and you only want links from sites that end in Appending to the search query will give us this [“accountancy” “Submit a * post”]

You can also tell Google what you don’t want in your query for instance [“accountancy” “Submit a * post” -intext:directory] will remove all results that have the word ‘directory’ on the page.

Competitor backlinks

You can use the Google index to find links to your competitor’s pages by simply using the “link:” operator. [] will return sites that link to your competitor. Importantly, it also includes where internal linking has taken place, so you need to refine your search like this - []. By doing this you are telling Google to show you all pages that link to your competitor’s site, except those on its own domain.

Perhaps you want to find all sites that link to your competitor from within a pdf? [ filetype:pdf] will return the information you want.

Finding business directories

A simple search for [“keyword” business directories] will provide you with a list of business directories, but if you are in a niche market you may need to refine your strategy a little more. [allintitle:hampshire business directories] returns a list of business directory pages that all have Hampshire in the browser page title.


By combining different search operators, it is possible to find out a great many opportunities for link building. It is important to note however that not all search operators will work together and that if your search query is too long it may stop working. In addition, the order that you build the query in can have an impact on your results. For instance [allintitle:hampshire business directories] returns different results to [business directories allintitle:Hampshire]

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About the author

Chris Pitt

Chris Pitt

Chris joined Vertical Leap in April 2012 as a Campaign Delivery Manager. He previously worked as the marketing arm for a number of finance, tax and accounting companies. His background is almost entirely marketing based, although he did enjoy a few years touring the country as a semi professional musician and played in front of festival audiences in excess of 4,000. He recently became a first time father and can no longer remember what it is like to sleep past 5am. Follow me on Google