Advanced Link: Operator to Explore Your Competitor’s Backlinks

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I for one do backlink research almost daily. Why is that so essential in SEO to know how to properly analyze backlinks?

  • It educates. The established sites in your niche set an example to follow and give you an idea of how link building is done.
  • It inspires. The more you know about pages linking to your competitor, the more ideas you get for link building for your own 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. Who’s my friend? (Learn who your partners are and do them a favor in return.) Where am I discussed? (Reputation management: participate in threads discussing you site.) And plenty of more important questions the analysis will be able to answer.

Thus this time I will be looking into the ways to explore the site’s backlinks using link: operator in Yahoo:

  • Find most relevant pages linking to a site/page: [linkdomain: keyword]

Sample search: [jewelry related sites linking to]

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

Sample search: [jewelry related sites linking to]

  • More variations of the above one (blog and social media specific): [link: inurl:keyword inurl:tag]

Sample search: [jewelry related blogs linking to]

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

Sample search: [jewelry related forums linking to]

  • Find pages containing your keyword in the page title [link: intitle:keyword]

Sample search: [jewelry related sites linking to]

  • Find .edu or .gov sites linking to the page [link: OR]

Sample search: [.edu or .gov sites linking to]

  • 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))

Sample search: [.xml pages linking to]

  • Find pages of different geographic location [link: region:europe]

Sample search: [European based sites linking to]

Available country options:

  • region:europe
  • region:africa
  • region:asia
  • region:centralamerica
  • region:downunder
  • region:mediterranean
  • region:mideast
  • region:northamerica
  • region:southamerica
  • region:southeastasia
Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
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  • Very very nice article.

    We spend a lot of time thinking about links and backlinks in the exact same way. A lot of our effort is also on automating the checking process, storing the information in a database, and tracking the changes over time.

    Keep up the good work!


  • Great share Ann. I use some of these as bookmarklets in my toolbar.

    My favorite for link find opportunities: link: OR


  • You might want to mention that all these operators and not completely accurate and show all the links fro your specified goal.

  • Mercy

    Good Post Ann!!! I would provide allinurl insteadof inurl:keyword. Since If your keyword is something with 2 term or 3 term kw like “Hotel Deal” or “Affordable Hotel Deal”. In such case than inurl:keyword allinurl:keyword would be more helpful and accurate.

  • goodnewscowboy


    I’m enjoying your articles immensely. They are always relevant and concise. I have probably learned more from your posts within the last 3 mths than any other 6 blogs combined.

    Thank you and KEEP THEM COMING!

  • Ann – amazing find on the region additions to the link operator. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

  • Yeah, the region additions are super cool!

  • Gr8 Post Ann!

  • Another awesome post from Ann..^^ I will bookmarked this one..^^

  • Great Post Ann that too with OR, Filetype and region

  • Supa dupa post Ann!

    I only new half of the operators before. Now I got some new stuff to improve my link analyses.

    As always a pleasure to stop by at Search Engine Journal!

    cheers, matt

  • Very resourceful post Ann! I didn’t know about the region operator either. I don’t trust Yahoo Site Explorer 100% (as I know there are inaccuracies), but it is certainly a great gauge for inbound links.

  • @Dev and everyone: please note the post describes link: operator in Yahoo (not Yahoo Site Explorer) – like it is stated in the post…

    Thank you for the comments!

  • Very helpful article, great to have all of these in one place…this one goes into my useful bookmarks folder 🙂

  • Thanks for the excellent information. We were just talking about backlink research yesterday.

  • Great post Ann, I’ve had so much trouble with programs that run stats for me and most don’t cover half of what you’ve provided here. I’m jumping ship!

  • Donovan Roddy

    Ann when are you guys going to start banning ip address or domains that do comment spam like the last three?

  • @Donovan : sorry for that. We do run spam protection but it’s not that easy to handle spam issues with the popular blog like this one.

  • Donovan Roddy

    Hi Ann I apologize I didn’t mean to come off as I was being critical of the spam system here, I was hoping that the three people that posted above subscribed to comments and notice that spam like it is unwanted.

    Thanks for all your great input Ann!

  • All these operators are not completely accurate and show all the links from your specified goal.

  • Gleaming and sparkling jewelries for those with varying taste. Great site!

  • Good stuff Ann .. very useful post. Cheers, Hugo

  • Cool article! Very visual.

  • Awesome post…these methods can be used in competitive research as well as finding link partners.

  • Very useful and will definitely add value to my work. Thanks so much.

  • Emmanuel

    Brilliant post Ann!

    Is anyone aware of a tool (similar to SEOElite) that can allow customizing the backlink analysis using the various operators described here?

  • Cleaning unlike any other companies!

  • I think you’ve added alot more to my skills. Great tips for running a back link analysis.

    Thanks Ann.

  • affordable and reliable internet telephone service.

  • Funnily enough I found you blog while doing a bit of competitor research myself. I liked the .gov, .edu suggestions.

  • Nicole

    This was so helpful and relevant – now I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day!

  • Clear and concise post Annie! Very helpful for all those who wants to grab links from their competitors. Thanks for sharing.

  • Definitely an informative post – link building can be such a pain & largely pointless when you can build more gain for less links. A very clever technique for identifying useful link sources!

  • your design kicks some serious ???

  • sharing such helpful information is great it can help me at my backlinks tnx!!!!

  • Greg

    Wish you would write a related post on the color coding and error codes found in Yahoo Site Explorer. Thanks.

  • Those region additions are great. Keep up the good writing and research!

  • Really very fascinating and remarkable article has been written, it will more useful and prolific for me thanks for sharing the immaculate tips.

  • Really very fascinating and remarkable article has been written, it will more useful and prolific for me thanks for sharing the immaculate tips.