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

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
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,... Read Full Bio
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.