Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Google Link: operator

The 'link:' operator on Google is supposed to show you what sites link to yours. This is quite helpful when assessing SEO because as we know, the number of links in to your site helps your ranking.

IT DOESNT WORK
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Google is thought to report only 5% of backlinks that exist. This is apparently because if they revealed more links people would be able to figure out how their search algoritms work. So, the bottom line is that the 'Link:' operator is rubbish.
http://www.successful-blog.com/1/check-google-backlinks-through-yahoo/
http://www.seo-guy.com/forum/thread10675.html


Google recommends using Webmaster Tools instead of the link command
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"you can get a much larger sampling of sites linking to yours using Google Webmaster Tools"
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=55281&ctx=sibling -

Google Webmaster Tools better than the Google Link: operator
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/02/discover-your-links.html


Google recommends another alternative approach to the 'link:' command
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"To obtain a comprehensive list of sites that point to a page, perform a Google search on the URL. From the search results page, select the "Find web pages that contain the term" link, and Google will provide you with webpages that mention that address. Note that in this case, Google will return all pages that mention this URL, not just those that link to it."
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34453


Others recommend using the Yahoo link: command
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http://www.seo-guy.com/forum/thread10675.html - this thread mentions the approach but I think the yahoo operators mentioned no longer work as described.

Backlink checking tools
=======================
There are tools available to check backlinks, such as marketleap.com, but several of them, including marketleap, just report the results of a standard Google 'Link:' query, which is pretty poor.


A quick test looking at www.chrisbikes.co.uk
============================================
Google Link:www.chrisbikes.co.uk - 3 links shown
Google Webmaster Tools - 231 links shown
Google search on www.chrisbikes.co.uk - 42 occurences shown

Yahoo Link:www.chrisbikes.co.uk - 35 links shown
yahoo.co.uk linkdomain:www.chrisbikes.co.uk - 42 links shown


http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com - 263 links shown
http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/uk/ - 35 links shown


Conclusions
===========
There seem to be 3 broad categories of results returned when it comes to looking for backlinks:

1. Absolute Rubbish
- results from google 'Link:' command

2. High Quality Links without much repetition
- results from a google search on the domain, or
- results from the yahoo link: or linkdomain: command

3. Comprehensive list of links with lots of repetition
- results from Google Webmaster Tools
- results from yahoo site explorer (US version - http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com)


Recommendations
===============
Do not use the google 'Link:' command.

Consider using the following:
Google Webmaster Tools or Yahoo Site Explorer
http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com to get a comprehensive list of links in.

To get a list of high quality links in try the yahoo link: or linkdomain: commands.

2 comments:

EverybodyGeek said...

Nice post on finding backlinks.
I relied on the link operator for too long, thinking my blog wasn't successful. At least now I know where to fin the real backlinks. Thank you!

saleel said...

Nice info. YOU have mentioned all major aspect. quite good to see your website. Thanks