I’ve read books on SEO, and many of them recommended using link: on Google to find competitor backlinks like this:

link:yourcompetitorwebsite.com

Things have changed since I first wrote this blog post in 2013. When I first used the link operator on mrtechnique.com, there were only 3 results in Google:

Google Link Operator Query

2013 Google Link Operator Results for mrtechnique.com

The year is now 2018, and there are a lot more search results than that although the results consist of more than external links to our website. In the following screenshot, you’ll see that the first 4 results are from mrtechnique.com.

2018 Google Link Operator Results for mrtechnique.com

2018 Google Link Operator Results for mrtechnique.com

About 16,300 results were produced from this search query. Results 5-10 are legitimate backlinks from social media and local directory websites. However, when I went to page 2 of this search query, I found some results unrelated to mrtechnique.com:

Page 2 Link Operator Search Query for mrtechnique.com

Page 2 of the Link Operator Search Query Shows Some Irrelevant Results

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The results regarding “MR technique” have nothing to do with mrtechnique.com. So, using the link operator in Google will allow you to find some competitor backlinks, there’s a better search query than this. I knew that if refined my search query by using site:websiteaddress.com on Google, I would get all of a website’s pages that are allowed to be indexed by Google.

Then it hit me! I remembered all the way back to my teenage years when I used DOS. I remembered using the wildcard (*) operator when I wanted to find all the files in a directory. If using site: showed all of a website’s pages indexed by Google and the * operator showed everything, I figured if I could use the following query to find all of a competitor’s backlinks that were indexed on Google:

site:* competitorwebsite.com

When I used this query on our competitors, I was able to find a lot of websites where I could get some relevant backlinks (e.g. directories, blogs, review websites. See below for the results this search query produced for mrtechnique.com:

Site Asterisk (*) Search Query for mrtechnique.com

Site: Asterisk (*) Search Query for mrtechnique.com

This query refined the results even more (around 14,000). When I first wrote this blog post, this was as far as I got, but I learned that I could refine this search query even more. I learned that if you want to exclude all pages from a certain website, you can use -site:websiteaddress.com to do this. So, by combining this exclusion part to the search query to the query above, I came up with this query to find competitor backlinks:

site:* competitorwebsite.com -site:competitorwebsite.com

See the below screenshot to see the results that this backlink search query produced for mrtechnique.com:

Google Search Query for mrtechnique.com backlinks that excludes results from mrtechnique.com

Google Search Query for mrtechnique.com backlinks that excludes results from mrtechnique.com

Most of the results in this screenshot are places where you can get a backlink, but not all of the search results in the screenshot above are websites with backlinks to mrtechnique.com. The search query only produces mentions of mrtechnique.com. There also wasn’t 13,200 results. I was only able to view about 330 results. Like a regular Google search query, the first pages produce the best results.

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Simon from twelve2 suggested (in the comments below) this query that also returns legitimate results:

“competitorwebsite.com” -inurl:competitorwebsite.com

See the below screenshot to see the results that this backlink search query produced for mrtechnique.com:

Competitor Backlink Search Query on Google

Google Search Query for mrtechnique.com backlinks that excludes results from mrtechnique.com

Although Google says there are 437 results, I only was able to view about 360 results. Like a regular Google search query, the first pages produce the best results.

Give these search queries a shot. Remember to use your competitor’s website URL in place of mine.  I hope this helps. If you’ve tried this out for yourself, let me know how it went for you by posting a comment below. If you have a better way of generating competitor backlinks, feel free to let me know in the comments as well. Thanks for reading.