I’ve read books on SEO, and many of them recommended using link: on Google to find competitor backlinks like this:
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:
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 Digital Marketing Firm. In the following screenshot, you’ll see that the first 4 results are from 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:
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:
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:
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 search query produced for 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.
Give this search query 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.