How to Find Backlinks with the * Operator in Google

This post was originally written on October 2, 2013.

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, there were only 3 results in Google:

Google Link Operator Query
2013 Google Link Operator Results for

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

2018 Google Link Operator Results for
2018 Google Link Operator Results for

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

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

The results regarding “MR technique” have nothing to do with 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 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

Site Asterisk (*) Search Query for
Site: Asterisk (*) Search Query for

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 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:


See the below screenshot to see the results that this backlink search query produced for

Google Search Query for backlinks that excludes results from
Google Search Query for backlinks that excludes results from

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 The search query only produces mentions of 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.

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


See the below screenshot to see the results that this backlink search query produced for

Competitor Backlink Search Query on Google
Google Search Query for backlinks that excludes results from

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.


  1. jigar patel on October 24, 2015 at 5:06 am

    its really great operator. thanks for sharing

  2. Tedchnokrats on October 26, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Well thanks a lot for the tip

  3. Salan Khalkho on November 30, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Every good thing comes to an end.

    This trick no more works. I guess Google has fixed this issue. After all, a big slice of their SERP algorithm is based on back-link profile.

    But, nice try anyways.

    Keep up the good work. There are only few people out there who use their brains. Rest are only busy picking other people’s mind.


  4. Tom Nguyen on December 5, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Salan, it still works.

  5. Tom Nguyen on March 6, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Just updated this post with some valuable information.

  6. Chris Nddie on July 18, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Yes Its working. Thanks Alot. TOM, you shared an awesome technique.

  7. Tom Nguyen on July 18, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Chris, thank for letting me know. I’m happy to hear that the technique worked for you 🙂

  8. Simon on July 19, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Nice. You’re probably better off forcing the search and then removing anything on your own domain though:
    Returns about 540 results all which appear to be relevant.

  9. Tom Nguyen on July 19, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Simon. Using your query did cut down on the results, and I do like the results better. I’ll update this post pretty soon with your tip.

  10. Tom Nguyen on July 31, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Simon, I just reviewed both queries, and although they differ a little. The amounts of results are almost the same despite the numbers that Google gives.

  11. meer on August 8, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Sir, I used to check my competitor backlinks through your competitor analysis tutorial, but one problem that is how to check specific keyword backlink via “” -inurl: would you please help me

  12. Tom Nguyen on August 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm


    Are you not getting possible places to get backlinks when you run that query?

  13. Alba on January 30, 2020 at 6:44 am

    I need to know how to make a snippet

  14. DarkCoder on June 4, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Thank You For Sharing it… Pretty Interesting..

  15. Jason Roy on January 10, 2022 at 3:32 am

    It has been helpful and amazing techniques to enhance my links Sir
    Thanks for Sharing Stay Blessed

  16. Metin Karal on September 18, 2022 at 2:30 am

    Nice to see this info. It is really simple but did not think it before. Checked last technique ( and found good backlink opportunities. I’ll start to dig 🙂
    Thank you very much.

  17. Tom Nguyen on September 19, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks for letting me know that this helped you 🙂

  18. Steven on December 30, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    I use a tool called Scrapebox and with this modifier or footprint it will help me find exactly I am looking for. Because before I had no clue and was finding thousands of links similar to your first example but this will help me cut it down.

  19. Pat on March 19, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    I use personnal app for see and analyse backlinks. Your post it’s great 😉

  20. Alice Mcmiller on May 18, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    This article provides a tip on using the * operator in Google to find backlinks. The author suggests combining the site: operator with the * operator to search for all indexed pages of a competitor’s website and uncover potential backlinks. They share their own experience and encourage readers to try this method and provide feedback. The article concludes by inviting readers to share alternative approaches for generating competitor backlinks. Overall, it offers a practical technique for finding backlinks and encourages engagement from readers to share their own insights.

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