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October 18, 2009

7 Tricks to Get a Goooooooooooogle of Links

SEO is a race. And in any race learning from your competitors makes you a better runner. Even when you’re running first it’s sometimes good to look back and check the runner-ups. And if you’re not the yellow jersey guy, you absolutely should examine the leaders: their gear, their training, their strategy. In SEO the most interesting thing about your competition are their links.

Whether you like it or not SEO is still pretty much about links. Good link profile can make up for almost any lack of optimized content and other onpage flaws. Love or hate, the best thing you can do about it is embrace the fact and run with it.

So let’s go through some tricks that will enable you to look deeper into your competition’s link profile granting you access to the restricted areas: their locker room, dirty laundry and even the briefing hall where they plan their link building strategies.

Let’s Talk Competitive Link Research

Finding out where your competitors’ links come from is not all that hard. You just go to Yahoo! or Google and type in to get a list of inbound links to the site.

Yahoo’s much better in that respect as it tends to give more extensive and accurate data. The problem here is that there’s a limit of 1,000 links per website which is often not enough as the fattest link sources get left behind the limit fence.

Here’re some tips to break through to the other side.

Note: If you’re lazy like me skip to the end of the article where I’ll share a tool that does it all much quicker.

Trick 1: Search for Links to Particular Web Pages of a Competing Site

Alongside with search for or and so on.

Trick 2: Exclude Internal Links

You may examine the internal linking structure of your competition if you want to gain some insight on their navigation and marketing steps. But as we want to find more external links, let’s exclude the internal ones.

You can do this by adding operator to your search query. Type in:

link: or and you’ll get a list of external backlinks only.

There’s a dropdown option in Yahoo! site explorer that does the same.

Trick 3: Exclude Links Coming from Certain Domains

The -site: modifier lets you exclude links coming from specific sites. So, whenever you see a large chunk of links coming from the same domain add modifier to your query and the links from this site will get replaced with new ones.

You can add -site: multiple times in one query so that you have something like this:


Trick 4: Check Links Coming from Certain TLDs

This is a little known trick. The site: modifier actually lets you get a list of links coming from domains with certain TLDs:
.com, .org, .edu, and so on. Just type in link: or and you’ll get a list of .gov sites linking to your rival.

Note: Do this in Yahoo! regular search, not site explorer

Trick 5: Exclude Links Coming from Certain TLDs

This is an even lesser known trick. You can exclude certain TLDs from the results with the -site:.tld modifier. Usually the biggest chunk of links comes from .com’s so add a modifier and you’ll get lots of new link data.

Trick 6: Use Different Combinations of the First 5 Tricks

Try link:

Or link:

Give it a thought and I’m sure you’ll come up with lots of your own. Feel free to share your findings in the comments

Trick 7: Use the Above 6 Tricks in Different Search Engines

Don’t limit your searches to Yahoo! and Google, go to AltaVista, Alexa, (Bing doesn’t give you link data, so forget about it) but then there’re Exalead, Excite and tons of regional search engines. Search them, remove the duplicates and you’ll have a goooooooooooooooogol of competitor’s links to study.

Note: Some search engines have a different set of operators so you’ll need to type domain: instead of link:.

Getting It All Done Fast

This sure seems like a lot of work and it is. Moreover, getting the links list is only the beginning and the easy part of competitive link research. Once you get the list you need to analyze each link, weed out poor quality sites and only leave the ones you can get a link from. Now THAT’s a lot of work.

I’m too lazy to do this all by hand, besides I value my time too much to waste it on such kind of work. That’s why I use SEO SpyGlass ( an advanced link analysis tool that employs all the tricks described in this article (plus some more advanced ones I don’t even know) to get up to 25,000 links per domain, which is much, much more than any other tool can get.

SEO SpyGlass also finds all the data I need to analyze the links:

  1. Google PR of the domain and linking page
  2. The URL and title of the linking page
  3. The anchor text and description
  4. Whether the link is still on the page (sometimes the link gets removed but search engines will think it’s there till they reindex the page).
  5. Whether the link is no-follow or dofollow
  6. How many other links are on the page
  7. How much link value the link passes
  8. And some other data like TLDs, domain age, country, etc.

If you want to do competitive link research seriously, I’d strongly recommend trying SEO SpyGlass out. And of course you can always use my tricks whenever you want to run a quick background check on that new guy on your block.

Note: This article first appeared on (

Get more link building advice and SEO software ( to help you implement it. Richard Gilmore is an Internet marketer, freelance SEO, author and addicted guitar player.

17 Responses to “7 Tricks to Get a Goooooooooooogle of Links

    avatar isubmitlinks says:

    This is free directory can submit your web site as free.

    avatar Richard says:

    I think now it’s hard to get useful links.

    1. I have to laugh when I read these so called ‘expert ways’ and ’secrets’ of getting links..

    Here is the reality.

    You spend hours, and I mean many hours, hard labour trying to identify the competitor links who ranks highest [or higher than you anyway] and then the fun begins.
    You now have to find out HOW the links were placed…were they reciprocal, were they via do follow comments or forum postings, were they via article submissions, and so on and so on.

    This again takes AGES to sift through, because EACH LINK has to be investigated individually.
    Lets assume you use Yahoo site explorer…you follow the linked page, then have to see how the competitors link is placed; in what context? Was it paid for? Is it a comment on a blog? Is it a reciprocal link? And so on.
    If the link is a comment on a blog, this is fairly straight forward (but beware the issue in paragraph below) If it’s a reciprocal link, you have to begin the process of contacting the websmaster, and then hoping your website will be accepted. If it’s a paid link, same thing.

    But the most ridiculous aspect of all this is that you simply are not comparing like with like, apples with apples. Your website isn’t the same as your competitor (or at least it shouldn’t be!) your content will be different…how old is your site compared to your competitors? Will a link partner be willing to link to your website (with maybe less age, rank and PR) than the competitor’s site? Lots of the links will be on ‘no follow’ pages that once were ‘do follow’ but have now changed. (a real ‘killer’ this one, especially if you don’t know how to indentify ‘no follow’ pages on Blogs and Forums etc)

    Any really valuable back links, one way back links in particular, which are THE most sought after, will likely be paid for links and you will need to set aside a sizable budget if you want to mimic these links. And that pre-supposes that the link site is still willing to accommodate more links of the same ilk.

    The fact is, you should be looking to make your website as rich in excellent content as you possibly can, making every effort to ensure on-page optimization is carried out to the absolute maximum, covering every single aspect of this discipline. Then, and only then, should you start looking to build YOUR OWN back links.
    There is NO QUICK FIX, no ‘SECRETS’….the methodology is already well established. There is a huge industry out there preying on people’s tendencies to believe that there is a magic way to garner hundreds of back links.

    This tendency is an ingrained trait of human nature, and when one considers just how much CAN be automated using software nowadays it becomes a potent attractor.

    But don’t be seduced.

    Create YOUR OWN rich content.
    Identify and gather YOUR OWN back link strategy.

    Copy cat tactics wont work, will take too long to complete, and you’ll only end up becoming increasingly frustrated and disenchanted.

    Be a leader, not a follower.


    Thanks for the insight. While I also believe in creating value and developing quality content I have to disagree. Competitive intelligence IS a viable link building strategy. By looking at the link profiles of your competition you can identify quality link sources you’re probably missing out.

    This is not just about copying the other guys work. By looking at what the competitors are doing you also learn what they are NOT doing and if you analyze it you can come up with something creative and get the links no one yet has. The thing is you shouldn’t focus just on 1 competing site but take a larger group of say 10-12 competitors and analyze their links. Adopt the best working techniques improve on them, tweak them for your business and you’ll be riding on top of the wave.

    Yes it’s not an easy job to do and getting the link list is just the first step, but in that you’re echoing the ideas in the article. The software recommended here helps you get all that data fast and easy.

    You say: “Will a link partner be willing to link to your website (with maybe less age, rank and PR) than the competitor’s site?”

    I say it’s not just about link exchange, there are plenty of other opportunities: is your competitor guest posting on some authority blog? Maybe you can make a post there too. Is there a review site where you can feature your product? Go for it.

    “Lots of the links will be on ‘no follow’ pages that once were ‘do follow’ but have now changed. (a real ‘killer’ this one, especially if you don’t know how to indentify ‘no follow’ pages on Blogs and Forums etc”

    Well if you don’t know how to tell a dofollow link from a nofollow one go learn it or use SEO SpyGlass or any other SEO tool you like to show you which links are dofollow. Besides, nofollow links from traffic-heavy sites can bring a lot of targeted visitors to your site and are often even more useful than nofollowed ones.


    Yes it’s not easy, but no one said it would be. Yes you need to learn things and do things. But if you just sit there and whine about how hard it is you’ll never get anywhere.

    avatar Collection agencies says:

    We have used this method for over a year. Its great practice and has helped our site out a lot. great advise

    avatar Toy Man says:

    Thank you Richard Gilmore, and Christopher Stephens your comments are helpful and you both have valid points.

    Richard Gilmore, your comments are full of thought. Thanks for spreading the word.

    avatar DIY Conservatories Chris says:

    Whilst I can agree to the point above regarding ‘good’ content. It is an unfortunate situation that ‘links’ do seem to count, particularly with regard to Google. Having used the link function myself after finding out about it my site has leapt from languishing around page 13 for my preferred keywords to an amazing page 5 in only 2 weeks.

    It is key to have quality content, but I think everyone should understand, that it is a combination of many SEO methods that will put you ahead.

    avatar Teeth Whitening says:

    Great post.Keep sending us this type of post.

    avatar Andy says:

    All the above information is really great, but the one thing you need to have is lots of time and when running a small business this is hard to find.

    Personally I have found quality links quite hard to gain, but I get lots of offers for me to pay for them, maybe I need to keep trying!

    avatar jucick says:

    nothing really outstanding.
    but this info is cognitive for newbies for sure

    I am trying to work out if this is an advert for seo spyglass or not. Still think good old fashioned hard work is best for building links

    am trying to work out if this is an advert for seo spyglass or not. Still think good old fashioned hard work is best for building links

    avatar Bizito says:

    Interesting how after so many years, links still remain extremely important for seo and online success.

    Creating the Genuine content for page of your website you must do hard work on research for creating content of good quality that can be easily accepted by mass users & that must also be of some use to them in their respective regards.
    Finding raw material , grabbing & Mixing , Shuffling may find you a good content but you must do check that the content may not be plagiarized,
    Following these guides will surely take you one step forward for you success,
    Have a good Day

    avatar Ajay says:

    I think we should concentrate at own website instead of competitor.

    Links are what made the internet so they will remain the cornerstone for ranking on search engines, trust and authority

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