Search Operators for SEO Linkbuilding

You can literally lose hours looking for information on a particular topic, hunting for link prospects, a particular type of file, or a certain type of website. You’ll not only have to sift through spam and odd entries that don’t fit the query, but sometimes a normal query just isn’t refined enough to give you what you’re looking for right from the start.

That’s where advanced search operators and combinations come in handy.


With the right combination of search operators and keywords, you’ll never have to dig through the SERPs for the gems again.

Search Operators and How They Work

There are tons of search operators out there, each one refines the search results just a little differently. Here are some of the ones you’ll find you use the most:

  • [“keyword”] – Quotes tells Google to look for that exact word or phrase
  • [keyword] – searches that site for a particular word
  • [keyword] – searches only sites for your keyword
  • [keyword1 -keyword2] – Returns results that include keyword1 but NOT keyword2 (exclude)
  • [keyword1+keyword2] or [“”keyword1 keyword2″”] – only returns results that include the phrase exactly how you typed it
  • [keyword1 OR keyword2] or [keyword1|keyword2] or [keyword1 keyword2 OR keyword3] – Returns results with either of those results. For results that include both keywords, leave out the ‘OR’.
  • [keyword1 * keyword2] – if you’re looking for information, but aren’t quite sure about the terms, you can use a wildcard and Google will return various possibilities. For example, [top * web design companies] also [keyword1*]
  • [~keyword] – Brings up similar terms and synonyms
  • [] or [] – Brings up pages linking to that URL though note Google will only show a small subset of links
  • [inurl:keyword] or [intitle:keyword] or [intext:keyword] or [inanchor:keyword] – Only brings up results with the keyword in the url, title, text, or anchor text

Examples include:

  1. Look for guest blog opportunities for an SEO Consultant – [seo consultant “guest blogger” OR “guest blogger wanted”]
  2. Find blogs in the Irish market related to web design – [intitle:web design inurl:blog]
  3. Find web design sites that are built on wordpress – [intitle:web design “powered by wordpress”]
  4. Looking for a photographer in Ireland – [photographer +Ireland site .ie inurl:blog inurl:photography]
  5. Test out competition in your market – [intitle:web design inanchor:”web design”]


Using Combinations of Search Operators

The search operators listed above do a great job of refining the search results, but if you’re still finding lots of junk, you’ll want to use combinations of the operators listed above.

So, if you want to search for certain types of sites linking to a particular URL, you can use [] or for those using certain anchor text [ inanchor:keyword] or [ inanchor:keyword]

Want to find out who links to other sites, but not yours? Try []

Looking for a place to submit your posts? Try [intext:”submit a new story” intitle:register]

Maybe you want to look for niche directories? Use your keywords with common phrases found on these sites. Try variations of [keyword +”intitle:directory”] and [keyword +”submit url”].

Find Dofollow Blogs

A large number of webmasters and SEOs are always on the hunt for relevant dofollow links. So, how can you find them? Simple! [keyword inurl:ifollow*.gif] or [keyword ifollow*.gif] in Google Image Search will reveal all the relevant blogs using the “U Comment – I Follow” badge. Alt tags leave a footprint. If you go to Google image search and type in your keyword plus “U Comment I follow” with and without quotes you’ll find a list of do follow blogs.

[keyword +”Commentluv Enabled”] or other variations such as [keyword +”Enable Commentluv”] will look for relevant sites with the Comment Luv Plugin. ([keyword +”Comments protected by Lucia’s Linky Love”] works for that plugin too!). [keyword +”last blog post”] will help you find blogs that post a link to your last blog post (not necessarily dofollow). You can do the same with press releases by using [keyword intitle:press +release “allowed html tags”]. Use [keyword +”KeywordLuv”] for the Keyword Luv plugin. You could also come up with a search to scout for the “Top Commentators” plugin.

There are many more options out there and it’s always best to test them out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Ann Smarty has a great piece on using the Google wildcard operator for link building and a good collection of link building search queries as well.

Other reading includes:

Advanced Search Operators Are Not Just For Link Building and SEOs

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for information, working on a school project, or simply looking to satisfy your curiosity, advanced search operators and footprints are a great way to find what you need without wasting time.

Simply by using the right combination, you can find virtually anything without having to dig. What combinations have you found helpful?

18 Responses to “Search Operators for SEO Linkbuilding”

  1. Paul AnthonyNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Michael, great roundup of some of the techniques you can use on Google. I only recently discovered the intext: operator and find it invaluable on my everyday searches.

    I’d also add that the guys at Ontolo (a canadian linkbuilding company) have created a great little tool for helping with these queries. Check it out.

  2. Dave DavisNo Gravatar Says:

    Great post Michael, some really interesting stuff there. A lot of operators I hadn’t have thought of. Bookmarked for sure.

    Are you coming down for the BTW this month? It’s been like 2 years (I think).

    PS: You should add a retweet button to your blog template.

  3. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    @Paul – Thanks for the link. Haven’t forgotten about that night out, just up to my neck in it. Will get something organised.

    @Dave – pity it’s on a School night. If it was the weekend then I’d maybe pop down.

  4. matthew@uk business franchisesNo Gravatar Says:

    Excellent post – I have become quite the expert at looking for dofollow comment allowing blogs etc but a few of your refined search ideas I have not tried yet so hopefully they come up with something nice.

    All the best,


  5. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I enjoy your posts on the UK business forum.
    Please feel free to add any tips you want!


  6. HannahNo Gravatar Says:

    Great article! Thanks!

    You can also do something along the lines of:

    inurl:blog “keyword 1” OR “keyword 2” “post a comment” -“you must be logged into post a comment” -“comments closed”

    This way you can refine your search to exclude the large majority of sites which you would be unable to comment on. 🙂

  7. Louise McCartanNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks for that Michael. It’s a handy article to refer back to 🙂

  8. Franchise UKNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks Michael. Some great info here especially on the dofollow blog research. Using combinations of the operators above means you can really drill down to get to exactly the results you want.


  9. JoseNo Gravatar Says:

    Thank you Michael. I am noob but it’s exactly what i needed. Try operators to find blogs on which post comments like this one Web:. edu inurl: blog “post a comment” – “comments closed” -”you must be logged in”

  10. web designing companyNo Gravatar Says:

    hi sir,
    (You can copy this list to an excel spreadsheet or edit pad text editor & replace “keyword” with your targeted phrase)

    Every once in some time & depending on what website I’m working on, I’ll use different search operators to find elementary links relevant to the keywords I’m targeting on the SERP’s. there’s loads of search engine query cheat sheets & SEO Blogs that give immense list of search operators to make use of when doing link building. So I’ve composed a list of all the search queries I could find to help you build a pleasant list of relevant sites to get backlinks from.

    But check this out, all of these search operators can be used together. You can mix them up. You can use 2 of them, 5 of them or even all of them (for keywords like web, site, page etc. ;).

    * add comment “keyword”
    * allinanchor:keyword
    * allintext:keyword
    * allintitle:keyword
    * allinurl:keyword
    * listing keyword
    * favorite links keyword
    * favorite sites keyword
    * intext:keyword
    * site:org
    Imagine you are a webmaster for a hotel in new york city & you’re looking for more ways to get links from sites relevant to yours. Here are a few examples & explanations of how link building search queries would look in case you mixed them up & played around with them.

  11. hotel reservations onlineNo Gravatar Says:

    Really cool list of search queries.!I noticed search engine algorithms are like mathematical formula…for example if you want to search a site but their is a lot of PDF files in the results you can add a search term like this “-pdf”..

  12. JeffNo Gravatar Says:

    Wow. What a great post Michael!! You listed at least 5 different operators that I’ve never used before. Great information. Definitely bookmarked. Thanks!

    Take care,


  13. SEO company perthNo Gravatar Says:

    I search as: blog”keyword”+”post a comment”

  14. DanNo Gravatar Says:

    don’t forget yahoo’s equivalent of intext:keyword is inbody:keyword (if i rememebr correctly)

  15. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    thanks for the tip Dan.

  16. twittnotNo Gravatar Says:

    Great post Michael, some really interesting stuff there. A lot of operators I hadn’t have thought of. Bookmarked for sure.

  17. SEO NationalNo Gravatar Says:

    You got a great list Michael! I never heard some of the operators that you mentioned. I will be checking them soon.

  18. GarnerNo Gravatar Says:

    For me I am still gutted that the ~ tilde operator was scrapped for synonym searching. I understand Hummingbird is great at bringing up synonyms in the context of the overall search string but I want to be able to do this as I used to.

Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced SEO based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own SEO Agency.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 923383 or use the contact form.

Google Partner

Popular Posts

SEO training in Belfast