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Getting Crafty - Advanced Search Operators to Find the Best Backlinks

I keep seeing virtually the same articles posted on SEO sites that describe using advanced Google search operators to find backlinks, but none get down to actually showing useful examples. Finding backlinks by advanced search operator is something I've been using for the past 5+ years and I can say that it undoubtedly works, especially when consistently acquired over time.

advanced search operators for backlinks

My team and I have built up a list of over 300 of these queries that come in very handy in our quest for links. Below I'll share just a few of these searches that are very specific to link building from popular CMS/blogging platforms and that provide good to moderately good results. Maybe these few will help you find even more crafty variations of your own. You can also read a similar post on building backlinks in social media websites we wote months back:

Elgg Social Networking Websites

Here are a few advanced search operators that can be used to find Elgg-powered websites. Most Elgg social networking websites offer an "About Me" type section that allows contextual links within the paragraph(s). This first method helps finding Elgg-powered sites in Google using the "inurl:" operator and a specific text phrase chunk found on most Elgg password pages:

  • Copy everything in bold and search within Google: inurl:forgotten_password.php "We will send the address of a unique verification page to you via email click"

Direct Google search and Google Image search for "Powered by Elgg" or Elgg badges found on websites. This is a more tedious way to search for Elgg-powered websites but still a worthy method:

Drupal Powered Websites (most allow comments links and/or dofollow)

Targeting Drupal sites with the keyword phrase "home mortgages" with comments turned on and that allow HTML <a> links to be added and are almost always followed:

Want to get more specific and search for the keyword in the title. Try the "intitle:" search operator on for size:

Want to get freaky with it and go the broad route and not including Drupal websites or any specific CMS platform? Just search for sites allowing the <a> HTML tag, which usually means a followed link and brings up endless possibilites:

Laconica - The Open Source Microblogging Tool - You know, like Twitter!

Here is a broader search for non-Laconica websites that is similar to the above query and that have "register" in the URL and also ask for the URL of your website while registering:

b2evolution-Powered Websites

Many b2evolution-powered websites dofollow comment URLs. This snippet below will search for specific snippets of text in the comments section of b2evolution websites:

JobberBase-Powered Websites

If you have a legitimate job posting and want to get the benefit of a good anchor text within the job posting page that's followed, try posting to some JobberBase websites:

If you want a more basic read, you can visit this older pages on finding backlinks with search operators. I'd like to share more within this post, but don't want to give away the farm, so to speak. If you have any crafty methods of scouring for backlinks, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Depending on the popularity of this post, I might post another 10, 15, or 30 other search operators that we've been building over the years. If you want the real deal in link building for your website, then inquire about our link building services.

56 Comments

Anonymous's picture

Garrett (not verified)

April 17th, 2009

Brian, these are awesome!!

I will definitely be linking to this and building out from some of your ideas!

I can only add a couple searches to the pot, in the form of urls:

http://searchengineland.com/getting-links-fro...
http://www.garrettfrench.com/eric-ward-in-sea...

Now... if only there were some way to rank these high-potential link opportunities based on relevance and value... ;D

G

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Brian Gilley's picture

Brian Gilley

April 17th, 2009

It would be interesting to rank these types of queries according to relevance/value. All along it's been a manual process thus far, but at least it tends to get slightly easier if we can drop specific keyword phrases within the search operator, like on one or two of the ones I added above.

These few above are also the tip of the iceburg. I have so many of these that I need to gather them together all in one place.

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Anonymous's picture

Philippe (not verified)

April 17th, 2009

This is a very good post. I like the idea of using such specific google queries to find pages for backlinks. I can't believe you actually have 300 types of those queries... I would be very interested to access them :-)

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Anonymous's picture

mark rushworth (not verified)

April 17th, 2009

although blog comment spam is ill advised, if i can find some sites with genuinely interesting content on which to comment on then ill give these a go :D

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Brian Gilley's picture

Brian Gilley

April 17th, 2009

@Philippe -- I'd like to share more, so I'll wait to see just how popular this post gets, or at least gauge the interest. The 300+ we have compiled have come from several years of work. There are some very nice gems within that list. I don't think I'd share all of them, but perhaps 40 or 50 ;-)

@Mahesh -- You're welcome!

@mark rushworth -- I totally agree. We prefer to use a combination of keyword phrases within any of our advanced search queries to find relevant posts that we'd like to contribute to or websites to join, such as Elgg-powered websites mentioned above. I often find that after just a short time we can see direct traffic from the sites we post to because the comment is on-topic and people click through to our client's website(s).

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Anonymous's picture

Justin Brooke (not verified)

April 19th, 2009

What you have suggested here are just the peak powerful moves to strengthen your SEO campaign. THis is just a good read.

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Anonymous's picture

Philippe (not verified)

April 20th, 2009

@Brian.
I understand you don't want to give away all your queries! You actually did a lot here already. I guess we should all be a little creative now, and follow the same logic.
I worked on some queries myself since I read your post, and I came up with I think some good ones:

"powered by phpbb" "keyword"
"keyword" blog site:.edu
"keyword" forum site:.edu
"keyword" blog site:.gov
"keyword" forum site:.gov

I realized that possibilities are endless with search operators. I found a specific query as well which trigger exclusively wordpress blogs using KeywordLuv (dofollow blogs).
I also found this page which show the most popular CMS/Blogging platform on the web. It's a great asset to create new search operators using "powered by ...".
I'm not entirely sure which ones have dofollow links comments though. I assumed only Wordpress was nofollow until I found out that comment links from nucleus platform were also Nofollow. Based on the list, do you know which platform dofollow or Nofollow links comment?

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Brian Gilley's picture

Brian Gilley

April 20th, 2009

@Philippe -- Nice! Thanks for the additions. We've used a good number of those before but I'm sure that visitors will find those useful as well. I really like getting into the more specific CMS/forum/bloging platforms and seeing which ones allow followed links. I think there is value there, especially if targeting keywords within the query versus a more broad approach.

We dissected CMSmatrix.org websites and I would recommend sifting through that huge list and finding ones that allow followed links. We spent many, many hours doing this but I think it's paid off.

Thanks again!

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Anonymous's picture

Philippe (not verified)

April 20th, 2009

Thanks for the url CMSmatrix.org Brian. I will definitely spent some time on this and make a proper list of CMS which follow.

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Anonymous's picture

Seo Melbourne (not verified)

April 23rd, 2009

You have revealed one of my favorite link finding techniques. But you have some great twists on it thanks for sharing this valuable information.

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Anonymous's picture

Philippe (not verified)

April 26th, 2009

@Brian
I went through CMS matrix.org, but could not find cms or blogging software which dofollow comments :-(
Even the one you actually gave us on your post. I realised that most of the people are still adding nofollow on their comments (the vast majority).

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Anonymous's picture

Joe (not verified)

April 29th, 2009

Thanks for sharing - I had a little poke around using some of your ideas and there's lots of potential out there.

Cheers

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Anonymous's picture

keep informed (not verified)

May 17th, 2009

Wow... i thank you so much for the tips... it gives me more spirit to build back links

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Anonymous's picture

SEO consultant (not verified)

June 10th, 2009

This is a good share...would like to see your list of 300 though ;)

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Anonymous's picture

sam (not verified)

June 10th, 2009

These are great steps to find do follow backlinks. thanxs for the info and hope we dont spam much to keep them clean

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Anonymous's picture

BackLinks (not verified)

June 11th, 2009

Webmasters, try BackLinkStat.com - Get detailed backlinks report of your site for FREE!

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Anonymous's picture

David Santillan (not verified)

June 12th, 2009

I just want to add that there is amazing software called comment kahuna. Try this and you can almost automate making backlinks.

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Anonymous's picture

Web Design Quote (not verified)

June 15th, 2009

Its a huge list of over 300 of queries. I think your doe a great job. I am looking for some more post.

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Anonymous's picture

David Hopkins (not verified)

July 3rd, 2009

"powered by Mephisto" comment
"powered by subtext"
"Powered by s9y" comment

These are some good ones. I believe they are all dofollow by default. They would be particularly good for Rails, ASP and PHP developers respectively as most/a lot of the sites on those platforms are about those languages.

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Brian Gilley's picture

Brian Gilley

July 3rd, 2009

Thanks David,
Those are pretty nice ones. I have a couple of clients in the Rails development industry. I'll try a few of those out ;-)

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Anonymous's picture

rich (not verified)

July 9th, 2009

had a realyl good look into to this and i think its going to work well for what i need it for optimisation for small business and local areas many thanks.

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Anonymous's picture

Bradley (not verified)

July 14th, 2009

Thanks for sharing this kinf of searching backlinks. I was simply using Yahoo backlinks module. But it is very useful information. I found your blog by "drupal 2009 inurl: comment" query
Buy Ultram online

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Anonymous's picture

rich (not verified)

July 17th, 2009

these seem to be just the power moves of strong area optimisation and not really into depth for good national phases.

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Anonymous's picture

grimmarketer (not verified)

July 19th, 2009

Great ideas. If you really want to build backlinks, though, you should learn how to get it done on autopilot. That's really the only way to get a successful launch. Check out my lens on squidoo to read a report on how to get it done.

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Anonymous's picture

dav (not verified)

August 5th, 2009

i came across few sites last couple of week the sites are only few months old but have over 90k links - is there a software that automatically post anchor text links?

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Anonymous's picture

Nepali Forum (not verified)

September 21st, 2009

Brain, Thanks a lot. I was thinking to buy backlinks but i found that many spams were their. Using this method i can find quality pages and get quality backlinks. This will boost my SERP and pagerank. Once again many many thanks.
I have bookmarked the blog. This information worth more than $1000. I never got this information in paid ebooks also.

Regards
BABA

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Anonymous's picture

Stewart Engelman DNI Services (not verified)

October 13th, 2009

Hello,

I've been trying for months to get Google backlinks by posting to high PR blogs that are relevant to my site. So far I've had no success at all. I'll give your links a try.

Thanks very much for sharing this information.

Best regards, Stu Engelman

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Anonymous's picture

on-page and off-page optimization (not verified)

November 11th, 2009

Can you please suggest some queries related to real estate and real estate software sites? As i have to do back linking for these sites and i have used some queries but still cant find relevant links for back linking. Your advices will be beneficial for me.

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Anonymous's picture

Cristian (not verified)

December 9th, 2009

Do these backlink scouters perform better that independent softwares like SEO Elite, Market Samurai and Traffic Kahuna?

Is this your primary way for actively seaching backlinks?

It's a known fact that Google doesn't show the complete picture of backlinks a website has due to monetary reasons. In my opinion Yahoo does a better job at showing backlink portfolio. What's your opinion on this?

Thanks,
Cristian

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Anonymous's picture

web hosting (not verified)

December 13th, 2009

Great content, love your site.

reply
Anonymous's picture

Link Building Services (not verified)

December 17th, 2009

This was some great information on using search operators. Some of these I've seen, but many I hadn't, like the "Powered by Elgg."

I think you may enjoy this article too. I was pretty floored to see how these guys were using search operators.
http://searchengineland.com/21-link-builders-share-advanced-link-buildin...

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Anonymous's picture

turisuna (not verified)

December 20th, 2009

This is great, I'm usually looking for backlinks from blogengine and SMF, you give me more choices here, thanks :)

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Anonymous's picture

Ginda (not verified)

December 20th, 2009

thanks for sharing,, this is give me a little bit knowledge in SEO,,,

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Anonymous's picture

Thomas (not verified)

December 26th, 2009

Brian everybody else,

Finally I had time to work on finding crafty backlinks, here are my findings:

http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=010363265520675485990:xjmxcyokkls - dofollow blog search

http://www.dofellow.com/ - this software is great and automated, you can submit hundreds of comments a day

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/321 - this firefox addon shows if a link in a site is follow or nofollow, no need to check the page source

And a couple of search queries:

"KEYWORD HERE" "powered by wordpress" "leave a comment" -"no comments"

“KEYWORD HERE” "Remember my personal information" "Notify me of follow-up comments"

In Yahoo: linkdomain:wordpress.org site:edu student blog

I hope it will open up the gates to more queries of Brian's list... Also, I am willing to share more wisdom if I see reciprocity...

Regards,
Thomas

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Anonymous's picture

Toronto SEO Services (not verified)

November 11th, 2010

I tried this for a while searching for sites, forums, blogs that I could post backlinks, and it's harder then it seems. Why don't you get more credit for what you do? It seems like you would have to have a high tolerance of patience. Trying to find places that match your keywords and trying to post a link there. Is there a repository or list of sites that you know are open to add links? Half the time you register for a site and realize there are nofollow or HTML has been turned off or they require 10 or more posts before allowing a link. This job is not for the faint of heart. When you first started what were you averaging a day or hour?

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Anonymous's picture

austin seo (not verified)

December 1st, 2010

you have said to find site is http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=%22Your+URL+will+be+displa... . If I want to search for specific keyword like "iPhone 4GS" what will be the Google query? Please help me in this regards.

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Anonymous's picture

Brack Nathan (not verified)

January 22nd, 2011

The most natural back-links once your site ranks for the keywords your after. Because people will search for the keyword, see your site, and then blog about your website or something along those lines. But, you will also be building natural back-links from people stumbling onto your website the whole time.

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Anonymous's picture

Marek (not verified)

February 6th, 2011

The best what we can find there are Wordpress blogs in .edu and .gov domains. If you can leave a comment there it's great as Google loves these domains. And if the url has a high PR that's even better :)

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Anonymous's picture

Web Design (not verified)

February 7th, 2011

I heard of scrape box that can do the work more easily. Has anyone used it here. please advise.

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Anonymous's picture

priyankar (not verified)

February 28th, 2011

@ Brian :

Relevance : understood... but what do you mean by ranking by value?

Do you mean page rank? Kindly explain.

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Anonymous's picture

Sam (not verified)

February 28th, 2011

Whoa..This is great and with URL ,just amazing. I will definitely look forward to that and will find some quality links.

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Anonymous's picture

thesis papers (not verified)

March 3rd, 2011

This is a very good post. I like the idea of using such specific google queries to find pages for backlinks. I can't believe you actually have 300 types of those queries.

reply
Anonymous's picture

Marketing no google BH (not verified)

March 13th, 2011

Half the time you register for a site and realize there are nofollow or HTML has been turned off or they require 10 or more posts before allowing a link. This job is not for the faint of heart. When you first started what were you averaging a day or hour?

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Anonymous's picture

DeltaSEO | UK SEO Company (not verified)

April 25th, 2011

For my money, SEO is about education.

Whilst the debate will rage on forever more about which is better, I advise my consultants to comment on Nofollow blogs as readily and as seriously as they would comment on a Dofollow blog. Why? Because we want our comments to ADD VALUE and we want our linkbuilding to appear natural to the search engines. We also want the administrator of the blog to (1) authorise the comment and (2) maybe even visit the linked site, BECAUSE IT COULD BE OF INTEREST to them !! Maybe in future they will even provide a link without asking!!

Always go Nofollow whilst getting the crucial Dofollows. Go for BOTH !!

DeltaSEO out !

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Anonymous's picture

seo company canada (not verified)

April 25th, 2011

Another useful advanced search operator is the cache command, this command can be accessed by typing the word cache, followed by a colon, followed by the URL of the page in question. This operator will give you an indication on when the page in question was last cached by Google (it's important to remember here that Google's cache can sometimes take upwards of five days to update). This operator is particularly useful when it comes to looking at your website's crawl rate and whether some of your deeper pages are being given enough attention by the Googlebot. It is also useful when it comes to link building, you can use this operator to get a gauge on how quickly your links may be crawled and subsequently start contributing value to your website.

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Anonymous's picture

Niche Marketing (not verified)

May 9th, 2011

Attracting relevent backlinks is the hard thing. I have certainly discovered a few new things about creating forced links. However, the whole process can be very time consuming. I sometimes feel my time would be better served creating content rather than looking for places to backlink from.

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Anonymous's picture

adward (not verified)

May 27th, 2011

However, the whole process can be very time consuming. Another useful advanced search operator is the cache command, this command can be accessed by typing the word cache, followed by a colon, followed by the URL of the page in question.

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Anonymous's picture

Presença Digital (not verified)

June 17th, 2011

When you first started what were you averaging a day or hour? Half the time you register for a site and realize there are nofollow or HTML has been turned off or they require 10 or more posts before allowing a link. This job is not for the faint of heart.

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Anonymous's picture

Business Reputation Management (not verified)

July 8th, 2011

We have a simple website where we have:
1. Made sure we have good descriptions in meta description and keywords.
2. Created a descriptive title for each page.
3. Created descriptive alt= text.
Are there any other tips for ensuring we get the best attention from the crawlers?[url=http://brandvois.com/]Brand Reputation Management[/url]

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Anonymous's picture

australian college of physical education (not verified)

July 10th, 2011

It would be interesting to rank these types of queries according to relevance/value. All along it's been a manual process thus far, but at least it tends to get slightly easier if we can drop specific keyword phrases within the search operator, like on one or two of the ones I added above.

reply
Anonymous's picture

Seo Consultant (not verified)

July 21st, 2011

At all the people (bots) trying to drop automated comments on an article about querying google with advanced operators to find legitimate link opportunities. Oh, the irony. I can see why you never dropped any more tidbits about these queries based on some of the responses. I was going to share some too until I read the last half the comments. Regardless, thanks for the link to the CMS Matrix, will definitely take a look thru some of the less popular ones and try to un-earth some gems. Nice site too, have bookmarked it and will look through it. <-- not a spam bot comment, no matter how much it might appear.

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Anonymous's picture

Uniquely Crackers (not verified)

May 18th, 2012

A very good post. Just embarking on a link / content programme for my site, submitted to a few of the best (IMHO) directories such as yahoo!, BOTW etc. These string should help me develop a healthy 'all round' link building programme.

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Anonymous's picture

SEO Expert (not verified)

November 26th, 2012

One of the fastest ways to build backlinks and cast your net wider on the Internet is through social media profile building. However, not all profile sites are created equally in terms of SEO value. Some profiles don’t allow any links back to your site while others offer URL links and anchor text.
http://in.linkedin.com/in/professionalseoexpert

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Anonymous's picture

SEO Company UK (not verified)

November 30th, 2012

Great list Brian indeed.
I use a tool soloseo(dot)com/tools/linkSearch(dot)html to search link prospects. It is a great tool to find link opportunities as all the basic search operators are already integrated in it.

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Anonymous's picture

seo company in mumbai (not verified)

December 6th, 2012

Simple ways to improve your Web site's search rankings and get more traffic.

your keyword "powered by wordpress" "leave a comment" site:.com
keyword +"powered by vbulletin"
keyword +"powered by phpbb"
Try this for better backlinks.

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Anonymous's picture

mike (not verified)

February 7th, 2013

Thanks a lot for the awesome method! We can use this to scrape different platforms and do everything that we need from them. I will use this to scrape different websites and comments on them manually, since the stick rate is pretty high.

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