Of course, not all backlinks are equally valuable. As much as possible, you want to get links from websites that have good editorial practices and a real community of avid followers. You also need to look at such factors as the site’s Domain Authority and Trust Flow scores. Most of all, you have to make sure that you prospect sites that are relevant or thematically similar to your landing page.
Newbie SEOs often struggle to find relevant websites that are also willing to link to them. This is especially true if they only use basic search engine functions to find these sites.
If you look for link prospects this way, chances are the sites that do show up on search engine results pages (SERPs) will be competitors, large corporate websites, and major web institutions like Wikipedia — all of whom will be very unlikely to give you any backlinks.
Fortunately, finding viable link prospects on Google Search is easier when you use search operators. Search operators are special commands that you can enter into search bars that filter the SERPs in different ways. Using the right search operators can greatly simplify the link prospecting process and make it much easier to find relevant websites with cooperative webmasters to boost your site’s backlink profile.
3 Google Search Operators All SEOs Need to Know
Google Search has around 42 or so publicly-available search operators but only a handful are needed for backlink prospecting. Here, we’ll teach you how we use these special commands to streamline our link prospecting activities. Check out our video starting at 3:20 to visually follow our processes.
Using this operator lets you find URLs with specific words or phrases in the title tag. In our example at 4:11, we typed in ‘intitle:1440p monitor’ to bring up pages that had ‘1440p monitor’ in the title tag.
Intitle is an especially useful operator because meta title tags are usually written in a way to tell both human searchers and search engine bots the subject of a specific webpage. If a page’s meta title contains a specific keyword, it’s likely to be relevant to that keyword or topic. If the website has a pattern of writing on the same or similar topics, then there is a good chance that it may be a decent link prospect.
You can investigate potential prospects further by adding modifiers to your query. ‘Write for us’ and similar phrases are often used to indicate that a site readily accepts guest posts, so you can include those phrases in quotes to narrow your search.
For instance, you can try ‘“write for us” intitle:1440p monitor’ to pull up only pages with the words ‘1440p monitor’ in the title tag that also contain the word string ‘write for us’ in the content. Using double quotation marks instructs Google to look for exact matches.
Note that while you can easily find prospects this way, you will still need to look up the site’s Domain Authority, Trust Flow, and other relevant metrics to find out if the prospect is a good one for your link building campaign.
This search operator allows you to find pages with a specific word, phrase, or character string in their URL slug and base. It can be used in a way similar to the intitle operator.
In our example at 10:44, we typed in ‘inurl:ultrawide-monitors’. Notice we used a hyphen instead of a space is in the intitle operator, since URLs generally do not have empty spaces.
Similarly to the intitle operator, we could also add modifiers to better narrow down and spot potential link prospects. Again, we looked for the word string ‘write for us’, so we entered ‘“write for us” inurl:ultrawide-monitors’. There’s no need to use a hyphen for ‘write for us’ since we’re just looking for normal mentions of this phrase from any page that contains ‘ultrawide-monitors’ in their URL.
Using inurl: for Local SEO
Outside of link building, the inurl operator can also be used for local SEO. In particular, you can use inurl to filter results by top level domains (also called TLDs or Internet Country Domains). For example, to filter everything but Philippine websites, you can search ‘inurl:.com.ph‘.
Starting at 14:35, we searched for UK-based fashion websites by typing in ‘“fashion” inurl:.co.uk‘. We then narrowed it down to those that accept guest posts by typing in ‘“fashion” “write for us” inurl:.co.uk‘.
3) Double Quotation Marks (“ ”)
You can also just use double quotation marks in Google Search to find potential link prospects. Double quotes can be used to indicate words that need to be kept together as an exact phrase. For example, searching “SEO services Philippines” should return just pages that have those words in that order.
You can also use multiple sets of words in double quotations to find link prospects. In our example in 19:19, we searched ‘“Korean fashion” “write for us”’ to find link prospects that write about Korean fashion topics and also accept guest posts.
Note that when you do this kind of search, the results are not geography-specific and not always as relevant as what you would get by using inurl or intitle.
In link building, anything that you can do to quickly filter out irrelevant websites and unaccommodating webmasters is a good thing. Small efficiency savings in link building tend to scale very well and add value to the business simply because of the amount of resources link building campaigns require.
These are not the only Google Search operators that you can use to narrow down link prospects. However, these three basic operators are the ones we use time and time again to find link prospects that are both thematically relevant to our landing pages and open to guest post requests.
To learn more about how we prospect high-value websites, read Effective Link Outreach Guide for High-DA Websites and The Degrees of Backlink Relevance.