How To Use Weird Google Search Strings To Get Impossible Backlinks
There is a school of though that says that you must spy on your competition when looking for backlink prospects. If you get the same backlinks as your competitor, you'll get the same, or similar, ranking as your competitor.
Not so fast. It doesn't really work that way, despite what your SEO company tells you. There may be many reasons that your competition is ranking higher than you in the search engine results pages. Your competition could have better site structure, or more pages with more content. Your competitor could also have better internal linking than your site. Aside from all of that, what if your competition is engaging in dirty blackhat techniques? Are you willing to copy your competition so much so that you end up going down with him when someone snitches on his unethical linkspam tactics?
When you normally spy on your competition, you are usually told to use simple Google search operators to see who is linking to your competition's site. You could have also used Yahoo Site explorer, before Bing took them over. Now you have to use Bing webmaster tools. Entering your competition's site into site explorer or using simple search operators like "link:yourcompetition.com" will give you some information about your competition.
However, if you've ever tried to do this, you know that Google limits your search query to 1,000 sites. That may seem like a lot of sites, but not all of those sites will be viable link prospects. on top of that, you may not be able to get a backlink from the ideal candidates in that list. That search operator can also make things pretty tedious and mind-numbing.
Segment Your Search Results
Instead of getting specific with your linkbuilding campaign, try broadening your search. Ironically, you'll end up finding better link prospects this way. By using the "link:" search operator, you get a wide range of websites. It's great for spying on your competitors, but why not get great links that your competition doesn't have yet? Don't set your competition as the standard to match (or beat). Become the standard by getting otherwise "impossible" backlinks.
Positive Search Operators
Use positive search operators to focus your search on a wide range of websites that link out to sites in your niche. What's a positive search operator? It's a search operator that is inclusive of data that isn't contained in the original search. For example, if you search for "submit a link" or "resources" then you'll come up with sites that include this somewhere on the site. The thought here is that if a website has this kind of headline or section, then they are actively accepting links. Submit your site, and see what happens.
You could use other positive search segmentation tactics, however, to find good prospects. Suppose you wanted websites within a specific niche. You could include that niche in your search. You could also search for content management software like Wordpress or Drupal.
Finally, you can search for defunct sites like Geocities. These kinds of sites contain a plethora of links. The problem is that, often, the site is either now a 404 page or it's not been updated since 1997. You can scoop up these valuable backlinks by contacting the sites that are linking to the dead site. Start writing, emailing, or even calling the companies (yes, use the phone) who are linking to the dead site. If you've hit a 404 page, just drop that sucker into the way-back machine to find out what used to be there and contact the companies linking to the page.
Negative Search Operators
Sometimes, it's not what you include that matters, but what you exclude. Excluding certain search terms like "SEO" lets you weed out SEO-specific websites. Negative operators are especially helpful for finding "impossible" backlinks. Since Google only displays the first 1,000 results, using negative search operators allows you to peek behind the 1,000 site "search wall." If your niche isn't very SEO-savvy, you'll get backlinks that your competitors will never get.
For example, many amateur backlink builders chase blog comments, but you can weed out a lot of blogs by using the negative search operator "-site:blogspot.com" for example. This allows you to eliminate blogspot blogs from the search results. You can do the same thing for free Wordpress sites. Since free blogs are unlikely to yield good backlinks, you may want to just get rid of these kinds of sites (which are prone to spam anyway) in your search results.
When you eliminate free blogs and any other sites that you don't think would be valuable to you, you end up getting nice, cherry-picked, prospects that your competition would never even think of getting. In fact, if they're using normal search operators, they won't even see the websites that you are seeing.
How To Simplify These Advanced Search Tactics
The Internet is filled with SEO companies with alleged proprietary SEO strategies, backlink campaigns that look more like black magic than a systematic business model, or outright "blackhat" SEO strategies that would make many of the folks trolling blackhatworld.com blush. Somehow, no one seems to see the obvious.
Google has provided us with the tools we need to find backlink prospects for free: http://www.google.com/advanced_search. You don't need to engage in shady tactics or buy expensive "blackbox" SEO services that make tracking results impossible.
If you're willing to put in a little time, Google has made it far simpler for you to find good link prospects. If you don't want to put in the time, then this is something you can farm out to someone else. Maybe you can hire a local high school kid to do the manual work for you of gathering all of the websites. You could also hire a staff member in-house to do the manual labor of combing through sites. It shouldn't be too tedious since you can weed out all of the undesirables with those advanced search operators.
When you're ready to contact your backlink prospects, use someone in-house or do this job yourself. If you are persistent, and willing to do just a little bit more work than your competition is doing, the results could pay dividends in short order.