Reverse Searches with Google
Try reverse searches on Google

If your goal, like mine, is to build traffic for your site, then a key component of generating traffic is getting other web sites to link to your web site. This is important for two reasons: 1) it generates traffic for your web site, and 2) it potentially affects your ratings in search engines, and higher ratings can mean more traffic for your site as well.

One nice measure of the usefulness of a web site, pioneered by Google, is to count the number of other web sites that link to it. An authoritative web site on a particular topic will typically have more sites linking to it than other less useful sites that might be classified as being about the same topic.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a tool that could quickly and easily show you who is linking to your web site? As a matter fact, Google provides this feature as an integrated part of their search functionality.

Google provides a reverse search feature that allows you to view which sites link to a particular domain name. To use this search feature, just search for a domain name in Google's regular search field, but with "link:" prefixed to the URL. For example:


When you do a reverse search, make sure that there is a space between "link:" and the domain name you're looking for, otherwise the search is adversely impacted. Hey, it's a quirk in the feature, but the reverse search still works.

Today, after searching on, there were 32 links to my web site in Google's database. Sigh.

Editorial Note: (2010-08-09) That number is a good bit higher today.

Well, I know of some sites that link to my site, but Google obviously hasn't indexed them well either. Clearly, I need to pursue a two-fold path: 1) get more sites to link to my web site, and 2) get my site indexed more effectively by Google (and other search engines). Also, equally clearly, if YOU find my site useful, you should be linking to it (hint, hint).

But the reason I now know that I need to do this is because I was able to get the information from Google's reverse search feature.

There is also another use for reverse searches, and that is to discover who is linking to your competitors. Now, I'm not particularly worried about competitors to After all, there's plenty of room in the blogosphere for other bloggers.

But let's say that you ran an online retail web site that wasn't doing well. You could use a reverse search to discover who is linking to your competitors. Your challenge would then evolve into getting some of those sites to either link to your site as well, or, even better, link to your site instead of the web sites of your competitors.

Interestingly, a number of search engines have made reverse searches available in the past, including Alta Vista. With changes in management, though, that feature seems to often be removed from search engines. Currently, Google seems to be one of the few companies that is tech-savvy enough to keep such a useful feature.


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