In last week’s post I mentioned that good link builders had to consistently add new strategies to their link building mix. I was really surprised, however, to find out that a lot of people (especially clients) have very little knowledge about link building PERIOD; if at all. Even more puzzling was that this response wasn’t an anomaly!

It ALMOST seems like a standard in the industry…the mysterious link builder…hiding behind closed doors…where do they get all those quality links? How can I get some of those much sought after links for my client?

The answer to this old-age question is surprisingly simple. They have to SEARCH for them just like anything else. Now you can’t just type in “find good links” or “buy links” into Google or Yahoo, unless of course you want some really bad links that will probably do more harm than good. This is where the power of search queries comes into play.


The tools and queries I am about to discuss are targeted towards the novice link builder and the client that has very little knowledge about the powerful role that link building plays within SEO. Part 2 of this series will look at some of the more advanced search queries that can help you find everything from .edu and .gov links to high-quality and niche-relevant do-follow blogs that you can comment on.

One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of SEO and link building is competitive analysis. Sure most SEO's and link builders check to see how competitive their targeted keyword is, but do they investigate WHY a competitor is ranking well and HOW they can beat them? Usually not… well this is the FIRST process I use when setting up a new link building campaign for a client. Here’s how I do it…

1.) Use Yahoo! Site Explorer

Yahoo! Site Explorer is probably hands down the easiest, fastest, and cheapest (100% Free) way to check the number of links coming to your site. You can either go to Yahoo! and enter in this query: (replace your domain with "yourwebsite")

Or you can go straight to Yahoo! Site Explorer. After you type in your URL you will need to make a couple changes in order to see the number of links. At the top of the page, simply click on "Inlinks" - "Only this domain". Then from the drop-down boxes select "Except from this domain" and "entire site"... and VOILA!

2.) Export Results to a Bulk Page Rank Checker

The next step in the process is to export the Yahoo! Site Explorer Results into a bulk page rank checker. I have personally tried over twenty bulk page rank checkers and the best free PR checker I came across is available here.

This tool allows you to check the PR's of up to 100 URL's within a matter of seconds. There are many other bulk page-rank checkers available so do a little research if you don't like this one. I use it because it's the fastest one I came across: some can do up to 500 at a time but it takes forever and remember, TIME=MONEY.

Now in order to get your Yahoo! Site explorer results into the bulk page rank checker you will need to export the results to Excel- at the top right of the page you'll see a button to Export Results to TSV- click it and then open up the results in Excel.

3.) Find their High Authority Links

Once you've entered in the first 100 URL's scroll down to find out where your competitor's high PR links are coming from. If you know what to look for you can quickly find out a lot about your competition: what directories they submitted too, whether or not they are internally linking within their own site(s), and most importantly: where they are getting the majority of their backlinks from.

But don't just stop after the first 100 links. I usually like to do around a 1,000 or so (on average= not all sites have this many and some have WAY more) to get a really good feel of what type of strategies my competitor's are using.

This helps me evaluate how to best allocate my budget and time when it comes to formulating a link building campaign for a new client or new keyword. Now I know this is a pain-staking process, but it's one of the most effective techniques to initiate a link building-campaign from the ground up.

4.) Get the Same High Quality Links, and MORE!

Now that you see where all their high quality links are coming from= TRY TO GET THE SAME LINKS! If they are ranking well (first page) then their link building strategy has obviously been working so why wouldn't you try to get the same links? You can submit to the same directories as well as long as they haven't been penalized by Google.

The best part of this strategy is that you can really target the strategies that your competitor's aren't implementing. So by using a combination of their successful link building strategies along with your own successful strategies you can be assured that your new client/keyword will get some great results much sooner than expected!

Keep in mind that this is just the BASICS!!! There are literally hundreds of SEO and link building tools and software programs available. Some are really great, and some are just a big waste of money when there are a plethora of free tools readily available on the web. Just because some of these tools are free doesn't mean they aren't effective; in fact it's usually the opposite scenario.

Don't forget that the strategies mentioned in this post are both free, user-friendly, and can certainly provide an in-depth analysis of your competition's link building strategies for you to emulate and capitalize off of. As promised, next week will be part 2 of this two-part series where I will be examining more complex search queries that will really get you advanced link builders out there excited again!

Paul Teitelman

I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.

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30 Responses to “The Power of Search Queries for Link Building: The Basics and Beyond Part 1”

  1. Amaan Goyal says:

    excellent insight and quality information. You have covered the basics and provide quality analysis and provided the key- competition analysis.

  2. carol says:

    Excellent information presented in a format I can use and equally important,I can understand.

    Thank you.

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great post running parallel with last weeks post as well.

    Link building has always been something that provokes a response from myself so looking forward to next weeks post with earnest :)

  4. Wii Boy says:

    I've never quite taken it as far as 1,000 links but do use Site Explore and SEO For Firefox Plugin to look at competitors top PR links.

    The bulk PR checker is a useful tool though, thanks.

  5. this is a great way to search for links and build links. i use this technique often

  6. […] process I use when setting up a new link building campaign for a client. Here’s how I do it… The Power of Search Queries for Link Building: The Basics and Beyond Part 1 | Search Engine People B… Link Building […]

  7. Meethere says:

    Good article
    But how to get the same high quality links? You mean links from same sites which competitor got ?

  8. Paul says:

    @Amaan,Carol,Steve… glad you enjoyed the tips!

    @Paul… Thanks a lot next week's post will be a nice wrap up to the other posts so I'm glad to see that you're excited for it! Great name by the way :)

    @Wiiboy… I don't often check all the way up to 1,000 links: it depends on how many links the competition has. But sometimes you just got to do what ya 'gotta do.

    @Meethere… That's right the same links. But make sure that you don't just target all their links you need to focus on their high authority links.

  9. This is top class advise and I offer my sincere appreciation and thanks. Looking forward to more such posts.

  10. RedEvo says:

    Nice article although I'm not sure how effective it would be to simply chase the same links as your competitors. On paper is stacks up, in reality there are many 'special relationships' going on behind the scenes that secured those links in the first place. Happy to be proved wrong though.

    One thing I would say is, if you install SEOQuake for Firefox (or IE) all the donkeyt work is done for you. Search Google, see results with PR, page links and domain links. Click on the page links number and viola, Yahoo SiteExplorer opens up with all the links which you can then order into PR high to low.

    Hope this isof some use.


  11. Joey Ross says:

    Thanks for the post.
    I always love tips that are down to basics. Explained very well, for us non-techy guys. Will look for next post.
    Great pr rank tool. It all helps.

  12. Paul says:

    @comparison shopping/joey… Thanks guys glad you found the information helpful. I purposely take the non-techy approach but be warned because Part 2 is all-techy but I'll do my best in simplifying it down to a language that even an SEO noob can understand.

    @RedEvo… I obviously agree with you when you say don't just go after all their links. That's why you need a tool like the bulk page rank checker so you can quickly see the high authority links you should be targeting.

    In terms of the "special relationships" you mentioned. Well yes sometimes, but it's extremely rare for a site owner to have a preference over one company/client over another, especially if they are both niche-relevant, provide good content and are family friendly. You need to focus on your value proposition in this case: it's not like they decided to give a link to your competitor because they dislike your company or client.

    As for SEOQuake it is a useful tool but I don't personally like it that much but as I mentioned in the post there are so many free SEO tools out there it just takes a little bit of time and research to find the right tools for you. To each their own right?

  13. Paul says:

    Here's another useful and more advanced backlink checker. It allows you to see the PR of each link right away as well as the anchor texts and more. Be warned that it is slow but the information is definitely useful. Here's the link:

  14. Alex says:

    Do you think from your experience that PR checker is a must tool? I have read that Y! Explorer lists most important links first.

  15. Paul says:

    @Alex… Checking the PR of your competitor's links is 100% an absolute must in any competitive analysis.

    In terms of Yahoo! site explorer I've noticed that sometimes they show the most recent links first but I haven't found a consistent pattern with their results by any means.

  16. Utah SEO says:

    A lot of SEOs instantly think, "Where can i find a tool?" when all they need to do is be a bit creative and think outside the box.

  17. Gemma says:

    The backlinks checker available at strikes me as being easier to interpret simply because it groups results by domain. Therefore, if I have 5 inward links coming from, it presents those links in a row. It is easier to read, but perhaps others will spot a downside to viewing or presenting links in this way?

  18. Eva White says:

    Quite interesting and informative. Shall be checking out this page rank tool. Hope its as good as you say it is.

  19. Petitehye says:

    Excellent tips. I am sure they will work for me, I just have to apply them…

  20. […] I know a lot of our readers are hyped for this post after I promised in Part 1 that I would reveal search queries that would help you find .edu and .gov backlinks as well as […]

  21. Portland SEO says:

    I thought I'd catch up by reading this article before moving onto part two. This is a great article. It should be very helpful for anyone struggling with link building. I actually found your blog by usint Yahoo's site explorer tool. You link to one of my competitors.

  22. Nice basics of links and link building. Links are the backbone of the internet, and search engines use them to determine the authority and popularity of your website. Anybody who is serious about the internet needs to learn these basics.

  23. […] I undergo a aggregation of our readers are hyped for this locate after I promised in Part 1 that I would expose wager queries that would hold you encounter .edu and .gov backlinks as […]

  24. Great post..This is definitely a great starting point for link building. I am also surprised that people still think the best way to improve rank is to keyword stuff meta tags and hide keywords in the page, rather than building links.

  25. So the idea goes on. If you do have the time, analyze your top 3 competitors and perform the above tasks to filter out all the quality links that they are getting. try getting the same links from all top 3 competitors. Do not rush, let Google absorb slowly.

  26. […] The Power of Search Queries for Link Building: The Basics and Beyond Part 1 […]

  27. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Thank you for this great tip. Working on it right away.

  28. Gregor says:

    Superb. SiteExplorer is such a handy tool. Aggregating the results is eye opening too – try it!

  29. great blog post, actually i refresh again and back to the basic SEO. i know scouting your competitors tactics, but i want to know more deep seo. thanks, i found this blog

  30. Paul says:

    These posts rule! What a great series of useful information.