One of the common things I see in SEO discussions is “links” and how they might affect SERP position.
I decided to do some testing in hope that I might see whether or not backlinks seem to have an effect on SERP position.
If I remember correctly, in the past the correct use was to search for
links:example.com (with an “s”)
But looking around the Google documentation now, all I have found is
link: without an “s” so there is a better than good chance my memory is incorrect.
Anyway, it seems this search modifier is broken or no longer kept up to date, or I’m doing it wrong.
I realize that Google never claimed such search results would have “all pages”, but I have seen inconsitencies and differences that go far beyond what I would consider to be within a “margin of error”
Note that I am not logged in to my Google account and I have cleared browser cookies before each search to reduce the possibility that previous searches might be influencing results.
A search for
link:www.sitepoint.com gives me “did not match any documents” yet a search for
link:meta.discourse.org gives me “About 21 results (0.79 seconds)”
It gets even more perplexing when add the
My understanding is that these can be used to filter results to “only this site” and “only not this site”
link:meta.discourse.org site:meta.discourse.org gives “About 1,610 results (0.42 seconds)”
link:meta.discourse.org -site:meta.discourse.org gives “About 234,000 results (0.66 seconds)”
If link is all pages that link to the domain, site is pages with internal links and -site is pages that link to the domain from external sites, the numbers not only don’t add up, they don’t even come anywhere near to being close to adding up.
If I search for
links:meta.discourse.org (with an “s”) I get “About 958,000 results (0.47 seconds)”
My guess is that Google puts more emphasis on checking backlinks from Webmaster Tools, and that what I’m seeing suggests how little importance backlinks now have on SERP positioning.