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RIP Google link: operator

     
10:19 am on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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i recently saw a FB post about this by bill hartzer.
not sure when the link: search operator stopped working, but now it essentially works as if the colon is a blank

there is no mention of the link operator in the google doc.
Refine web searches - Search Help:
https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433 [support.google.com]

john mu confirmed it in a tweet last week:
@bhartzer @methode @rustybrick Things change over time. AFAIK that's no longer live in search.

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/819209116694548480 [twitter.com]
(thanks to engine for the link to the tweet)
11:15 am on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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phranque, thanks for posting this. Thus endeth an era... though the operator had been fading for quite some time.
there is no mention of the link operator in the google doc.
There's another change as well in the Search Help doc which tells me it's got to be gone, and that is that links are no longer appearing in the info: operator.

Previous notes about the info: operator also include the link operator in the third line of specs...
Google can show you the following information for this URL:

- Show Google's cache of www.example.com
- Find web pages that are similar to www.example.com
- Find web pages that link to www.example.com
- Find web pages from the site www.example.com
- Find web pages that contain the term "www.example.com"

Currently, on a few tests I ran, info: includes no link: operator results. I confess that I've never found the info: operator compelling.

There was a time, though, many years ago, when the link: operator was useful... but little by little its utility was removed... and then most of the useful information was shifted to Webmaster Tools (now the Google Search Console), where competitors wouldn't have access.

Hard to say whether this suggests a gradual deprecation of links, or simply Google's desire not to have backlink information available to a site's competitors.

11:46 am on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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As Robert said, this has been unreliable for some time and results were suitable obfuscated to make it difficult to know of its accuracy. Because of that apparent inaccuracy i'm glad to see it has been retired entirely.
5:29 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It used to be a brilliant tool, but in recent times it's usefulness, and even functionality have been reduced. It reminds me of "back in the day" when there was a page that outranked you. That tool would point out their links and you just targeted these sites for link request emails lol.

Mack.
5:47 pm on Jan 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Aw man. That operator made us so much when it would only work for PR4s or better. Bulk checking deleted domains against results. Before the registrars decided they could auction off deleteds. I could never understand how the expiring domains became theirs to profit from.
2:01 pm on Jan 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It was worthless from the start. Never had any accuracy.. and now that links are "essentially" worthless, who needs it..
4:31 pm on Jan 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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certainly not worthless from the start, it was a useful tool back in the medieval days.

Mack.
5:14 pm on Jan 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's been years since I've used the link operator. There are better ways of locating links.

One less reason to use Google but an opportunity for another search engine. For awhile it looked like Blekko was going capitalize on that opening to win the hearts and habits of search marketers (influencers) but they decided to monetize it instead and that died in the water. Another lost opportunity.
8:51 pm on Jan 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member aristotle is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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The old Yahoo Site Explorer was easily the best link checking tool ever. You could enter the URL for any page on any site, and get the most complete list of backlinks available anywhere, ranked in order from best to worst (in Yahoo's evaluation)