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Using the "link:" Operator on a 301’d Domain

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 10:58 pm

When you use the link: operator to search on a domain that is 301’d to a different domain, Google pulls up results for the target URL. For example, let’s say you own and you set it to redirect to If you try to do a quick search to see if there are any sites still linking to — let’s say you wanted to contact them to change the link to point directly to your new URL — Google shows you a list sites that link to both and

So you open up and view the source of page after page after page and there’s no mention of XYZ anywhere.

There’s no way to isolate who’s linking to the old site using the link: operator.

The reverse would make sense — include in the backlinks a list of all pages with links that somehow end up on that page — that makes sense because you could presumably see everything that is passing PageRank to the target page.

But for the query “” to show me a list of pages linking to ABC, just because XYZ happens to redirect there doesn’t really make sense to me. After all, it’s possible those two domains aren’t even controlled by the same people and neither the target page, nor anyone linking to it, has anything at all to do with the redirecting page (i.e.,

I’m trying to see who’s linking to a certain page using the link operator. None of the pages in the results point to that page. Am I missing something obvious?

This probably is a whole lot clearer with some diagrams or screenshots – I’ll see about posting an update over the holidays.

Oh yeah… and happy holidays!

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