A Trick To See Your Competitors Links Within Google Webmaster Tools?

Dan Petrovic documented a competitive link hack that can easily been done within Google Webmaster Tools to find all the links pointing to any page on the internet. It is a competitive link hack that seems to work just fine for anyone.

The hack takes advantage of the intermediate link feature within webmaster tools. Without getting too technical, you are tricking Google into thinking your page is a duplicate of a competitors page. Then Google is taking the duplicate version and merging it (on some level) with the competitors page. Since they are merged, Google will show you the links pointing to all the duplicate pages in one report here.

If this indeed works, which is seems to – you can use this to potentially learn about all the links pointing to any of your competitors pages. Someone Google specifically does not want, since they do not provide an open competitive link tool.

I’ve emailed Google for a comment on this and will update the story as soon as I hear back. See also the related story that came out of Petrovic’s research, that duplicating pages from a web site might allow people to “hijack” listings:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central | Link Building: General

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.brettburky.com/ brettburky

    That sounds extremely interesting. I’m going to try it today. Thanks

  • http://www.949local.com/ Jim Froling

    Jeez, Barry. You emailed Google about this? Well, I’m sure this is (or was) a pretty neat trick for as long as it lasted. Which shouldn’t be long now… :(

  • MarisaBrayman

    I just came down here to say the same thing. Now they’re going to get rid of it!

  • http://twitter.com/SeanDawes Sean Dawes

    Why would you email Google for a comment? Basically like telling on someone. Adds no value other at all but rather loses any real value that was available with this hack.

  • http://twitter.com/thejosetinto Jose Tinto

    Oh you emailed Google to comment on this!!? You sound like that smart kid in the school who complain about others and try to be the favourite of the teachers. :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/altamashazhar Altamash Azhar

    hahaha

  • Steven Lockey

    You seriously Don’t want Google to fix it?

    Thats great till it happens to your site!

  • imageworks

    Well obviously the posting about this is also the end of it. But I didn’t know about it anyways! So thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/electmedia Elect Media Llc

    Well you can imagine every 3rd party seo spy developer would have emailed them eventually as well.

  • http://twitter.com/Jehochman Jonathan Hochman

    When discovering an exploit it is traditional in the web security community to notify the targeted company so they can fix the problem, rather than outing them immediately. Dan Petrovic needs to learn to be responsible instead of grandstanding for lots of free publicity. There’s a phrase for such behavior, but it’s not very nice, so I can’t say it.

    (SEL is doing nothing wrong. As a news company it is their duty to report the facts.)

  • daveintheuk

    You are lucky you CAN email Google. I have frequently found bugs in their software (granted not as serious as this), but – unlike any normal company – they don’t provide contact details (have you ever tried calling their switchboard?!). Sure I could post in their public forums, but that isn’t a responsible way to report bugs is it.

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