One of the important aspects of any SEO service is link discovery and management, and typically, SEOs have used a special search operator from Google to find these links. This operator used the format of
Although this operator was historically useful, it has become less and less useful for SEOs and webmasters over time. On top of that, Google has said to webmasters on a number of occasions that they should be using the Google Search Console link report for better link discovery because the link operator only shows a “sample” of a site’s links.
It was noticed last week by Bill Hartzer that the link operator stopped functioning for a number of large sites, including [link:www.google.com]. But, it did/does work for other large sites, like [link:www.yahoo.com].
Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, told everybody on Twitter that the link operator wasn’t removed:
— Gary Illyes (@methode) February 12, 2016
Check out the following screen shot that shows it not working for a link command on google.com:
Here is what it looks like when a link command works (in this case, for yahoo.com):
At this point, it seems that Google has no more to say on the matter, above what Gary Illyes already said on Twitter.