Microsoft Blocks Advanced Search Queries

Microsoft has disabled some of the functionality of their search engine due to excessive resource demands caused by automated queries.

Live Search’s WebLog : We are flattered, but…

“For those of you who use some of the advanced query syntax in our search engine such as link:, linkdomain: and inurl:, you may have noticed that this functionality has been recently turned off. We have been seeing broad use of these features by legitimate users but unfortunately also what appears to be mass automated usage for data mining. So for now, we have made the tough call to block all queries with these operators.”

I can’t blame them for addressing automated queries. Robots can chew up a lot more resources than humans, and they don’t click (or even see) ads on the results pages. However, couldn’t Microsoft come up with a more human friendly way of addressing this, such as throttling the number of searches per day to a human-capable value?

For those of you not familiar with the above queries, here is a quick explanation:

link: shows you all of the pages linking to the page you specify, so:
[link:http://www.technologyevangelist.com]
will show you all of the pages linking to the homepage of Technology Evangelist. This is a popular one for search engine optimizers to use for competitive research. Looks up your competitor’s sites to find linking opportunities for your own.

linkdomain: is similar to link: except it shows you all of the pages linking to an entire domain rather than just the homepage. People often link to pages within a site – especially on news and blog sites – when talking about specific stories. That’s referred to as deep linking. Linkdomain helps uncover those links. It can be used like this:
[linkdomain:technologyevangelist.com]

inurl: limits your search to terms found in the URL itself, so a search for:
[inurl:evangelist] would bring back this site and every other site with that word in the URL.

This can be useful for seeing who’s leveraging your trademarks, and to find sites with specific features such as [inurl:blog] or [inurl:forum]

It’s worth noting that MSN and Yahoo have been more popular than Google for link related searches because Google has been abridging their link: search results for years. In fact, it’s probably quite common among search marketers to run all of their human search results when they’re really looking stuff up on Google, but to use other search engines for administrative tasks.