I like using the Google search suffixes and prefixes because they are quicker to prepare for a lot of searching
Now it seems that Google's useful link: search operator or link: search parameter if you like...has mysteriously become links:

Who knows where link: went?

Who knows where link: went?

Hello World.

It seems the Google link: (link followed by a colon) search operator or search prefix may have been temporarily or permanently deleted in favour of using links: instead.

OK at least let's say at least it is temporarily unavailable for use in conjunction with google.com and google.com.au and maybe other Google domains.

Update an hour later...possibly some #egg on my face... You may still be able to use the 'link:' string in a Google search but only if it has an asterisk (which may or may not be a wildcard) after the colon i.e. link:*google.com which currently gives 1.16 billion results.

No Google announcement about this I can find but on Google's own webmaster tools help page regarding using the link: search prefix tool it still says use link:.

If you do use link: using Google's example on that page i.e. link:google.com you currently (11.45am 12th Dec 2014) get a page with only 9090 results which is very strange.
If however you change the URL to become links: instead of link: i.e links.google.com you get a page with 938M* results! (*big number alert 938,000,000).

Google webmaster tools breadcrumb trail where the above link is nested (in case it changes).

I just posted to the Google Product Forum page regarding webmaster tools to try to get some answers, my post was as follows:

Does anyone know if the the useful tool "link:" (used as a Google search operator i.e. link:google.com), and which is used for discovering backlinks of the named domain, been temporarily or permanently changed to it's plural "links:"?

If you used google.com as the target domain in conjunction with the "links:" search string i.e. link:google.com then it currently returns a paltry number of backlinks about 8,000. see
www.google.com/search?q=link:google.com

but if you use the hitherto unknown "links:" search prefix i.e. links:google.com it returns the much more likely 938 million backlinks.
see
www.google.com/search?q=links:google.com

Is this to disrupt the backlink mining companies like Majestic and similar?

I have used the example from the webmaster tools page which contains advice on using the "link:" string see:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/55281?hl=en which is currently not relevant.

Maybe this is a temporary change or will they become two separate tools?

Thanks for listening!

UPDATE


Email I sent to Barry Schwartz who writes for Search Engine Land see some of his articles.
8.48am 30.3.2016
Hi Barry
Firstly I love your work and always enjoy your articles!
Nextly re: Your article in Search Engine Land about Google's link: search operator possibly being phased out
Article date: February 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I wrote an article about this in 2014 (this page) and also blogged to G+ (with not much response).

Nowadays I find that the link: operator still works IF we use either Link: (singular with capital L mostly gives the highest no. of results, links: (plural - which I personally like because I found it over a year ago) AND if we either drop the www from the search OR replace it with an asterisk.
Thus Link:google.com currently has 256M results and links:google.com has 172M results but link:google.com has zero results.
Adding the www we have link:www.google.com with zero, links:www.google.com has 155M results and with the capital L...Link:www.google.com has 218M.

If you read my article I was also told by someone I can't remember who that link: still works if you replace the www with an asterisk so link:*.google.com & Link:*.google.com both return 852M but links:*.google.com trumps them all with 972M results!





Moz's very old but still mostly relevant guide to the Google search string parameters

Here is another page about the list of useful Google search operators on the misleadingly named domain googleguide.com which is not affiliated with Google Inc. at all.
Call 07 5526 2939 or 0401 352 269