I've written before that on my wishlist would be for Google and its competitors to offer the ability to search for links across the web that point at a particular page with certain terms in the links.
In other words, many are familiar with the famous miserable failure results that bring up the official George W. Bush biography on several of the major search engines. But none of them make it possible to see exactly what pages are linking to the biography with those words in them.
Sure, I can do a backlink lookup on Google for pages linking to the bio like this. But that shows me all pages that Google wishes to reveal that link to the page -- not the pages that link and use the words "miserable failure" in the links.
At MSN's beta, this search lets me find pages that link to the bio and use the words "miserable failure" on the page, something you can't do at Google or Yahoo. But that's still not what I want. Some of those pages might link to the bio but NOT with those words in the link itself. This search still doesn't help if I or other enquiring searchers want to know who exactly is influencing a link bomb.
OK, so enquiring search marketers may also want to know -- and fear of giving them too much information may be why we don't have this ability. AltaVista once gave it, but that support ended earlier this year. I think the fear is overblown, and I stand ready to give big kudos to the first search engine that resurrects this past feature.
Google does offer some ability to find matches showing words in anchor text, as well as in title tags and in URLs. Do the results that come up in response to these special search commands relate to how Google ranks web pages? That's being discussed by marketers in our forums: What Do Google's Allinanchor, Allintitle & Allinurl Results Tell Us?