How to Use Reverse Search Logic to Find Something Online

Reverse Search

What is Reverse Search?

If you’ve ever tried to look up a phone number, address, email address, or other information on the Web, you know that simply typing a string of information into a search engine doesn’t always cut it. In fact, sometimes you have to move backwards in your search in order to move ahead; in other words, use reverse logic in order to track down what you might be looking for.

This is actually a very common problem.

For example, I keep a close eye on the terms visitors use when they search About Web Search, and "reverse lookup," "reverse search," “reverse phone number look up”, “reverse email search” and variations of these terms are among the most common searches, week after week after week. It’s definitely something that a lot of people are trying to do successfully on the Web.

When Reverse Search Works: Common Scenarios

Phone Numbers

A few common situations when you need to search in reverse are with phone numbers, email addresses, names, and residential/business addresses. For example, you might be checking your monthly phone bill, and you see a $20 long-distance call to a number you don't recognize. With a reverse phone number look-up, you just enter the number in your favorite search engine, and up pops the name of the person or business that number is assigned to.

Another phone-related variation that affects me from time to time is the number scrawled in haste on a scrap of paper so that I won't forget it - but (of course) I've forgotten to write the name to go with it!

Reverse area code look-ups are also often useful, such as when you are checking out a company on the Web, and they list a phone number but no address. Are they near enough to your location to bother investigating further? You can easily check the area code to find out, simply by entering the numbers into any search engine.

Try a reverse phone number look-up right now: Nine Ways to Find a Phone Number Online


Reverse searches are relevant to names and addresses in a couple of ways. As with phone numbers, you may find yourself in possession of just a fragment of information about a person or company, such as the street name, city and state: a reverse address search can potentially fill in the blanks. Or,perhaps you're shopping for a house, driving around a likely neighborhood, and you want to track down the owners of a particular property. Enter the street address in a search engine or real estate search tool, such as Zillow or Trulia, and you may turn up the name and phone number you need.

Another interesting application of the reverse address search can be to research a neighborhood or the locale of a business you are investigating. If you enter a street name in a particular city or town, without a specific number, some search sites will provide you with a list of multiple properties and owners on the street, as well as what businesses are next door or nearby an office building or store (this is easily accomplished with Google Maps, for example).

Email Addresses

A third popular use for reverse search with regard to personal information is finding email addresses.

The "forward" mode of email search is to look up a person by name, hoping to find their email address(es). This is unfortunately rarely successful. However, the reverse form starts with the email address, and returns the associated name and location, and is successful most of the time.

This can be especially helpful in situations where you receive a message from a sender you don't recognize. And as with street addresses, some reverse searches will let you find a whole group of names associated with a particular domain, ie. "," "," etc.

Try a reverse email search right now: Free Reverse Email Search - How to Track Someone Down on the Web.

Other Uses For Reverse Logic Search

While personal information is by far the most common goal of reverse searches, there are plenty of other niches and examples where the backwards approach can come in handy. For anyone involved in search engine optimization, a useful reversal of the search process is to look at links inbound to a particular site or URL (backlinks). This information can help you determine how popular a page is, or verify that a reciprocal link is still active.

You can also use this kind of reverse search to find reciprocal link opportunities, for example, by finding out who is linking to your competitors. This can even be a clever technique for searching deeply on a specific subject, as reverse links from an on-target site will often lead to more of the same (see Eight Ways To Find A Link for more information on this subject).

Reverse Search Logic: A Good Tool To Have

As the Web gets larger and larger with more information freely available, savvy Web searchers will find that sifting through all this data can be quite overwhelming. A reverse search can be an incredibly effective way to find snippets of information you normally wouldn’t find with a straightforward search, and is definitely a smart skill to cultivate.

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