Do you know how many backlinks are actually pointing to your website, and more importantly, WHO are linking to you?
It is common sense that no matter how useful and cheap your product is, you won’t make a dime unless you generate the necessary traffic. There are several traffic generation methods available to an internet marketer. When you are building your first website, probably you don’t have money to spend on PPC. Neither do you have big-time JV partners to send you floods of traffic at short notice.
The only traffic generation option available to you is SEO traffic, and what better way to generate free SEO traffic than leaving your website’s links on old, authority and high PR websites that are already indexed and respected by Google.™
In the following article, I will tell you how to get an accurate idea of which links are actually beneficial for you and which aren’t.
A common mistake many people make when searching for backlinks of a particular website is to run the query " link:domain.com" in the Google search engine, where domain.com is the website’s domain. Say that if your domain is xyz.com, you would run the query "link:xyz.com" in the Google search. The problem with this method is that the data you get from the public search engine of Google is far from accurate. Google would show you only a handful of the backlinks pointing to your website.
They would never give you the whole picture because they are afraid that once spammers come to know about all the sites pointing to a high PR website, they would spam those sites to death in the hope of gaining an equally high pagerank. Google doesn’t want any more link spammer than there are already, and I am sure you don’t want them either. Spammers are creatures who spoil a good thing for themselves as well as you and me.
On the other hand, as a marketer, it is important for you to know where you are getting backlinks from. This way, you can have a fair idea of which sites are worth your effort and which aren’t. There are two free tools to help you with this. My favorite is:
Google Webmaster Tools
Here is what I do.
a) Step1: I use this free Google sitemap generator tool to generate a sitemap for my website. The tool would generate your sitemap in several formats, of which, only the XML and HTML formats are most important. The sitemap that comes in XML format is the one you would submit to Google, while the HTML one should be put on your website.
b) Step2: Signup for a free Google account here. If you use any of Google’s services such as Gmail, Adsense, Adwords, Analytics, etc., you already have a Google account and don’t need another. Simply sign in with your existing credentials and go to the Webmasters Tools section.
c) Step3: Once at the dashboard, add a website. DO NOT add the "http://" or "www" parts; instead, just add the domain name, like this:
d) Step 4: Click to verify your website:
I usually upload a blank file of the name suggested by Google to the root directory of my website (in my case, it is called public_html), and then click on the "Verify" button":
If Google successfully finds the file, you would get the "success" page":
Once you see that page, you would want to click on the "Sitemaps" link from the left, in order to add a sitemap to facilitate Google’s indexing:
e) Step 5: When adding a sitemap, just enter the filename of your sitemap, followed by the extension. No need to type the whole path:
f) Step 6: Start building backlinks for your website as usual. I recommend that you give Google a minimum of one month to index your site; the more time you give it, the more accurate the data you would get, since it takes Google several weeks to crawl and index your website complete, and then some more time for generating the backlink data.
In case of a brand new website, I generally don’t log back to check its status in Google until a couple of months have passed from the date of adding the sitemap. Once your site completely indexed by Google, you can check back frequently, though checking too frequently would be wasting time. As a matter of fact, it takes considerable time to get the desired results from SEO!
g) Step 7: After building backlinks for a month or so, you can log back into Google Webmaster Tools, and click on your site’s link to check its status. Google would tell you if there were errors in accessing any of the site’s URLs, etc. By default, Google doesn’t follow/index such URLs. You should fix these errors as soon as you can, and request reconsideration for the same to Google.
Next, you would want to click on the "Links" link on the left, and click on the link called "Pages with external links" to get an accurate data about the websites linking back to you.
On the next page, Google would give you a numerical value for each page of your site that has backlinks pointing to it. Simply click on each of these numbers to check which sites are pointing to that page. Here is a screenshot of the external links data of my blog (the nuttiegraphics.com site is new and as such, doesn’t have any backlink pointing to it):
Another way to get the backlinks data for your website is to use the Yahoo Site explorer.
a) Step 1: Simply enter your domain name (including the http:// part) and click on the "Explore URL" button:
b) Step2: The problem with Yahoo™ Site Explorer is that by default, it would show both the internal and external linking structure of your website. To check only the external links pointing to your website, click on the "inlinks" button:
c) Step3: Next to "Show Inlinks", select "Except from This Domain". In the next box, select "Entire Site":
There, you would get a fairly accurate data of your website’s external linking structure!
In my opinion, if your aim is to get traffic from Google (and to be honest, you would get the majority of "REAL" traffic only from Google), it only makes sense to use Google Webmaster tools instead of Yahoo Site explorer.
Please don’t leave my blog without posting a nice comment! ;)
Hi Arindam, Angela sent me and I’m very grateful to her for sending me to such a good resource. I didn’t even know you could check backlinks with Google so your article was excellent and very valuable. You show us several tools we can use to check where our backlinks are coming from. I used the Sitemap generator that you recommeded. One question, I have a blog on my website in a directory, not on my main page, the sitemap generator does not recognize the blog. Any suggestions?
Have you checked if you have disallowed SEs to index your blog using “nofollow” or “noindex” commands? Some people do it using robots.txt while others use WP plugins. Pages and directories which are disallowed to index won’t be recognized by the sitemap generator tool. However, if you are sure everything is correct, you can contact the sitemap generator guys about it. If nothing works out, just submit your XML sitemap to Google “as is” and add the link to your blog manually in the HTML sitemap. I am sure Google would pick it up ;)
“Nice comment” :D
Thanks Arindam, a nice guide.
LOL. Thanks Nathan. I have been meaning to contact you and say “hi” but due to my horrendous schedule, that hasn’t been possible :P So I am glad u dropped here! Hope u and your wifey r well :D
Well written post. Finally, a post with usable content and not just a sales letter…Thank you and I am sharing this with my followers.
Thanks JD. I appreciate the extra traffic ;)
These are good tips for monitoring the progression of a site’s backlinks. Although I already knew about how to do Webmaster Tools and check the links in Yahoo Explorer, it is nice to see a step-by-step tutorial on how to set this up.
Meanwhile, I discovered your site through Angela’s backlink service. It looks like you have some pretty good content here!
This is awesome information.
How come I have never seen it explained easily like this before.
You have laid it out great. Now I understand it a lot more.
I like your laymans approach.
What a great article about backlinking. I was successful in creating a sitemap for my site. Thank you!
I’d also like to thank for the tip regarding Angela what awesome piece of advise. I signed up for her special. I’m looking forward to the exposure.
Another great post – it certainly gives you more information than a general Google backlink search. However, I find that a lot of so-called backlinks turn out to be other pages on the same website – great for showing if you’ve got a good internal linking structure going on, but not so helpful for external SEO purposes. I also use marketleap.com’s free tools, as it does save the history of your domain, so you can see progress over time.
I just signed up for the subscription, and I was referred by Angela. I just wanted to let you know that this article, and all the other articles are great. Please continue to write, and inspire.
Look forward to receiving your emails they are always so very useful. Many thanks for all the help you are giving:)
Angela sent me too. Finally people (without the huge ego) who know what they are talking about and are prepared to share it!
You have no idea how it helps people like me.
Keep up the great work.
you should write text books. your instructions are excellent. I used to get somebody else to do this sort of stuff for me, but i will try to do it mysefl with your instructions. thanks.
good post I learned a few things that I didn’t know…
[…] 4. As for checking out the number of backlinks of a competitor's website, I still prefer Yahoo™ Site Explorer to BacklinksWatch. I think I even mentioned how to use Yahoo Site Explorer in one of my older boring articles! […]