Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

How To Analyse Link Growth Effectively

If you are actively attempting to optimise your website you will no doubt be monitoring your growth. Google rank, organic traffic and indexed content is something we should definitely be looking at, however there is another important aspect and that is the growth of our link profile.

There is a fundamental problem with trying to monitor your link growth, firstly there is no tool that can list 100% of your links (Don’t worry Google knows about all your links but chooses not to show them), the second problem is knowing how many of those links contribute to your page authority.

What I want to do in this post is go through some of the ways we can check our link growth, how we should monitor it and which statistics to use.

Right lets jump straight into it:


OK the obvious place to look for links is on Google,

Simply type in link:yourdomain and it will show pages that link to your domain;

links on google

As you can see from above this is the snap shot from SEOwizz.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, only 11 linking pages????

and here lies the problem;

The Problem

Google only shows a tiny percentage of the links to your site and in actual fact my count using this method fluctuates between 11 – 72. The reason for this I do not know.

Before anyone thinks Google is discounting links because of low quality or something, first know this.

I have links from over 50 PR4 pages including sites like SEOmoz, I also have links from a few PR5 and 6 pages, none of these show when I perform a link search on Google.

This is not the way you should be tracking links in my opinion and frankly means nothing in terms of keyword rankings.

I have consistently ranked on the first page for “google seo” and “seo techniques” despite massive fluctuations with the link count on this search.

Google Webmaster Tools

OK you can open up a webmaster tools account and submit and verify your site, once this is done Google will show you how many links are pointing to your pages, but again this is only a portion of the pages:

webmaster links

As you can see from the above pic, I have 2534 links pointing to the domain and 342 to the homepage, this is a more accurate figure in my opinion but again Google still only shows a partial amount of links, in my opinion Google only show the strongest links here.

The Problem

The main problem with the webmaster tools count is that it fluctuates so much, it is a good indicator of how many quality links you have pointing to a domain but it far from an ideal way of assessing popularity growth.

Yahoo Site Explorer

Now if you head on over to yahoo site explorer you will certainly get a better idea of where you are in link popularity terms.

yahoo links

Now there are some fluctuations on here and still even though it shows a lot more links it is not all of them, however this is the one I recommend on using when assessing raw link popularity, in fact any SEO tools I have ever used usually fall somewhere in between webmaster tools count and yahoo, usually closer to Yahoo.

The Problem

As I said yahoo is so much better for assessing raw popularity however it doesn’t give you any info about the quality and this is the hardest area to get around.

SEO Tools and How I Assess Link Growth

This is my advice and it is how I assess the link growth of all my clients, I will be mentioning certain tools in this section but they are not affiliate linked or even endorsed, I recommend them because they are the best.

Link Popularity

Already answered this one really, yahoo site explorer, this is how I asses link popularity growth but not how I assess how link quality is growing.


The SEOmoz Linkscape tool helps you to see how many quality links you have pointing to your page and how many route domains point to your page, you can actually get this information free by setting up an account, of course if you want in depth info you would need to go PRO, which in my opinion is only worth it if your site is making a real income for you or if your an SEO professional.

seomoz links

Some Things To Note

- SEOmoz only shows how many quality links point to you

- The tool performs a crawl of the web every 4 – 6 weeks so if you build links today you might to see them on SEOmoz for a couple of months.

As well as the SEOmoz tool you can also purchase SEO Elite, this allows you to see the PR of the page pointing to you and if the link is followed.

My advice is this use yahoo for link popularity and SEOmoz or Google webmaster tools count to assess how many quality links you have pointing to your page, but remember these only update every 2 months.

Why Don’t They Give Us It Straight?

The only way any tool could provide us with every single link pointing to our domain is if it could crawl the entire web and only Google possesses that kind of power. So why don’t they tell us about all our links??

Well the main excuse is competition, Google don’t want competitors to be able to discover everyone of your back links so they don’t make the information available. I guess you could then argue that they could provide it in the webmaster tools info, yes they could, why don’t they??? No idea other than maybe they don’t want to assist anyone to game the algorithm.

So when it comes to analysing link growth stick with yahoo for link popularity and SEOmoz/Webmaster Tools for link quality.

This post came from a question I was asked by Mike at HTS Tech Tips. If anyone has any questions feel free to forward them to me, I am happy to address any questions in emails and posts.

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Author: Tim (254 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.



timethief November 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

Thank you so much for this post. Your explanation has cleared up the questions I had about the number and quality of inks to my sites.

Tim November 2, 2009 at 11:33 am


Your welcome, there are often questions people have that I never consider because I am not in their position, this is why it is important for people that read to ask any questions they are struggling to find the answer to.

searchbrat November 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I would recommend SEO SpyGlass, great link analysis tool, not cheap though

Tim November 4, 2009 at 2:33 am


I considered this tool and even licensed it for a while, it works very much like the WebCEO software, however in the end I had to go for the SEOmoz tools, just too much data to ignore at a page and domain level. There are a lot of software options out there, all with the same goal in mind and that is to uncover the tactics of your competition, I guess what makes one better than the other is speed and accuracy.

Mike McEvoy November 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

Some excellent insights into one of the murkier areas of SEO. With so much emphasis on inbound links and linkbuilding for website optimization it can be very frustrating when there doesn’t seem to be an effective way to get consistent metrics.

You provide some good real world examples and helpful clarity on methods and tools for link measurement. hanks for sharing your experiences Glad
my questions helped with this post.

Tim November 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Hi Mike,

Your right it is difficult to get any real worthwhile metrics even from Google, this is why I like SEOmoz so much, because even though it’s link graph is no where near Google’s, for me it is still able to provide tangible figures based on ranking models and factors. PageRank in toolbar terms is pretty much worthless, the 5.7 or 4.75 you get in the Moz bar is a measurable metric that you can use to track link growth and quality.

Woody November 9, 2009 at 1:12 am

2 Words.


this addon for firefox is all you need.

Tim November 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

Thanks Woody,

I’ll be sure to check it out.

Estela March 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm, how od you do it?

Tim March 10, 2010 at 2:20 am

Estela ??

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