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;
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;
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.