Doing Link Research

October 17th, 2006 by Chris

Researching links is an important activity that every webmaster must do. This encompasses not only researching who links to you, but also who links to your competitors, or where your competitors link, or even finding places where you can get new links.

Google was the first search engine to provide a link search that would allow you to learn who was linking to a page, and they included easy access to this search in their toolbar, that most webmasters use.

However Google’s backlink search has never been entirely accurate, they purposefully do not include all known links, only a sample. So when using it you aren’t getting the full picture. Yet I’m willing to bet that most webmasters out there still use Google for this type of research.

Instead I recommend trying Yahoo. Yahoo’s new Site Explorer search engine, which is in some ways a response to Google’s Sitemaps (now known as Google Webmaster Central) is a search engine just for webmasters and it rocks. It includes great drill-down tools for researching links from your homepage, or even individual subsections of your site. Additionally you can specify if you want all links pointing to a URL, or just links not from your own site, or just links from any specific site. For instance if you want to know how many places a page is linked to from Wikipedia or DMOZ you can search and limit the result to those domains. What is also nice is you can indicate if you want results that only link to a specific URL, or that URL plus all other pages deeper than it in your directory structure. This is great if you run a site where subsections or subpages garner a majority if your incoming links, now you can get a true full site measure.

Yahoo Site Explorer also has an easy way to add a feed like Google Sitemaps to make it easier for them to crawl your site.

Another neat new tool for link research is MSN’s LinkFromDomain operator which tells you not what links point to a site, but where a site as a whole links to. Do you want to know where your competitors link to? Or even where you link to if you don’t know? Maybe your run a large forum and you want to know what types of links your visitors are leaving. In any case there is a plethora of uses for this type of search and I’m surprised it took this long for someone to create it.

So if you’re still using Google for your link researching, broaden your horizons, there are better tools out there.

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