Inbound Link Tracking – Some Surprising Inconcistencies Depending on What Tracking Tool You Choose

The basic “link:” search technique is quick, but may not be the best way to track a Website’s Link Popularity in Google and Yahoo.

Flickr image by p373 / Pete Welsch

While it may be simple, using the technique to trace backlinks does not provide anywhere near as much data as you need to make informed decisions. (Note there can be no space between the “link:” and the web page URL.) I know there are tons of inbound links to my own domain but only 6 inbound links are reported when I use this basic method.

I get a bit more detail using Alexa as a next step in researching my Website’s popularity with other sites. You can also use Alexa to learn about your competitors’ link popularity. The basic Alexa tools are free and simple to use.

Google Tools

To see a much larger sampling of links and other reports, you should always set up and verify your Website in Google’s Webmaster Tools. Then, on your Webmaster Tools Home page, you can select the verified site you want and expand the sidebar link to Your site on the web and click on Links to your site. If there is no data you might need to set up a sitemap in the Google Analytics section of Webmaster Tools. This is a little more complicated, but once you have it up and running you will then have access to even more detail in the Analytics reports on Traffic Sources. In this case, Referring Sites are your inbound links.

Yahoo! Tools

Yahoo! Site Explorer is a popular, free tool for analyzing and tracking inbound links but you must have a Yahoo account and again verify  the site first. And the results are worth the effort! Yahoo reports 205 Pages and 389 InLinks to this Website.

Eric Miraglia created Page Inlink Analyzer using Yahoo’s API and Delicious’ bookmarks to analyze the pagelinks to your site and rate their relative “Link Value.”

Why do the two following tools work even better at tracking backlinks than Google or Yahoo?

Majestic SEO will provide a quick and detailed analysis of backlinks, but requires verification to get the details. Nonetheless, it reports finding more than 3,000 backlinks to

Open Site Explorer’s Linkscape is quick, requires no registration and finds a total of 740 incoming links! The free reports are tabulated and rich with details.

I don’t have the time and the knowledge to analyze the whys regarding the vast  differences in the results from the various methods used to track incoming links. If anyone else knows wht, please post a comment… I am just glad to have discovered a couple of superior ways to get accurate inbound link data that I need and I hope this quest helps you as well.

Why is it important to track your link popularity? Because its one important factor that search engines use to rank your Website. The more authentic incoming links, the better.


Link Popularity is a general tally of the total number of Web pages which link to a Website (or a specific Web page). Most major search engines support finding them with the “link:” operator.

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