Q: I know I have a lot of other sites linking to mine. But when I do a Link:mysite.com search on Google I only see a couple. What’s going on?
A: We’ve probably received half a dozen emails this year asking the same question. The answer is simple: Google does not show all of the links to your site (also called backinks and inlinks). It doesn’t even show all of the links that it knows about.
Adding to the confusion, MSN stopped showing backlinks in early 2007 – in fact MSN Search no longer supports the “link:www.mysite.com” format at all.
But don’t despair! There are several ways that you can gather intelligence about links to your website (and that of competitors):
- Using the Yahoo! search engine, search for “link:www.mysite.com” (no quotation marks). Here’s an example. Yahoo! will take you to its Site Explorer, where you can review inlinks to an entire domain or to a particular page. Site Explorer is Yahoo!’s equivalent to Google Webmaster Tools, where you can submit a site map, view last crawled date, and a other features.
- Speaking of Google Webmaster Tools, sign up, get verified, and this fab tool will provide a comprehensive list of inlinks to your site. Google’s popular engineer Matt Cutts has posted an explanation of how you can use Google’s Webmaster Tools to view all of your backlinks.
- A few geeks in shining armor have built backlink checking tools that you can use online. Try these on for size: We Build Pages Backlink Tool, SEOMoz Page Strength tool, Aaron Walls’ backlink analyzer, Backlink Watch.
Lastly, to answer another commonly asked question: Are links really all that important? You bet they are. Shun Google and MSN — and use more accurate tools for backlink checking — to know just where you stand.