Ever since the Google Penguin update, SEOs have become very attentive about links pointing to their sites. And rightly so, with negative SEO, when anyone can hurt you, it’s always good to keep a watchful eye on your backlinks (links pointing to your site). Because, if you missed one bad link, it could prove fatal later.
What is the Google Penguin update
Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings. When a new Penguin Update is released, sites that have taken action to remove bad links (such as through the Google disavow links tool or to remove spam may regain rankings. New sites not previously caught might get trapped by Penguin. “False positives,” sites that were caught by mistake, may escape.
Why is it important to check your backlinks?
1. Your backlink profile tell Google about you. What kind of website you are, who are your friends and what kind of content is valuable on your site – to an extent.
2. Your backlink profile might have links that might hurt you. Ex: Link network links, Spam links etc.
3. Staying in control of your backlink profile, weeding out unwanted low quality links can always help you stay in the good books of Google.
How to find all the links pointing to your site?
Now, finding all the links pointing to your site is tricky.
One, because most of these links would be natural and if you have been publishing some good content, you wouldn’t know where they are coming from. Some of them may be out dated, some of them nofollow, some of them even broken.
Now, there are basic and advanced ways of doing this.
The most basic way of finding out all the websites pointing to your site is using Google Webmaster Tools.
If you go into Google Webmaster Tools and navigate to Search Appearance > Links To Your Site, you’ll find all the top level domains linking to your site.
Or go to this direct URL – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/external-links-domain
Choose your website and you should get the list of links. You can export these links to an excel spreadsheet as CSV as well.
You can either download all the backlinks ever or just the new ones (you’ll see appropriate buttons on the tool).
Disadvantages using Google webmaster tool
There are couple of disadvantages.
First, you cannot filter down good and bad links. This is for you to judge.
You have to manually go into all websites and check for their validity, if the links are dofollowed or nofollwed, check domain authority etc.
This could be a pain, if you are trying to filter good links and bad links pointing to your site. Example, for a spam report.
So, how do you find good and bad links to your site separately?
Advanced link monitoring and profiling tools.
There are many advanced (paid and free) SEO tools that will let you pick and profile all backlinks pointing to your site and filter them based on many factors such as, dofollow or not, domain age, domain authority, link value etc.
My favorite ones are Link Profilers and Monitor Backlinks.
Open Link Profiler is easy. If you give in the website you want to check backlinks for, the tool will scan and find out all the links so far indexed and mapped to your website and lets you filter them down.
It lets you filter down by even advanced stuff like page title, nofollow or not, anchor text, industry etc.. and also lets you export them to a CSV file.
The tool will not keep checking for future links though, so you will have to use it every time you wanted to check for new links.
Another tool that I love is Monitor Backlinks – Essentially, this tool not only check your backlink profile deep, it also checks for future links and will notify you when there is a new link to your website, so you can take action immediately.
Check it out in the reviews here.