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Find external links to your website with Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a mature collection of tools for managing and maintaining the health of your website or blog. It’s also a great way of finding out who’s linking to your articles or web pages…

Google logoGoogle Webmaster Tools is a mature collection of tools for managing and maintaining the health of your website or blog. It’s also a great way of finding out who’s linking to your articles or web pages…

I still get people asking me if I use Google Webmaster Tools, or if I think it’s any good. And the answer is yes on both counts. If you’re serious about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), then you’ll use all of the tools available to you — especially the ones from the likes of Google.

In a continuation of my previous Google Webmaster Tools article, I’d like to expand on some more of the great things you can do.

One of most immediate benefits of Google Webmaster Tools is that it lets you see things like web crawl errors and top search queries. Yes, there are plenty of similar tools out there, but you don’t always get all of them in one place.

Although, I would also highly recommend the excellent SEO Chat tools, that boasts a large collection of SEO tools, some of which you won’t see on Google Webmaster Tools.

First off, if you’re new to Google Webmaster Tools, pay a visit to their help page for more information, and to sign-up, which is free.

Discovering external links to your web pages and articles

Now, if you’re like me, knowing who’s linking to you can help you find websites you might not have discovered otherwise.

page with external linksFinding these websites with Google Webmaster Tools is dead easy:

  1. From the Dashboard, click on: “Links” in the left-hand navigation.
  2. From the sub-menu, click on: “Pages with external links”.
  3. You’ll see a table, much like a spreadsheet, now click on the number for the page of choice in the right-hand column under the “External links” heading.
  4. Alternatively, you can search for pages by their page URL, which requires some foreknowledge of your pages.

external links table

From here, you can sift through the table of links to your articles or web pages, looking for the interesting and the unusual. You’ll be surprised (pleasantly, I hope) by the links you find.

find a page with the search option

As a rule, when I find a link that I hadn’t seen during the course of the day, watching the web traffic to my blog via Clicky, I go read the article and, if I feel it’s appropriate, make a comment and thank the author.

The benefits of finding external links to your website

So why should you bother using Google Webmaster Tools to track who’s linking to your website or blog?

  • Discover new websites, social networks and communities.
  • Seek out any “Bad Neighbourhoods” linking to you, or anything that’s inappropriate.
  • Discover bloggers writing about similar / same topics as you.
  • Help manage your brand by keeping track of how you and your website or blog are being represented / discussed et cetera.

Improving your website through SEO

There are various ways of getting more people linking to your articles, and the amount of effort required varies. For me, optimizing my articles for the search engines is by far the most cost-effective and simplest method. I say simplest, but the simplicity is relative; I’ve been at this for a few years.

Fortunately, I’ve written plenty about how to increase the chances of the articles you write being found by someone using a search engine, a Social Media website or a Social Network.

Any questions? You know where to find me, so don’t be shy!

  • moreLooking for someone with the know-how to optimize your website for the search engines?

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

10 replies on “Find external links to your website with Google Webmaster Tools”

Google Webmaster Tools shows all the links coming to your site that Google knows of. It still does not show as many as Yahoo does. Also the links shown in Google Webmaster Tools are not necessarily links that Google counts as backlinks, because Webmaster Tools does also show the ‘no follow’ links to your site.
I think that Google Webmaster Tools is very useful, but I still like to use Yahoo Site Explorer for searching inlinks.

Hi Dave, thanks for the comment!

A lot of people reading this article are going to be new to the concept of SEO. So to avoid totally overloading the reader with too much information, this article is just about Google Webmaster Tools.

That said, you’ve certainly given me an idea for another article!

All the best and thanks again…

Hi.

There’s a another great functionality at Google Webmaster Central too: you can see who is linking to 404 pages at your websites and then ask the site owners to repair the links or make 301 redirects to similar pages. That’s the easiest way to get some links I know! Matt Cutts discusses capturing traffic from broken links.

But I prefer to use Yahoo! (link: command) to see who is linking to me. They show the links earlier then Google Webmaster Tool.

When talking about “manage your brand”, I use the Google Alerts to show me when somebody links to me (still slow than Yahoo!) or say something (in text) about my site. This is a good way to know what the internet is saying about you.

I also prefer to use the Yahoo lnk:command. Altavista and Alltheweb sometimes give a different cut of data regarding incoming links as compared to Yahoo. The Google Webmaster tool never seems to contain as complete of a list as these others, so I generally ignore it.

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