With Google constantly updating it’s algorithm to return the best possible results for web searchers, it is becoming increasingly important to regularly analyze your website’s link profile. Since linkbuilding is a constantly evolving and changing process, based on the current search engine algorithms, it is important that you regularly update and adjust your linkbuilding techniques. There was a time, not too long ago, where if you had a site that you wanted to rank for the keyword term “Search Engine Optimization” you would simply point a bunch of links to your website using that exact anchor text as the link. If you are still using this practice in 2009 (and unfortunately many people still are) it is only a matter of time before you will face a huge penalty from Google or possibly even be removed from their search results all together. With anchor text being just one piece of the puzzle, there are a variety of components you need to look into when analyzing your website’s link profile.

Free Backlink Analysis Tools:

I have tested quite a few free backlink analysis tools and ended up finding major flaws with most of them. Many of these free tools are ridiculously slow, don’t provide the necessary information, or are just plane buggy and don’t work correctly. Out of all the free tools available, here are five free backlink tools that should be able to give you a great idea of your website’s link profile (don’t forget to keep tabs your competitor’s link profiles as well).

  • SeoPro Backlink Checker: This is probably my favorite tool for analyzing a site’s backlinks as it seems to provide the most complete analysis available (for free that is). This tool lists anchor text, Pagerank, no-follow, link count, and a few other important factors. You are also given the ability to sort the list based on different variables which is quite helpful. Most importantly, it has a very simple layout and is easy to use.

seo pro backlink checker

  • Link Diagnosis Backlink Checker: This is another great tool for analyzing your site’s backlinks. It provides much of the same information as the SeoPro tool, but adds a few unique features. It provides you with an inbound link’s “strength” to give you an idea of the link’s effectiveness; it is hard to say how accurate this number actually is though. Additionally, you are provided with two graphs displaying “Pagerank Distribution” and “Link Types.”

link diagnosis backlink checker

  • Google Webmaster Tools: While most people put their focus on the inbound links to their site, it is also important to analyze the internal linking profile of your website. For this, I like to use Google Webmaster Tools. This tool has an internal link section that is able to keep track of how many links you have going to each page and where each is linked from. One drawback is not being able to easily see the anchor text for each internal link, but I still feel this tool is very helpful none-the-less.

google webmaster tools internal links

  • Yahoo Site Explorer: This tool provides a very easy way to view the number of inbound links to any given site and shows which external sites the links are coming from. As a bonus, if you have SEO Quake (discussed below) installed and the Site Explorer function enabled, you will see additional information when using Site Explorer including Pagerank, links, etc.

yahoo site explorer

  • SEO Quake Toolbar: I thought this was worth including as it is a tool I use all day, everyday. This toolbar shows a variety of useful SEO information, but pertaining to backlinks in particular, it will show you the Yahoo Site Explorer link count right in your browser. This is useful for getting a quick idea of the link count for a site, or even a specific page, without having to navigate to another website.

seo quake toolbar

I believe that is also important to note that while many of these free tools can get the basic job done, there are a variety of paid services and tools that are simply able provide users with a more complete set of backlink data for analysis. The primary difference of the paid vs. free tools is that the paid tools use their own index of your site rather than basing the data on one of the big three search engine’s index. Two paid services that are worth mentioning are Linkscape by SEOmoz.org and the backlink tool by MajesticSEO.com.

Red Flags in Your Link Profile:

When using these SEO tools, here are a few things to keep in mind when analyzing your website’s inbound links.

  • Do many of your links have the same precise anchor text? If so, this is a very easy thing for Google, and other search engines, to pick up on. If your site has 1000 links and 900 of them simply use the anchor text “SEO” you can be sure a penalty is coming your way. These days, you need to vary your anchor text and think like a regular user rather than an Internet marketer.
  • Do you have all do-follow links? While do-follow links flow the link juice to your site, it is important to incorporate some no-follow links into your link profile. While this number varies greatly, a natural link profile will usually contain at least 3-5% no-follow links.
  • Where are your inbound links placed? Links are naturally placed in blogposts and embedded in content. Simply put, links placed in the footer and even in the blogroll of a site are just not very effective anymore. Moreover, I’m not a big fan of site-wide links and tend to think they can often lead to penalties.
  • How authoritative are the site’s linking to you? This has become a major factor in determining the quality of a link. It is no longer the quantity of links alone that will get your site ranking for desirable keyword phrases, but rather the quality of the links pointing towards your site.
  • Are you buying links? Buying links is generally not a great idea these days and can easily lead to penalties for your site. Sites that sell links tend to stick out like a sore thumb and are becoming increasingly easy for search engines to detect. If you are still buying links, it is time to look elsewhere.
  • Are the site’s linking to you relevant? This is by far one of the most important factors these days. Look to build in-context links around highly relevant and high quality content as opposed to just looking at Pagerank or the number of inbound links.

I also want to mention very quickly that the with the recent news of Bing eventually powering Yahoo’s search results, some of these free tools I mentioned may be directly affected. Yahoo’s Site Explorer is really the one tool provided by the big three search engines that allows users to reverse engineer the links of a given site; something that Google and Microsoft simply do not want to enable the public to do for obvious reasons. If Site Explorer gets the axe as a result of this new merger between the two companies, it may force people to turn towards some paid alternatives, such as the two I mentioned earlier. With many of the free backlink analysis tools basing their reports on the information from Site Explorer, these tools could potentially not be available if Yahoo decides to stop offering this free service.

Please feel free to leave me some feedback or suggest a few more resources or tips that I may have missed!


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Jeffrey Tang • 9 years ago

I've mostly been using Yahoo! Site Explorer for my backlink analysis ... but with the recent deal between Yahoo and Bing, who knows how long that tool will stay available (or free)? Thanks for pointing out some of these alternatives.

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Dave • 9 years ago

Solid list. With the algo changing constantly your advice is sound. Nice tip on the nofollow.

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Internet Marketing Raleigh • 9 years ago

I use Yahoo to see back links, for now. I definitely found it helpful to vary the anchor text. It's not always easy. I have a fashion website that needs to rank well for one phrase only simply because it's a seasonal business. If I can't get the ranking, then the client loses the season. It would be great to bombard with the same exact anchor text. But I realize I have to mix it up a lot. For that exact phrase I'm # 1 on Yahoo and Bing... Google, not so much! :) I'll have to get creative with my anchor text to have it all work toward 1 phrase. BTW, Brazilian Swimsuits is the phrase. How would I go about varying it and still rank well on Google in a decent amount of time? Feedback would be appreciated.

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Kathy • 9 years ago

if a higher ranking domain is the only site linking to you, but they link to you several times, do they all count? Is it better to have several incoming links from one upper-level domain (pr8) than it is to have several incoming links from a variety of pr3 and under sites?

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Ryan Frank • 9 years ago

Google seems to be much more of a stickler when it comes to varying your anchor text, at the moment, than Yahoo or Bing. I would imagine that when Bing starts to power Yahoo searches in the next two years or so, we will see their algorithm change dramatically and focus a bit more on things like varying anchor text. So to be ranking #1 on Yahoo and Bing for a phase that doesn't do as well on Google is no surprise. I have come across this same type of thing with other websites as well.

In terms of varying your anchor text for the term “Brazilian Swimsuits,” I would just focus on naturally building your anchor text into the surrounding content. So, maybe use anchor text will look something like…

“offering great prices on Brazilian Swimsuits”
“largest selection of Brazilian Swimsuits”
“this great Brazilian Swimsuit site”

These would be examples of varying anchor text while still incorporating your exact keyword phrase. I would also encourage adding in the name brand occasionally and even incorporating some useless text into the link; thinking like a regular internet user rather than an Internet marketer.

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Ryan Frank • 9 years ago

This is tough to give a definitive answer on as we can never be 100% sure when talking about how Google’s algorithm works. In my opinion, I would focus less on the Pagerank of any give site and more on the site theme, domain age, authority, inbound link count and your link’s placement on the site (contextual links usually weighted more than site-wide or side-bar links).

It's hard to get links from a page with a PR score of 8, or from a set of pages with PR 8 for that matter.  Assuming only PR mattered (which it does not), you'd probably be better off with the set of PR 8 links versus having a variety of links from less authoritative sites.  But because the engines are looking at the context of the links point to your site and not just the weight of the page their on, I'd say a variety of lower authoritative pages would be a better use of your time (rather than begging for links from a site with pages of score PR 8), especially if you could get in-context links pointing to your site's pages.

Also, when you ask if multiple links from the same site all count, the answer is yes, but they are presumably weighted slightly less. Generally, if you had three equal sites, you would be better off getting one link from each site rather than three links from one of the sites.

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Patrice Albertus • 9 years ago

Funny to put the news Google Webmaster tool in the liste ;-) Hope data would become more and more wide and accurate, webmaster tools could be the first and best solution to provide this kind of link profile, but needs search engine to be transparent... Other nice tools I'm also using : - Advanced Link manager (Win/Mac/Linux) - LinkAssistant

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Sabri • 9 years ago

Hi all, I have a question about yahoo site explorer and Bing.Is there any visitor analysis in Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing? like Visitor analysis in Google Analytics.Please reply me soon.

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Ryan Frank • 9 years ago

Hi Sabri,

Yahoo Site Explorer does not provide any visitor analysis functions, but rather just gives a basic snapshot of how many links you have pointing at your website and where these links are coming from. Yahoo Site Explorer is more of a link analysis tool where as visitor analysis data would be collected with an analytics program.

If you are looking to gather detailed visitor analysis data I would stick with Google Analytics or even give Woopra a try. Woopra's free analytics program takes it to a much deeper level than Google Analytics by giving you real time visitor information showing you just about everything you would ever need to know about your visitors. In Woopra, you can actually watch a users path live as they navigate through your site. Pretty cool stuff.


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Ryan Frank • 9 years ago

Just a quick update to all those who have been reading this post. I recently found a great new tool I have been using to analyze links. SEO Link Analysis is a free firefox add-on that will automatically display the anchor text and whether or not the link passes PR or is a no-follow. Very simple and useful tool, that best of all loads instantly. The one issue I have with many of the other tools available is that they take so long to load and this new firefox add-on definitely solves that problem. Be sure to give this tool a try and leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.


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Mike Shannon • 9 years ago

 Yahoo also has an analytics program similar to Google Analytics

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Meja365 • 9 years ago

Are the site’s linking to you relevant? This is by far one of the most important factors these days. Look to build in-context links around highly relevant and high quality content as opposed to just looking at Pagerank or the number of inbound links.
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