Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for SEO. The number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website can directly impact your search engine rankings and traffic.
This guide will teach you how to find, analyze, and track backlinks using a variety of free and paid tools.
A backlink is any link from an external website that points to a page on your own website. Backlinks are also referred to as inbound links or incoming links.
Backlinks serve two main purposes:
Google uses backlinks as one of the top-ranking signals. Generally, the more relevant backlinks you have pointing to your site from authoritative sources, the higher you'll rank in search results.
Not all backlinks have the same value though. The relevance and trustworthiness of the site linking to you also matter. For example, a backlink from the New York Times is more powerful than a link from a relatively unknown personal blog.
One important metric provided by backlink analysis tools is Domain Authority (DA) which measures the strength of a website. Moz created the DA algorithm as a site domain authority checker that is calibrated on a 100-point scale. The higher your DA, the more authority your domain has. DA accounts for factors like link quantity and quality.
You can check a site's Domain Authority using SEOToolsPark's DA checker or within other tools like Ahrefs and Majestic. Generally, sites with a DA above 50 are considered strong. Improving your DA relies on earning backlinks from reputable sites over time.
Monitoring your Domain Authority is a good benchmark for how your overall backlink profile is progressing. But DA is just one signal, so be sure to analyze links based on additional quality factors too when doing your backlink audits.
Wondering how many total backlinks your site currently has? There are a few different tools you can use to find this data:
Google Search Console displays the number of referring domains linking to your website.
To find it:
This data comes directly from Google and gives you an idea of how many unique sites are linking to you. However, it's likely an undercount since Google doesn't have full visibility into all backlink data.
Ahrefs is one of the best backlink analysis tools. The Ahrefs crawler has a huge index of over 10 trillion pages and is great for discovering how many total backlinks your site has.
To check your backlink count in Ahrefs:
You can also filter by link type (dofollow vs. nofollow), anchor text, topic relevance, and more.
Moz's Link Explorer provides another excellent way to get your overall backlink metrics.
To view your total backlinks:
Moz provides a nice visual distribution of your backlinks by type, page authority, spam score, and more.
SEMrush is a robust SEO and competitive analysis platform that also offers backlink data.
To get your backlink count statistics in SEMrush:
SEMrush excels at tracking your backlinks over time so you can monitor growth and changes.
SEOToolsPark is known for having one of the largest link indexes, claiming to have data on over 1 trillion URLs.
To find your backlink count:
Pay attention to the "Fresh index" number which shows recently discovered links vs. their full historic index.
Comparing your backlink totals across a few different tools can give you a more accurate picture of how many total backlinks your site currently has. There will be variances in the data, but you'll spot any major discrepancies.
Beyond just seeing the total number of backlinks, you'll also want to find the specific sites that are linking to your pages. Here are some options for finding a list of your backlinks:
Ahrefs makes it easy to see all your individual backlinks:
With SEMrush you can also generate a list of your backlinks:
Google Search Console provides some backlink data:
Note this is only a sample of your links reported to Google.
Moz makes finding backlinks easy:
Moz also shows helpful metrics like Domain Authority, spam score, and more for each backlink.
SEOToolsPark Backlink Checker enables you to generate a list of your backlinks:
Finding a list of your backlinks is the first step. But in order to truly understand how your link profile is impacting SEO, you need to dig deeper into the context and quality of the links.
Here are some best practices for analyzing your backlinks:
Pay attention to the relevancy of the pages linking to you. Links from pages about similar topics are more powerful.
For example, backlinks from pages about "content marketing tips" would be highly relevant for your content marketing blog.
In Ahrefs, Moz, and other tools you can see the topic for each linking page to assess relevance.
Watch out for sketchy links from low-quality sites, link networks, etc. Disavowing toxic links can protect your site from manual penalties.
Moz and other tools will flag high-risk links. You can also download a backlink list and run it through a toxic link checker like <Link to tool>Link Miner.
A natural link profile has a diverse mix of anchor text (the words used in your backlink). Too many links with "money terms" like your brand name can seem manipulative.
Check your anchor text distribution in Ahrefs, Moz, and other tools. Around 60-80% branded + naked links are ideal.
Redirected links pass less SEO value. Check if links are direct by toggling on "301/302s only" in Moz and other tools to filter down to redirects.
Links higher up on content pages and in sidebars/footers are ideal. Avoid links buried low on pages or in link roundups/blogrolls which are treated as weaker endorsements.
Follow links pass SEO value, while no-follow links don't impact rankings. Verify your important links are not no-follow.
All of the backlink analysis tools make it easy to filter down to just do-follow or no-follow links.
Google lets you disavow links you don't want to be counted. Check if you have any disavowed links still showing in your backlink profile.
You can upload an entire backlink CSV into Google Disavow to check for any currently disavowed links.
Carefully analyze both your new and existing backlinks for all these quality signals. This will give you a solid understanding of where your SEO-friendly backlinks are coming from along with any risky links to be concerned about going forward.
Ongoing backlink tracking allows you to:
Here are some options to monitor backlinks over time:
Ahrefs backlink alerts allow you to get notified when specified conditions are met, like:
You can receive alerts via email, Telegram, or RSS based on the rules you set.
SEMrush compiles backlink data over time so you can view trends:
SEMrush also offers email and dashboard alerts.
Moz Link Interrogation automatically compares your latest link profile to a previous point in time to identify changes.
You provide Moz with two dates and the tool highlights new, lost, and changed links. Schedule it to run monthly, quarterly, or whatever frequency you need.
Majestic compares their fresh index of recent backlinks to the full historic index. This allows you to see how your link profile changes over time.
The ratio of fresh vs. historic can indicate sites aggressively manipulating backlinks if there's a huge discrepancy.
There are a few easy ways to filter down to only do follow backlinks when analyzing your links:
This will exclude nofollow links so you can specifically see dofollow backlink data.
Rather than viewing backlinks at the domain level, you may want to see links pointing to a specific page.
To check page-level backlinks:
The backlink data shown will apply only to that specific page.
Wondering how many backlinks one of your competitor sites has? You can check their backlink totals using the same tools:
View their total backlinks, referring domains, and other metrics to size up their link profiles.
"Calcul backlinks" refers to backlinks that originate from .edu or .gov domains.
These calcul backlinks tend to be of higher quality since they come from reputable educational and government sites.
You can filter to see calcul backlinks pointing to your site:
These insightful backlinks can separate a site from its competitors in the SERPs.
Monitoring and maintaining your backlink profile is crucial for ranking well in 2023 and beyond. Use this guide to start finding and analyzing backlinks pointing to your site using trusted SEO tools.
Backlink audits enable you to identify unnatural links that could hurt your site while strengthening high-quality links from authoritative sources. Make backlink tracking a routine part of your SEO strategy.