As you may or may not know, your Google search ranking is dependent on a number of factors, numbering as many as 30, which change often as Google adjusts its algorithms.
One of the biggest contributing factors to this is the page’s PageRank (named after Larry Page, one of Google’s founders). PageRank was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while still students at Stanford, and today it forms the basis of Google’s search algorithms.
While keywords on your page play a big role in determining search rank, having a good PageRank can be seen as a “shortcut”, and can save you a lot of time, and free you from having to carefully keyword optimize each and every page. PageRank is logarithmic, which means that it displays on a scale of 1 to 10 what proportion of the sites on the internet link to yours – with a PageRank of zero meaning no sites link to you, and a PageRank of 10 meaning all sites on the internet link to you. The Richter scale for determining the strength of earthquakes works in a similar way.
Before we look at how to find out who is linking to your page, we should cover one more important aspect of incoming links:
PageRank is logarithmic, and it uses a lot more than simple numbers to determine search rank. Two important things that contribute to how useful an incoming link is are:
- The PageRank of the page (note: not the top-level domain, unless you are linked to from the home page) that links to yours
- The anchor text of the link (so a link to your page with the anchor text “custom running shoes” is worth a lot more than one with the anchor text “click here”)
With that in mind, let’s look at how to find out what sites link to yours:
The Simple Way – the Link: () operator
The most simple, straightforward way to find out who links to your page is simply to Google it. If you type “link: www.domain.com” into Google, it will spit out a list of all of the pages that link to yours (including your own).
This is good for a quick glance, or to check how you are coming along with your linking campaign. However, if we want some more in-depth information, we’re going to have to get a little more advanced.
The Better Way – Google Webmaster Tools
If you don’t have Google Webmaster Tools set up for your domain, you should do that now. There are many applications for giving you insights into your website, but Google’s package is by far the easiest and most accessible – and it’s free.
Once you’ve added your domain and had it verified (which is a simple process that takes a few hours to register but only a few minutes to actually perform), you simply select it from the list of verified websites in your Webmaster Tools account, and click on the “Links” tab at the top.
This will then give you a list of the links to your site. The information will be divided into external links (other sites that link to you) and internal links, which are your own sub-pages that link to the domain you specified.
This makes it easy to see who is linking to you, and to visit their sites to see how the link is displayed. If possible, you can then do things like contact the owner of the linking site and request that a change is made to the anchor text, improving the quality of the incoming link.