Backlinks or “back links” are links from other web sites to your site. They're sometimes also known as incoming links.
Links from your site to other sites are forward links, usually described as “links” or hyperlinks.
So links going in the reverse direction are backward links, or backlinks.
Google's free toolbar shows backward links but the results are confusing.
If you have the toolbar installed on your Internet Explorer browser, you can visit a web site, click on the blue “i” and then click on “Backward links” to see what appears to be the number of links pointing to the site you're visiting.
However, ONLY SOME of the site's backlinks are displayed.
How to find backlinks using Google
You can use link:example.com
This gives an unreliable sample. For more reliable results, type the following command into the Google search box:
example.com -site:www.example.com -site:example.com
(Remember to type in your actual site, not “example.com”.)
Doing this shows you pages that link to your site, minus the links on pages on your own site.
(You'll also see sites that just mention your site but don't actually link to it.)
BEWARE: A Google backlink check teases us. It does NOT show all the backlinks that Google knows about. Here's a much better way…
How to find more backlinks using Yahoo!
Go to Yahoo! Site Explorer – http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com – and login.
Type the URL of the site you want to explore.
Click on “Explore URL”.
Click on “Inlinks”.
Modify your search to make it more useful. Select the options to show Inlinks “except from this domain” and “entire site”. This will exclude internal links and show you all external links that Yahoo! knows about to ANY page of the website.
How to find backlinks to an individual page
At Yahoo! Site Explorer, type in the URL at the top of the page, and Click on “Explore URL”.
In Google, it's not so simple. Try this search:
It doesn't actually give you “links”. It gives you mentions. However, most mentions tend to be links and it's more accurate than Google's “link:” command.
Link popularity check
You can check for backlinks by searching in Google for link popularity sites or free backlinks checkers. However, these tools often exist for a short while and then disappear, so I've stopped linking to them.
Why backlinks are important
When ranking sites, search engines such as Google look at the number and quality of sites that link to your site. Ideally, you want backlinks from sites in your industry that have many popular sites linking to them.
How to get backlinks
Common ways to get backlinks include exchanging links with other sites (reciprocal links) and by placing articles you write in article directories and on other sites.
Perhaps the most effective way of all is to create such a useful, fascinating site that other sites voluntarily link to yours.
FREE way to get links to your site
Check out the free Value Exchange for sites in your category that are eager to exchange reciprocal links with other sites. As the Value Exchange's popularity grows, it is becoming more and more useful.
In some topics, it will locate only a few potential links partners. In other niches, it can find several hundred potential links partners for you. I highly recommend it.
To avoid the displeasure of search engines, getting reciprocal links should be just one of the strategies you use, not your main strategy. Matt Cutts of Google has made it clear that it's possible to overdo reciprocal links.
A good way to get backlinks
If you want thousands of visitors a day from search engines (and don't we all!) it's absolutely essential that you encourage other sites in your field to link to you.
One good way to get links to your site is by writing articles for newsletters, which are then published on other people's sites.
In the book Turn Words Into Traffic Jim and Dallas Edwards give step-by-step instructions showing you how to do it.
Beware of “nofollow” links
Some links pass “link juice” and help your PageRank. Some don't. The links that don't pass PageRank value have rel=”nofollow” in the HTML.
In Firefox, here's how to discover if a link is “nofollowed”:
1. Go the web page that contains the link.
2. RIGHT-click anywhere on the web page (NOT on a link).
3. Click on “View Page Info”. (In Internet Explorer, click on “View Source”.)
4. Click Edit.
5. Click Find. Search for the link. See if it contains rel=”nofollow”. If it does, it doesn't pass “link juice”.
Fortunately, there's a much easier way to find nofollowed links… You can easily check for “nofollow” links by using a free tool called SEO for Firefox. It's a Firefox extension from SEOBook. This free tool also gives you a lot of other useful, competitive data. More than 500,000 webmasters use it.