Every website has a plethora of links. These can be classified in different ways, such as form of content that could be text or image or video. Links can also be categorized as per the purpose they serve. There are four types of links in the context of purpose. These are internal and external, incoming and outgoing. The latter two are also known as inbound and outbound links. Internal and external links are those that are published on the website and respectively redirect the audience to pages on the website or other websites. Outbound links are those that specifically redirect users to other websites, which may or may not be owned by the same webmaster or be an affiliate site. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are published on other websites wherefrom the target audience is redirected to the linked website or webpage.
A Brief Assessment of Backlinks vs. Inbound Links
Backlinks and inbound links can be deemed to be the same but they are not identical. All inbound links are effectively backlinks but they are not always intentional. For instance, if the owner of a website or a company is placing the backlinks or inbound links on different sites at spread across the web, in the form of ads and other contents, then these are intentional and tasked for specific purposes such as search engine optimization or to generate more traffic. If the inbound links are not published or placed intentionally, then they are not necessarily pleasant backlinks. These links may have an unpleasant effect.
It is fair to infer that all inbound links that are intentionally placed are desirable backlinks. All backlinks that are not intentionally placed are inbound links that may or may not be desirable. This is why it is imperative for you to find out who links to your blog. You need to know this so you can make the most of the pleasant, desirable or effective links and get rid of the unpleasant or undesirable links. You may not have to do anything about unintentional but ineffective inbound links since they are not making a difference, unless there is a reason to worry about an adverse effect.
Why you Need to Know Who Links to your Blog
Backlinks are useful when they are placed on trusted, relevant and authoritative websites. The purpose of such inbound links is to establish trust, to have an expanding presence across the web and to entice more people to check out the blog. These backlinks have a direct effect on search engine optimization and also the website ranking of a blog. You do not have to invest additional time and effort to find out how intentionally placed backlinks are appearing on different sites. You must find out who has linked to your blog without your knowing. Here are the simple reasons why you must do this.
• You need effective backlinks. The number of backlinks you have and how all those inbound links are working will determine your strategy. Link building is at the crux of search engine optimization and website ranking. Unless you know where all you have links placed redirecting users to your blog or simply citing some of your posts, you cannot review your link building strategy and hence your entire approach to search engine optimization may be ineffective, even inconsequential.
• Just as you must be aware of the ineffective and unwanted inbound links, you should also find out the more effective and hence productive backlinks. Finding these and learning more about them will enable you to conceive a strategy that further explores similar backlinks. A strategy that has accidentally or expectedly worked should be continued.
• Finding out who links to your blog is crucial to assess and analyze your success or failure. The content on your blog may be great or it may be found lacking by some in your target audience. You may or may not get many organic backlinks. You may have to work really hard to get some inbound links. How many people are referring to your blog and actually citing the content on your website using outbound links on their sites will tell you how popular your information is, if it is reliable and if you are emerging as a brand.
• Backlinks or inbound links are brand mentions. There are organic and inorganic brand mentions. The average internet user may not always get to segregate one from the other but the search engines, algorithms assigning ranks to websites and other programs crawling the web will easily tell the difference between organic and inorganic brand mentions in due course of time. Hence, the objective is to find more websites, companies or people who will voluntarily cite your blog as a reference, source or recommendation while publishing their contents.
How to Find Out Who Links to Your Blog
One of the most worrisome consequences of not knowing who links to your blog is getting penalized for no fault of yours. If a website that is known for spamming and has been a source of phishing attacks or has indulged in prohibited practices as stipulated by search engines and other regulators, then inbound links on such platforms redirecting internet users to your blog can easily dent your reputation. Your website or blog may be presumed to be an affiliate of that site in odd instances and it is possible your domain will get flagged.
There are free and paid solutions available to find out who links to your blog. The two largest search engines in the world right now have appropriate tools. Both Google and Bing could be sufficient for you to know everything about inbound links or backlinks. You may use a paid solution too if that suits your purpose.
Google Search Console
Whether or not you use any other free or paid tool, you must absolutely use Google Search Console. Google is the largest search engine on the planet. It is also the most advanced in more ways than one. Google Search Console can actually find some links that paid solutions or tools fail to locate and identify. It is true that Google Search Console does bring out all the inbound links or backlinks, many of which may not exist right now but it is better to be aware of everything than missing out on something that matters. You can access GSC or Google Search Console just the way you accessed Google Webmaster Tools. It has a new name since May, 2015.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing is a powerful search engine. Its presence may be at times dwarfed in many regions of the world but it is relevant and useful. Bing has its own plethora of Webmaster Tools. You can access most of these tools for free and using one you will be able to find the links to your blog. New bloggers or webmasters will have to wait for a week or longer for the relevant data to be amassed by Bing. You will need a Microsoft account. You can look for Reports & Data. There will be an option of Inbound Links. You can choose Export All and download all the inbound links and associated data.
Free and Paid Tools to Find Links to your Blog
Google and Bing are definitely the default platforms to use for any blogger. Their webmaster tools are useful and free. There is absolutely no reason why you should not use them to find links to your blog. You can also use other free tools such as Majestic and Ahrefs. Majestic is deemed by many to be better than Ahrefs. You must have your domain verified and then you can obtain all the data pertaining to inbound links for free. The advanced report generated by Majestic is quite comprehensive and it is, in most cases, as reliable as the data made available by Google and Bing.
Ahrefs is not as good as Majestic in the context of link metrics but it does have an enormous index of backlinks, actually all kinds of links since inbound links for a blog are actually outbound links for the source website wherefrom users get redirected. It is possible that you will find more inbound links using Ahrefs than you will with Majestic. The account with Ahrefs can be created for free. The verification process for your domain is also free.
There are paid tools such as Monitor Backlinks and Link Explorer. You may be able to sign up for free if a trial is available. You will not get all the features available for paying users. It is entirely up to you whether or not you wish to try paid tools. With Google and Bing by your side along with other free tools available at your disposal, you can definitely avoid paying for now and get as much relevant data as you want. Analyze the links and assess the profiles of those who are linking to your blog, review your backlinks strategy and improve your link building tactics.