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Who is linking to my site?

Who is linking to my site? It’s important to know because backlinks are an important ranking signal for Google. Read this article to find out who is visiting your site.

Table of Contents

Let’s first clarify what we mean by a backlink.

A one way link is a link you get from an external website without the need to link back.

This happens when someone finds your content useful and want to include a link to it from their website. This happens naturally. You don’t need to do anything to make this happen.

In practice, for other people to value your content and link to it they need to see it first. You will likely need to rank on the first page of Google to acquire backlinks.

Other than organically ranking on the first page of Google and acquiring backlinks over time you can also ask for a one way link.

Most people know that links are valuable so it will be difficult to get a one way link unless you have an existing business relationship with that person. Still, you can always ask…

Don’t pay for links

Paying for links will get your website penalized by Google. It’s possible your site could be removed from the Google index completely.

A backlink is a link from a page on another website to a page on your website. It defines the relationship between pages.

The referring domain is the website the backlink came from. It is about the relationship between websites.

From an SEO perspective it’s more important to get 1 backlink from 100 referring domains than 100 backlinks from 1 referring domain.

Twitter backlinks are links from Twitter to your website. A backlink is created when a tweet or reply contains a link to your website.

More links to your site can give your more organic search visibility on Google.

Tweets from power users may influence short-term rankings for certain keywords.

Source: Social signals – 5 case studies by Semrush

You can also get indirect benefits from Twitter backlinks. The more people who see your content from Twitter the more likely you will get backlinks from them to your content.

There are two kinds of links you can create on your website.

This is a link within your website. For instance, is an internal link because it links from this page to another page on this site (the home page).

This link: is an external link because it links to another website.

In HTML an internal link looks like:

<a href="/contact-us">Contact Us</a>

You don’t need to specify the domain for internal links although you can if you want to, e.g.

<a href="">Contact Us</a>

Is also an internal link for this site.

An external link always uses the full URL, e.g.

<a href="">Google</a>

Most blogging software comes with an editor so you will not need to type in the HTML directly. An editor will make the process of adding a link simple. In the WordPress editor you can set a link using the popup toolbar when typing:

tool bar in the WordPress editor
Tool bar when typing in WordPress

Select the icon that looks like a paperclip to add a link.

add external link using the WordPress editor
add external link using the WordPress editor

Above is a completed link for Google using the WordPress editor. I selected the “Open in new tab” option otherwise clicking the link will replace your current page meaning the user will leave your website. Generally you want to keep the user on your website so external links opening in a new tab is preferred.

Selecting “nofollow” means Google should not follow the link when crawling your website. Don’t set this option. Google has introduced new options that are preferable to the “nofollow” option.

Selecting “sponsored” means the link is an affiliate link (you get paid if someone makes a purchase from the link). This option should be selected rather than the “nofollow” option.

Selecting “ugc” (User Generated Content), this is a link to content generated by a user, e.g. a comment on a website.

Okay, now you know what backlinks are, how do you manage them?

Managing your backlinks requires an SEO tool. SEO tools usually include a backlink checker that will find any links to your website from other websites.

Backlink checker tools provide information about websites that link to you.

You will naturally gain and lose backlinks over time. Use a backlink checker to investigate new and lost links to your website.

new and list backlinks over time
new and lost backlinks over time

Top level domains are the last part of the domain, e.g.

  • .com
  • .net
  • .org

and many, many others TLDs (Top Level Domains) and ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains)

ccTLDs backlinks
backlinks by ccTLDs (country code top level domains)

Some links can be set as “nofollow”. This means Google will not follow the link and your website will not receive a boost from the link.

No-follow links are not helpful to you for SEO purposes so it’s good to check what percentage of your backlinks are of this type.

do-follow and no-follow backlinks

Where are your backlinks coming from? Understanding this can help you understand where you content is having the most impact.

backlinks by country
Backlinks by country

How many external websites refer to your pages? What descriptions do they use to refer to your content?

Get detailed information about anchor text used to describe your content.

Analyze backlink by anchor text
Analyze backlink by anchor text

Anchor text can be used to boost your SEO so it’s well worth spending time to write good anchor text and to vary the types of anchor text you use when linking to other pages (especially pages on your own site).

Most linked to content

What pages on your website are linked to the most? Find out the number of backlinks and the number of referring domains link to each page on your website.

most linked to pages
Most linked to pages

Not every backlink has the same value. You want to be distinguish between good and bad backlinks.

Text / Image

Is your backlink from text or an image?


Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable text that links to your website.

Check to see if it’s relevant for your site.

Target URL

Find out which page on your website the backlink is for.

Dofollow / nofollow

Was it a follow or no-follow link?

This is important because it tells search engines whether to follow to your website or not.

UGC / Sponsored

Check new backlink parameters recently introduced by Google.

Update your backlinks report frequently to ensure you have the latest information.

SE Ranking - backlinks checker update backlinks
SE Ranking – Backlinks checker

From the screenshot above you can see it’s easy to update your backlinks. Depending on your SEO tool and plan you will be able to update multiple websites you manage.

You are not limited to checking on only your own website. Why not check up on your competitors websites?

Find out:

  • Number of backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Dofollow / nofollow ratio

This information can give you ideas on how to do outreach. Maybe you can get some backlinks from the websites linking to your competitors.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to keep track of external links to your website, typically called “backlinks”. They are an important ranking signal for Google and will affect your ranking position.

You will need to use an SEO tool to monitor your backlinks. Various tools are available, I use SE Ranking and can recommend it – especially for people beginning on their SEO journey.

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monitor your backlinks

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