Imagine some large respectable online magazine linking to your website. Sounds nice, right? Many new visitors, more trust from Google search engine — amazing!
But what if it’s not really respectable — but just a junk platform full of various random links? Does it still sound so nice?
It’s really helpful to know who exactly links to your website — and, of course, what to do with this information.
When some website links to yours, it doesn’t only potentially boost your traffic. Besides, it’s an important point of search engine optimization.
In very simple words, when Google sees that many respectable platforms link to your site, it considers you as a trustworthy source. So, it might give you better rankings in the search results.
However, when backlinks come from spammy or irrelevant sources, they may negatively affect your rankings. Sometimes, having too many toxic backlinks may result in the worst Google penalty: your site is deleted from search rankings at all.
How to Know Who Links to My Website: Tools
Okay, I got it! I need to urgently check who has backlinks leading to my website pages. How to do it?
There are many tools that can help you. We’ve picked the top popular and easiest ones to show you the workflow.
Google Search Control
Google offers a tool allowing you to find all sources that have links pointing to your website.
Using the Google Search Control, you can get a list of all sites that link to yours — like here:
What do the results mean? Let’s straighten out:
- You have overall 14,200 backlinks leading to your site — from the whole web
- Most of them come from a single source — Site1.com.
- Site1.com has 4,789 pages containing a link to your website
- Your website has 2 pages that Site1.com links to.
You can analyze the rest of the linking sites the same way: how many linking pages they have and how many of your pages they target.
Besides, you can check your most linked pages, top linking sites, and the list of the top popular backlinks.
What is important, Google Search Control is an absolutely free tool. However, you need to register and prove that you own the site you are checking.
With Ahrefs Backlink Checker, you can perform a quick and easy backlink analysis even without registration. Just enter your website address into the checker’s field, and you will see how many backlinks you have and how many domains contain links to your site.
Besides, the free version shows you the top 100 backlinks and top 5 pages that link to yours:
One of the best things about Ahrefs is that it’s very quick — probably the quickest way to get insights about your backlink profile.
What if you need more in-depth and detailed information, like the full list of backlinks? Sign-up and choose a subscription plan, then.
Prices start from €89 per month.
SEMRush is also a paid tool with some limited free features. It’s pretty similar to Ahrefs, and also gives you an idea of the number of all existing backlinks and linking sites:
The paid version costs from $119.95. If you subscribe, you get access to the whole list of backlinks and their sources.
Moz.Com Link Research
Moz.com is another popular semi-free tool. Like Ahrefs and Semrush, it allows you to check how many backlinks you have and sort them by domain and link types.
Besides, Moz can show your site’s Domain Authority (your whole resource) and Page Authority (a particular page of your website).
Domain Authority is a metric suggested exclusively by Moz: it’s not what Google checks officially. Still, it gives a pretty accurate prediction of how much Google might trust your website.
To get access to all backlinks you have, you will need to switch to one of Moz’s paid plans, starting from $99 per month. Good news: there is a 30-day trial version.
This tool is an extension for Google Chrome, and it quickly provides you with precise information about any page you want to check.
The free version gives you a brief overview like this:
To unlock access to the Backlinks tab with the full list of links, you will need to purchase a paid plan from €46,99 per month.
So, you now have a list of websites that link to yours and the backlinks themselves. What’s next?
Basically, the concept of your further analysis includes three main points:
- See if you have useful backlinks that can help your site get higher rankings
- Check if there are backlinks that may potentially harm your website rankings
- Get a hint of your future link-building strategy
Let’s first explore what you should check, and then we will tell you what to do with it, okay?
#1. Sites Quality
First, take a look at WHAT sites link to yours. Not all of them will be similarly useful, even if they are reliable, trustworthy platforms taking first places in the Google ranking.
It’s important that your backlinks are located at websites with relevant content. Will a link from the top popular automobile magazine be really valuable for your beauty blog?
It also makes sense to check how trustworthy the site with a backlink is. For example, you can do it with the Ahrefs Website Authority Checker and its Domain Rating — like here:
It’s pretty similar to Moz.com’s Domain Authority — so you can try both.
The most valuable backlinks come from relevant and highly-ranked sites or sites with a better ranking than yours.
Tip from Rizky Ramdandi, PropellerAds Publisher: If a backlink brings huge traffic from an irrelevant website that is not part of our area, then it’ll spoil our SEO performance because we’ll get a bad bounce rate.
An Anchor text is the visible part of the link — like this one:
This text is also important for Google rankings, so it must also be relevant to the linked content. Good backlink anchors should contain keywords — but look native and natural at the same time.
Let’s compare some good and…not so good examples:
|Linked Page||Good Anchor Texts||Poor Anchor Texts|
|Links to your article about LinkBuilding||Read more about link building practices||Click here to learn more about link building|
|Links to your blog on SEO main page||Here is a great resource about SEO||https://www.SEO-blog.org|
As you see, just a URL of your website or a very simple CTA like ‘Click Here’ won’t work out well.
The backlink anchor should give Google an idea of what keywords are relevant to your site.
How on Earth will Google understand it by the ‘Click here’ backlink?
#3. Sites Under the Google Filters
Google can block your site if you fail to follow its policies. It means it can restrict access to your content, hide you in search results, or show various warning alerts to users trying to enter your source.
The same can happen with websites that link to you.
Backlinks from filtered websites are not only useless but can also do you harm: you risk falling out of Google’s favor, too!
#4. DoFollow/NoFollow Links
You already know that Google analyzes your site backlinks. Its search robots check its anchors, and relevance — and decide if this link can give you higher search positions.
However, Google doesn’t include all the backlinks in its check.
Links with a special rel=”nofollow” tag are not counted in your rankings. In fact, they are completely useless for your SEO. However, they might still bring you new visitors — if this link is published by some large platform with great volumes of traffic.
As you might have guessed, a NoFollow link at some spam site won’t be harmful to you.
And how to know if a link is a DoFollow or NoFollow? There are three super-easy ways how to do it:
1. Check the page source
Click the right mouse button at any place on the page: you will open the HTML code. Find the link you need in this code, and check if it has the rel=”nofollow” tag after it. If it doesn’t, the link is DoFollow, otherwise is not.
Here are these 2 steps:
2. Download the Strike Out Nofollow Links Chrome Extension
3. Check them with Moz.com
The tool we already mentioned instantly indicates if the link is NoFollow. You can even sort all links by the NoFollow tag and get the full list of them, or, on the contrary, exclude them from your search:
#5. Potentially Dangerous Links
Black-hat SEO still exists. It means dishonest optimization methods, not approved by Google. Link farms are one of them: such platforms are created only for building links.
Found a link farm, or some spam/adult site linking to your source? It’s not a good sign. Sometimes it means you are attacked by your competitors.
What can they do? Create links to your site so that it looks like you are promoting using black-hat methods. If they succeed, your website can be filtered by Google and won’t appear in organic search results anymore.
#6. Broken URLs
Suppose someone links to your site and this link happens to lead to a 404-page. It means you have a broken URL!
The main issue here is not that a user won’t reach your page using the backlink and you lose a part of the potential traffic. Besides, it spoils Google’s attempts to evaluate your keywords and makes a good backlink basically useless.
Okay, and how many backlinks should you have? And how many poor links might become an issue?
In fact, there are no precise figures. Some SEO specialists claim you need to have about 50 backlinks to your main webpage and approximately 100 backlinks for every other website page to be competitive. The others suppose that 15-20 backlinks are enough, especially for the new sites.
What all of the experts say en masse, is that the quality of your backlinks is much more important. You will profit from 10 relevant backlinks much better than from 100 mentions at some spammy sites.
Speaking about toxic backlinks, there’s no particular number, too. Even hundreds of them might be absolutely safe for you — thanks to Google smart algorithms that can simply skip such backlinks when counting your rankings.
A pro tip: analyze the backlink profile of your competitors who are ranked higher on Google. It will help you get an idea of the best number of backlinks you should have in your niche. You can do it with Ahrefs, Semrush, or other online tools.
Anyway, you can’t just leave what you found out as it is: there’s always space for improvement.
After you analyzed your backlinks as we recommended above, you need to take some further steps. As you already know from the previous part, backlinks can be either valuable or toxic.
Let’s sum it up:
|Good, valuable links||Bad, toxic links|
|Located at a relevant trustworthy source||Located at a site that has nothing to do with your topic or a farm link|
|The link source is not filtered by Google||The link source is under the Google filter|
|Have the right anchor SEO-wise||Have a poor or over-optimized anchor|
Suppose that armed with this checklist, SEO tools, and our analysis recommendations, you found out you have 150 good backlinks and 50 bad backlinks.
What shall you do next?
Don’t let them just exist! Get the most of the valuable sites that link to yours and from your most linked pages.
Here are several best practices.
Create Profitable Relationships
If you found that most of your 150 good backlinks come from a relevant established site, the best idea is to create more backlinks with it.
Most likely, a source that often links to yours won’t mind mentioning your website again in the future. You can even agree to some mutual posting — and link to each other regularly.
Get the Most of Your Best Content
With the tools we showed you above, you can find the most linked pages of your site. In other words, you can clearly see which parts of your content are the most attractive.
What shall you do with it? Pretty obviously, try to create more of such content. Besides, make sure that the most linked pages are still actual:
- Check that you don’t have outdated information
- Make sure that the page works fine and doesn’t show a 404 Error
- Fix broken URLs if you found some
- Update your content if needed
As we already mentioned, you don’t always need to do anything with them. However, sometimes you do. It’s not that hard, don’t worry — let’s straighten it out.
Check if They Are Really Harmful
Not all bad backlinks can do you harm. The thing is that Google is smart enough to tell low-quality links from good ones — and just ignore them in your overall score. Besides, you can take no care of the following links:
- If they are located on pages not indexed by Google
- If they have a NoFollow attribute
The rest of the bad links can be potentially harmful, so you have two ways how to get rid of them.
A tip from Rizky Ramdandi, PropellerAds Publisher: I believe if the bad backlinks go above 30% of total backlinks then we need to improve the situation urgently.
If you see a couple of backlinks that you don’t want to have, just contact these websites and ask to delete them. In many cases, it works out fine, and the site owners are ready to do you a favor.
You can also ask to change anchors in the backlinks if you find them useful but don’t like the text.
Use the Disavow Google Tool
If it takes too much time to delete the links, or you can’t contact website owners, you have a last resort: the Disavow Google Tool.
It works in a very straightforward way:
- You create a text file with the list of links you want to disavow
- You go to the Disavow tool
- You download your list
- You wait for a couple of weeks until Google accepts your request and stops considering them when auditing your website
Note what Google says about this tool:
So, be careful and don’t disavow every single link that seems suspicious to you!
Fun fact: some black-hat SEO webmasters can try to blackmail you like this:
You shouldn’t worry about it much — it’s pretty unlikely they will really waste time spoiling your rankings. Still, it makes sense to monitor your backlinks a bit more often than you usually do after such a message.
If you feel that you need more high-quality backlinks, here you go! Remember that link building is a long and pretty difficult process — but with the right approach, it will pay off!
Here are the two checklists with the best tips on expanding your backlink profile and things you should avoid.
- Find relevant platforms with content similar to yours
- Try sticking to popular sources that have the same or more visitors than yours
- The older the platform is, the more valuable it is for your link-building
- Check if the site is ranked by Google and has a good Domain Authority
- Create unique content that will attract users to your site
- Be pro-active: submit your outreach articles or suggest link exchange with valuable platforms
A tip from Ramu Chelloju, PropellerAds Publisher: My link structure strategies include creating infographics and guest advertisements.
- Don’t purchase links — it’s prohibited by Google Policies
- Avoid leaving links to your site in comments: they might either be marked as NoFollow or spam
- Don’t waste your time on backlinks on social networks like Reddit or Facebook: such platforms always mark all links as NoFollow
- Be careful with user-generated content platforms: backlinks on them might be regarded as spam by Google
A tip from Monty Mehta, PropellerAds Publisher: I don’t usually build links for my website intentionally. I prefer writing good content instead — so people automatically link my site to their sites.
We hope you now learned the basics of dealing with backlinks. Good luck with your first SEO steps!
Still, we need to remind you that working on your content is the first thing you need to focus on — so don’t rely solely on SEO. Even the best practices will barely help without unique articles, engaging content, or a user-friendly layout.
Check out our blog for more tips — or start getting profit from your site right now!