Quality inbound links are an essential element of Web site marketing and search engine optimization programs to increase traffic and online sales. The greater the number of relevant and authoritative links to a Web page, the greater the potential for higher search engine rankings and qualified traffic.
In fact, an impressive four of the top five ranking factors involve inbound links:
- Keyword focused anchor text from external links: 73% very high importance
- External link popularity: 71% very high importance
- Diversity of link sources: 67% very high importance
- Trustworthiness of the domain based on link distance from trusted domains: 66% very high importance
Conversely, one of the most negative ranking factors is link acquisition from known link brokers or sellers. (This is something my SEO agency, TopRank, has never engaged in. We focus instead on earning links through creative content promotions, social media and online public relations.)
Tracking links to your Web pages — and those of your competitors — is a major part of any SEO strategy. Fortunately, a host of free and paid tools exist to provide a comprehensive looks at where your Web pages stand. Since link-building is so important, here are 5 tools for tracking inbound links small business marketers can use to get a leg up on the competition:
1. Yahoo! Site Explorer Yahoo! Site Explorer is a popular, free tool for analyzing and tracking inbound links for users’ own and their competitors’ sites. Users can:
- Determine the number pages within a domain indexed by SLURP, Yahoo’s search engine crawler
- Explore each page to determine inbound links for each
- Exclude inbound links from the domain
- Exclude inbound links from the subdomain
- Export results into a TSV file
2. Page Inlink Analyzer Page Inlink Analyzer is a tool created by Eric Miraglia that leverages the Yahoo Site Explorer tool mentioned above in a more useful interface that combines a left side column listing of indexed pages for the site being researched and the inbound links to the focus URL in the right column. This allows the user to quickly research the inbound links to each page of a particular site. For each inbound link the page level and domain level inlink counts are reported as well as the number of Delicious bookmarks (with a link to view them) for each link and the associated keyword tags. The Page Inlink Analyzer tool is free.
3. pluginSEO Beta Linking Tools pluginSEO is a service in Beta that works to simplify SEO and linking tasks by having users input keywords and competitor URLs to generate advice including link building suggestions. Link features include:
- The Reactor:Links page makes suggestions
- My Links shows inbound links to your own site
- Competitor links documents inbound links to the competing sites entered
- Link suggestions provides a visual listing of new linking opportunities displayed below
pluginSEO is in Beta and is now offering free trials.
4. SEOBook toolbar – This free toolbar for Firefox (with registration) offers a number of useful metrics about the page you’re looking at a well as inbound links.