How to Find and Monitor Inbound Links

By Tate Handy

An inbound link, or backlink, is any URL, video, or image on a site other than yours that will bring a user back to your site if clicked. A backlink profile, then, is the compilation of all of these mentions from around the web.

Links pointing to your site from other websites can improve your traffic and rankings if they are from quality, authoritative sites. Links from low quality or spammy sites are not following Google’s link quality guidelines and will likely hold your rankings back, or even get your site penalized.

In September of 2016, Google rolled out what Moz calls a “gentler” Penguin algorithm whose purpose is to devalue these low quality links instead of penalizing sites that have built them in the past.

Google has since rolled out several additional algorithm updates. The latest one happening at the end of July 2021. The search giant warned that any sites partaking in spammy link building tactics could see rankings change. The links most likely impacted by this change will be sponsored, guest, and affiliate links.

Ways you can Find Inbound Links and Monitor your Profile

The free options usually offer these metrics:

  • List of backlink URL’s
  • Anchor text of those links
  • Authority score

The paid options are much more robust. But these SEO tools offer the following, in addition to, the above metrics:

  • Enhanced background on your backlink profile
  • Link monitoring over time
  • More detailed reporting
  • Breakdowns of anchor text pointing to different pages on your site
  • Flags for potential bad links
  • Multitude of extra authority ranking metrics
  • Ability to tag links and create notes to stay organized
  • Tag clouds, distributions, graphs, charts, and many other metrics

Many paid inbound link analysis options and SEO tools have free trials so you can see what you’d get for opting in for one of them. You can pick one that is right for your size and needs- most paid options will give you a lot of good data to help you make the right decisions on your backlink profile checker.

A good place to start is to take a look at Google Webmaster Tools, which allows you to download a list of inbound links that Google has for you. They do not always have the most up-to-date history, so using a different backlink checker can be useful to get the full picture.

Free Backlink Profile Checkers

1. Backlink Watch – Free

Backlink Watch Preview

Since this option is free, it does take a while for the backlinks to pop up. It will only check your first thousand backlinks, so if you have a larger profile, you’ll have to find another way to see all the backlinks.

The search has to be complete before you can search the tabs, but for a preliminary report you’ll find everything you need here: the URL of the page with the link to your site, the anchor text of the link, and a few other metrics such as Pagerank, and OBL, which stands for outbound links.

Backlink checker preview

Once the report ends, you can click on “All External Backlinks” to see all the sites pointing to your site. You can also browse the other data provided, and even export to a .csv file to look at the data in a spreadsheet. This way if you are going to make any changes to your backlink profile, you can keep track of the changes in the sheet so you can reference them later.

2. Web Me Up – Unlimited Free Trial For 3 Reports Per Month.

Homepage of SEO powersuite link explorer

Once you’ve completed your free signup you can type the domain of your URL into the search box and click “Check backlinks,” the completed search will take you to a summary screen.

Nex, we want to take a look at the “Backlinks” section of WebMeUp:

WebMeUp backlink tool screenshot

The columns are the URL of the page your link is on, the anchor text and URL that it points to, if the link is “dofollow” or “nofollow,” and when it was first found. If you like the service you can pay for more metrics but this is a good base that will tell you what your backlink profile is about.

Paid Backlink Profile Checkers

1. Cognitive SEO – Paid, Free 14 Day Trial, Take A Tour

Cognitive SEO site explorer home page

Cognitive SEO features lots of metrics and is recommended for sites that may need to recover from a Google penalty. It can distinguish good links from bad ones and helps you keep track of the ones that you’ve contacted or disavowed. When you type in your URL into the link explorer and hit search, you’ll see a result like this with a breakdown of all the backlinks you want to monitor.

Cognitive SEO graphic result example

This also includes a profile authority as well, which shows you the percentage of good, average, and low quality links that exist in your profile. If you click on the “Referring Domains” tab you can see only the external backlinks to your site.

2. Ahrefs – Paid, Free Trial

Ahrefs backlink checker does require a paid subscription, but you can test it out with their free trial.

ahrefs site explorer screen shot

Once you register for your free account you can enter your domain and hit search. There are many metrics and different options to choose from, but for the backlink profile you just want to focus on Referring Domains.

Ahrefs have a lot of quality metrics to show: domain rank, Alexa rank and backlinks count, and the domain of the backlink.

 3. Open Site Explorer – Paid, Free 30 Day Trial Of Moz Pro, Suite of Tools and Knowledge

Moz link explorer home page screen shot

Once you enter your domain into the URL box and hit search you’ll see the following details.

Moz link analysis results

You’ll get an overview of the Domain Authority (DA) of your url, the total number of linking domains that link to your website, as well as the total number of inbound links. 

This screen allows you to filter by a number of factors including inbound links, linking domains, anchor text, and top pages. 

Moz one line link domain analysis button options

If you select Limit Results “to one link per domain” you’re about to get a clearer picture of where your inbound links are coming from without sorting through a bunch of links from the same domain. 

While having multiple internal links on your website is helpful for relevancy, they won’t help you determine what type of inbound or incoming links your site has from other sites. The columns in the Moz link explorer report show the URL of the websites linking to your page, the anchor text, Moz page authority and domain authority.

4. Majestic SEO – Paid, Free Sign up and Trial

Majestic SEO tool website homepage

Once you enter your URL into their main webpage, you’ll be taken for a free “trial” of their backlink checker. Below you’ll see what the free report looks like: 

Majestic SEO tool example of a link analysis report

The free version of Majestic gives your total number of backlinks, referring domains, referring IPS, and subnets. The backlink report dives further into the types of links your website has, as well as direct links, no follow links and much more.

Majestic's backlink analysis report

There is also a Trust Flow metric which can show you how authoritative your site is for the different categories that are set up. You can also create reports based on your backlink profile and choose the metrics you want to examine further.

In review, if you just want a list of the backlinks you have, a free option or a trial works just fine. If you’re looking to track your backlinks profile over time or recover from a Google penalty, then one of the paid options might be your best bet. If you just need a few reports, you can get away with the cheaper plans and not have too much invested.

4. Buzzsumo – Paid, Free Sign up and Trial

Buzzsumo SEO and link checker tool, website homepage

While they do offer free backlink checking, there is a limit. With a paid subscription to Buzzsumo, you get unlimited access to not only backlink information but the social shares of those links. 

Buzzsumo report for paid subscription

Start Checking for Inbound Links

Taking some time now to keep up with your backlinks profile can save you from any penalties that could potentially undo all of your hard work if spammy sites are linking to you. Save yourself the future time, money, and headaches by making checking your backlinks profile a regular habit and a priority in your digital marketing strategy.

Want more information on backlinks and how Digital Third Coast handles link building SEO? Head over to our SEO services page and speak to one of our SEO experts.