Search Engine Optimization: The Backlink FAQ

As reported by Problogger and discussed on WebmasterWorld, the Google backlink update for September is underway and will probably be complete by the time you read this.

I checked my backlink stats for Entrepreneur’s Journey and I went from 42 up to 170, which is good but expected given I’ve been working a lot on backlink development in the last few months plus some help from my fellow bloggers linking as well (thanks guys).

If you want to do a backlink check in Google on your site all you need to do is type in link:www.yourdomain.com into Google. Just replace the yourdomain.com part with the URL for your site or webpage. I also recommend you check out the backlink numbers for popular and competing websites so you can get an indication of how far you have to go. Don’t get too discouraged if your numbers are a lot lower than other sites, just remember to keep working on your sites every day and over time backlinks will build up.

Backlink Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I care about backlinks?

Backlinks are important because each time someone links to your site it counts as a “vote” for it, moving it higher up in the search engine results pages (SERPS). As part of a search engine optimization strategy you should aim to build backlinks up over time. The more backlinks you accumulate the better placed in search engines like Google, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search your site will be.

How do I find out how many backlinks my site has?

Each search engine has backlink look-up tools that you can test by typing in link:www.yourdomain.com into the search form. Just replace the yourdomain.com part with the URL for your site or webpage. You need to use linkdomain:www.yourdomain.com for the Yahoo! search engine and you can use either tag for the MSN Search Engine.

My understanding is that the linkdomain tag will provide all the sites linking to your entire domain name including subpages/directories, while the link tag will only show backlinks for the one webpage. Generally you should find a higher total for the linkdomain look-up.

Why are my Google backlink numbers so low compared to Yahoo! and MSN backlink counts?

No one really knows the answer to this except perhaps Google employees. I’ve asked a lot of web marketing experts and everyone has theories but so far we have no concrete answers. Most people report that Google backlinks are often a list of the least relevant (low PageRank) backlinks or a miss-mash collection of random backlinks. I initially thought perhaps only what Google deemed as authority site backlinks would be listed but so far this has been disproved because plenty of obviously non-authority sites show up in backlinks.

Another quandary you will probably come across is sites with a good PageRank, like a 5 or 6, having very low backlink counts in Google. It boggles the mind trying to figure out what Google is doing so generally I advise people not to make any assumptions based on the Google backlink counts. Watch them to see if they go up each update and leave it at that.

If you want a good list of the sites linking back to you use Yahoo! or MSN search instead. I’ve been monitoring my backlinks in Yahoo! on a near daily basis and my count goes up 20-40 per day. Whether this is because Yahoo! is indexing more sites or I’m getting more links (probably both) I don’t know, but it’s still fun to watch.

As a comparison, Google currently gives this blog 170 backlinks. Yahoo! reports more than 1600. Part of this is because of my blog commenting activities. Many blogs use the rel=”nofollow” tag so the comments I have left on other blogs with a backlink to Entrepreneur’s Journey will not be followed by Google and won’t count as a backlink. I’m not sure but I don’t think Yahoo! and MSN are taking notice of the rel=”nofollow” tag as yet so blog commenting is showing up in their backlink indexes.

How can I get more backlinks?

In so many, many ways. You might like to try my upcoming “How to build traffic for free” course for a good lesson on backlink development (stay tuned to this channel), but in a nutshell you can do the following sorts of things:

  • Do link exchanges with other sites and blogs
  • Make comments on other blogs – contribute to the conversation, don’t SPAM
  • Post in forums
  • Post in newsgroups
  • Use article marketing
  • Build more websites

If you do all of the above you will slowly build up a huge network of backlinks. Remember your reputation counts, so don’t don’t simply post links to your site all over the web like a spammer. Take part in the conversation and build a good reputation at the same time as you build backlinks.

I’ve heard I can get banned from Google for “bad” backlink building practices?

First let me say that I have never spoken to anyone that was penalised by any search engine for building backlinks to their sites. Now if you are building say 1000 link farm websites that all point to your site that is an obvious recipe to get banned. Also you should remember that relevancy is just as important in a backlink strategy – you don’t want to chase links from sites with content on politics if you are selling cheese. There just isn’t any relevance (hmm…or maybe there is?).

I have read claims that if you suddenly get a huge bunch of backlinks in a short period of time you might get into trouble. Since I know of no free way to get a lot of links quickly besides using what is called “blackhat” search engine practices (software that builds fake pages to trick search engines for example is considered a blackhat SEO practice – and this will likely get your site banned…eventually), I doubt you will ever figure out a way to get into trouble. I believe it’s certainly possible, but not likely.

If you stick to natural linking process and over time expand your website patiently and methodically you will have success. If there is one thing that has been proven online over and over is that if you spend a few years building a quality site you will get results. Most of the most successful sites I know of now are managed by guys that started writing content and building backlinks back in 2003 at least, some earlier in that. If you want to be another one of these success stories in 2007 stick to your long term goals and work hard over time.

Yaro Starak
Backlink Builder

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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62 Comments

  • Yaro,

    This is a great article and I want to thank you for it. I’m in the process of starting blog myself and I’m trying to come up to speed on the finer points of generating traffic for it. The quality of the articles and the amount of content your able to publish amazes me. I don’t know how you find the time everyday. I found your podcast about a month ago and through that your blog. I look forward to hearing more podcasts and reading more articles.

    Best Regards,
    Jason Darrow

  • Hi Jason, No problem, I’m glad you liked the article. I have another backlink discussion article coming out tomorrow that you will probably like as well.

    So how did you come across my podcast Jason?

  • Yaro,

    I was searching for new podcasts on podcastalley.com based on the keywords “small business” and “Entrepreneur” but didn’t find anything. I found it very hard to believe that there was nothing out there so I did a Google for the same keywords including “podcast”. Google turned up your site and I’m happy it did. You have motivated to try some new things during my commutes to my corporate cubicle in Providence, RI USA. 🙂

    Jason

  • You hit the nail right on the head Yaro with “Most of the most successful sites I know of now are managed by guys that started writing content and building backlinks back in 2003 at least, some earlier in that.”

    That’s exactly the position I found myself in right now. I have had sites going off and on since 1999 (more seriously since 2002) and I always spent a good 4-5 hours a week (even now) trying to get links without any thought to right now (2005). So when I got serious with my blog … bang! one day I had a PR of 5 and had a ready-made backlink dating back years.

    And during this period (1999-2004) I didn’t know what I was really doing – just getting the link for the right-here, right-now … and now I know: look for the rewards 2 years from now … hence I expect I should be a massive success by 2007 just as you should be 😉

  • Yaro, thanks for putting all of this great information in one place!

  • Hey, this is great information. I’m going to post another link for you on my blog: Business Marketing Tips, Tools, & Ideas. This article is relevant to marketing, and that’s what my site is about! Way to go! 🙂

  • […] The big advantage of buying a site is you don’t have to establish an audience and wait for the site to be indexed within search engines. Most webmasters, even those that don’t know their SEO from their XML, will understand the benefit of link exchanges. Even the most poorly managed sites should have some form of backlink network developed and return a result in the major search engines. It may not be a top ten search result but it will be a result ready for you to optimize and improve. […]

  • This link:www.yourdomain.com is really a very good syntex for checking back links of any website. Thanks for the useful information. I really appreciate you for sharing this syntex with us.

  • […] On the advice of Yaro Starak’s Beginners Guide to Backlinks, I have recently taken the bold step of submitting a couple of articles to Ezine @rticles. […]

  • It’s odd how links that I know exist, that I know are on Google fail to show up when using link:URL. Any idea what up with that?

  • I know for a fact that I have over 100 back links as I have spent the last month or so writing to forums, contributing to conversations, exchanging links with page ranks 3-5, but for some reason only ONE backlink is found in google!

    Yet over 160 in Yahoo… any ideas please tell me.
    http://www.casino-wins.co.uk is the website.

  • Yes it is true that Yahoo and MSN give you more back link sthan google why??? Who knows I so many backlinks in Yahoo and MSN I rank well for all searches but in Google its not so, but still rank well for most keywords of products I sell

  • […] You can also use search engines to specifically search for inbound links, also called “backlinks. You can specifically search for links to your blog, using the right terminology. This is explained in detail in the article Search Engine Optimization: The Backlink FAQ on the Entrepreneur’s Journey blog. Check it out. […]

  • […] You have to remember that Google treats each webpage as a single page, not as a part of a website, so when it comes to linking to your own pages it’s very important you take great care to optimize your keyword linking methods. The beauty of this technique is that you can control it, it’s an on-page technique that in lets you add backlinks to your own pages (What is a backlink and why should you care? Read this – The Backlink FAQ and this – Monitoring Your Backlinks – How Popular Is Your Website?). […]

  • Our site http://www.manhattancomedy.com is also listed very high on Yahoo, with a large number of backlinks, but very few on Google – not even the major ones are listed.

    I have noticed, however, that when I put a space after the link: my domain.com, that I get a much larger number of backlinks. However, Google only seems to recognize the smaller number when I don’t put in the space. How do I rectify this???

  • I started a blog, so I’m pretty new on this whole SEO idea. I found your article relating to backlink is very helpful. i have one question regarding backlink, when i start interacting with other site and have my site posted along with my comments. does the backlink automatically link to my site or do i have to do something within the html file?

  • Nice article. Search engines will not give you an entirely accurate number of sites linking to yours. Google is the most inaccurate. Tim Mayor, of Yahoo, at a Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in San Jose said webmasters always checking backlinks was a drain on their servers. They created http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/. You can download The Tattler (http://www.webguerrilla.com/down-loads/tattler.zip) to compile the backlinks information from SiteExplorer.

    Another great tool I often use is http://www.linkhounds.com/link-harvester/backlinks.php. You can select to use Yahoo, MSN or both to check backlinks. This is very useful to find out who is linking to your competitors.

    Best advice I could offer is spend your time creating a reason for people to link to your site. Then promote your site.

  • Yaro,

    Another great post, however I have a question for you. Do you know of any forums or sites that bring people together specifically so they can “trade” links with each other? I don’t know if this would end up causing a “Google ban” but it sure seems like a simple way to efficiently and easily swap links.

    Brian

  • Brian- most forums (check out the resources section of this site for forum links) have people asking to do link exchanges.

    I know of no dedicated forum just for that but usually you can just make a post in any webmaster forum and get a response.

    Generally *forced* link exchanges are not a great way to improve traffic rankings anymore. They are not a waste of time, but the return on investment of time is pretty bad.

  • Yaro,

    What excellent information. I’m so new to all this and your articles are ‘showing me the way’. Thank you!

  • Glad you liked it Diane 🙂

  • I’m learning new things everday. Great information! Thanks Yaro

  • I appear to have produced a higher google ranking on one of my sites by simply adding meaningful ‘title’ and ‘alt’ tags to my inbound and internal links? Has anyone else noticed this ?

  • Hi John – I think you would be hard pressed to actually prove the correlation between changing the title and alt tags and your pagerank. It’s the incoming links that affect your ranking, not what words you use in the title of your pages.

  • I think your article is interesting. My site was just launched, your article is great help for me to get more traffic. thanks.

  • Hello everyone, this is the first time i read this journey, for sure, backlinks are very important, obe of our sites http://www.jnbwebpromotion.nl/ has never be optimized but has all first page positions in google.nl. However, up till today, i never red an article from Google or any other search engine where they proof that only relevant backlinks counts. Meaning, the proof that when a hotel related web site is linked to a carshop web site is still nicely linked and doing well in search engines. If there is, please let me know i’m glad to read it.

    Regards,
    John Bertrand

  • One reason why Google shows much less links to your web site is because this pages might not be proper been indexed. A good point to increase backlinks is to go very deep to all sites that has links to you even in other search engines and submit them all again to search engines to be sure they all will be (re)indexed again.

    Regards,
    John

  • Yaro – Just came across your site, great content!!! I’ve spent an hour on it so far, and could be here for a while 🙂

  • Hi Yaro,
    Thanks for such an excellent article.
    I am in charge of web marketing for my company Patni Computer Systems.
    There is some problem with backlinks on my company website.
    When i type link:www.patni.com in Google, i do not get backlinks from internal subpages as results.But this is not the case with my competitors.(http://www.infosys.com)
    Can you guide me in identifying the problem and what should be done?

    regards,

    bhushan

  • When I use the link:DOMAINHERE search query in Google it never seems to return any results, however I’m not banned from Google, many of my pages are indexed in Google and it works fine on MSN or Yahoo searches, seems to me Google’s version of this tool is broken..

  • How does google determine if a page is relevant. Does it read the content, title or tags in a page?

  • Dewilde – it looks at all those things but some are more influential than others. The title is generally what search terms the article will rank for but all the content on the page counts.

  • […] There are instances of high PageRanked sites having little to no backlinks. Given that incoming links are one of the most important variables used in PageRank calculations you have to scratch your head and wonder how a site with no links could have a big green bar. Google’s own backlink lookup tool (see this article – Beginners Guide To Backlinks – for details) is another phenomenon that search engine experts often choose to ignore rather than try and evaluate. […]

  • I also noticed that- some very highranked sites don’t have that many links or pages indexed..
    our site TripCart has very few backlinks according to google and lots by yahoo- but we hardly get any traffic through yahoo..
    i was wondering about getting backlinks by forum posting, is it better to mention my site in the answer i give (and risk getting thrown out of the forum) or having an ancored text as my signature?

  • Yahoo! – Google = nofollow

    I recently noticed that my StumbleUpon top pages have quite a respectable PageRank at 4. I immediately posted links to my sites/pages and those I run. I saw that SU was forcing rel="nofollow" into my code and investigated.

    I found this interesting experiment -> Nofollow: Yahoo! Still Doesn’t Follow and have subsequently noticed the effect, on my own pages.

    The nofollow device seems to be most widely used on site that wish to sell PageRank, which I find annoying. nofollow means link likely to be unrelated – on StumbleUpon one has ones own sub-domain and the forums I’ve been posting in have been closely moderated, of narrow context and, of course, my posts’re on-topic. 🙁 Ian

  • Great advise and explanation of back links. I again how found myself when searching for answers returning to your forum for the answers. Your website in general has the most useful information and tools out there on the net. Thanks and God Bless!

  • […] Yahoo Site Explorer recently got a whole lot cooler. Most people I speak to say they look to Yahoo as the most accurate representation of public backlink counts. If you are not clued in to why you should care about your backlinks start by reading why backlinks are important and my somewhat dated backlink FAQ. […]

  • […] here is that links are one of the most important things that you should take into consideration in search engine optimization. You should never take them for granted for they maybe so simple but they can do greater things for […]

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’ve been spending more hours reading your articles in your site rather than our own website. Your site is really informative. Thank you!

    I am very new in e-commerce and I’m working with a friend to make http://marksmotos.com an online classifieds for used motorcycles to be at least on page 10 in google search.

    My question is concerning back link. See, I’ve been doing a lot of blogs with typepad, blogger.com, livejournal.com, wordpress and many more blog sites (ex. http://marksmotos.typepad.com )

    Will blogging increase our chances of getting more back links? Do you recommend any good blog site? Is digg.com and del.icio.us really effective sites to get more back links for our site?

    I hope my questions are not too confusing for you.

    Thanks and MORE POWER

    Kyla
    Marksmotos.com

  • Hi Kyla,

    If you investigate further I think you will come to realize that yes, blogs do increase your potential for back links, but it’s not really something left for “chance” – it happens for a reason.

    If you have more questions like these try my forums (click the tab at the top). You get more responses there.

    Cheers,

    Yaro

  • Kyla

    Thaks Yaro for the prompt reply

    I’ll read more in your forums. Thanks for the links as well.

    🙂

    kyla

  • Hi Yaro,

    So far, as what you suggested, I investigated further, the blogs really helped. I hope you don’t mind me asking another question. What do you think about RSS feeds? I know you are familiar with the website Feedburner.com, but will it help us with our link promotion?

    By the way, on April 15-18 the Web 2.0 expo will be hosted here in San Franciso. Are you attending that event? And Oh Don’t worry I’m not a stalker 🙂 The web 2.0 expo is a big thing here in the bay area.

    thanks for your patience again.

    Kyla
    http://marksmotos.com

  • Hi Kyla – Feedburner is a great service and RSS is an essential tool to make available to your readers, but neither of them are specifically for link building. They might help in a very indirect manner by distributing your content to people, but link building is not the reason why you use RSS specifically.

    I’m in Australia, so no I won’t be in San Fran for that event. Have a good time though!

  • EXCELLENT!!!

    I have been looking for a blog that has quality content such as this. Very informative and useful to me as newbie to SEO.

    I hope you would write more related topics about SEO.

    I have read an article about content versus link building and I’m quite confused which among them is given much weight by the search engines.

    Would you know? I suppose YES!

    And could you give me more tips on how to increase our PR because I’ve been working on it for like a month and it seems no substantial effects happening to improve our ranking.

    I would highly appreciate if you could help me.

    You could write to me at: alex.amadure@infinit-o.com

    And you could check our website at http://www.infinit-o.com

    I pray that God may continue to bless you with further knowledge to share with.

    May the force be with you!!!

  • Anyone know when the next google update will take place?

  • Nice comments, another great tool to find relevant key phrases based on LSI is http://www.quintura.com, you find there synonyms of your targeted words, meaning words that SE’s also sees as semilar and relevant, from that point you can find other key phrases that are great for your backlink campaigns.

    Regards,
    John Bertrand

    http://www.jnbwebpromotion.com/

  • Thanks Yaro, at least now I found some answers as to why I have more backlinks in Yahoo than in Google.

    Good post.

  • Getting lots of quality backlinks is key to a successful business. It’s really hard to understand how Google really awards backlinks. I guess that’s what makes the Search Engine so intriguing, so unique.

  • Hi guys,

    Does anyone know if websites are being penalized by Google for purchasing paid links?

    We have recently experienced a drop in ranking with some our keywords and we suspect that this might be the reason.

    Tnx.

  • […] of top quality articles such as Education is The Key Ingredient to Success, Beginner Blogging and SEO Backlink FAQ. Yaro is an expert when it comes to online entrepreneurship. Which makes for great posts. […]

  • Nice tips… backlinks reall play a big part in SEO matter.

  • easy and difficult from backlink is so make me confused, sometimes done, sometimes not, but i appreciate with this article, u show me how to get, it’s all manual to do. If just make any article and posting day by day. is that increase web popularity? if yes, i will do. But sometimes i dont have any idea to reload the content of mine, so i’ll copy paste some articles and enclose articles source, is that dissapprove of blogger rules? what do u think?

  • the more i read your articles the more i wanted to learn more and improve my blog…i am still newbie in blogging and trying to put my affiliate programs on my blog hoping i could earn a living here…

    but i really like your articles and very informative. Had i read your site before i started blogging, i should have have started in a right way.

    But anyways, its never too late, right things can change.

    Thanks a lot and hope you can make comments on my blog.

  • You are up to 1,890 at link:www.entrepreneurs-journey.com now 😉 good work!

  • Hi! How about using Alexa to know your Backlinks it will be the same with the one you’ve mentioned above?

  • Thanks Yaro for this piece of work, my only query about backlinks is that I find it difficult to understand why it is neccessary building backlinks on websites where you have no business in, like you rightly said, why send backlinks to a political website whereby you sell cheese;
    lots of folks out there in the domain world sell backlinks technologies to folks and these same guys fall for some of them, I have seen some very REHASHED backlink technologist who sell to you web addresses with high PR and then tell you to place comments on those blogs or websites…. hhhmmm,
    why would I for example want to comment on a blog or website where you have the most wanted terrorist on the planet, or a situation you talk about a food recipe in india when you are not asian, for me building backlinks is all about credibility and until we get there, (hopefully) we’ll all make the web a better place!

  • Thanks Yaro for this article. I now have a clear understanding what backlinks to my website. I been trying to increase the pagerank of my website but I really couldn’t figure out how. I already tried reading a lot of articles but the more it confused me. I think this backlinks might also do some wonder to my website. I really hope so. Anyway, thanks a lot!

  • A great technique I’ve been reading about recently is guest posting to get backlinks while still helping others.. I might just try this 🙂

  • JP

    The thing you’ve heard about a pentaly for too many links doesn’t really kick in unless you are getting tens of thousands of links in a short period of time. I seriously doubt that any link building you do by hand will ever raise an alarm at big G HQ.

  • I didn’t know about using linkdomain to check my backlinks. It’s helpful to see a number so I can gauge my efforts.

  • Hmmmm, you have trouble finding nofollow blogs? 99.99% of all blogs are nofollow. Just go to the high PR ones, how hard is that?

    By the way, spam sucks and your methods are not effective, but then you didn’t ask about that…

  • @Denim You are right most blog are no-follow and its hard to find do-follow blog with high PR. Why any one give do-follow link from their High PR? Thats why this paid links concept is there.

    Have your own high pr page and get links from their or article submission is good practice to get links and sometime article page achieve 2-3 pr.

    Commenting is good to generate traffic.

  • Om

    Well forums can be of great help – but only problem are the SPAMMERS all over the place, which force webmaster to count even genuine comments are SPAM!

  • Yaro,

    Another good article, bouncing across a few them which are internally linked. Cheers again for the valid content. Hope you had a great new year in Oz! We were there last year, brilliant time at the Sydney bridge!

    Dereck 🙂

  • Reading some of your readers questions I would have thought it obvious that back links are the backbone of high page ranking in to-days world. I spend many hours bent over the keyboard adding my comments to relevant sites after reading though their posts. I have yet to use a system where a second party offers or sell a bunch of websites that have high ranked pages and have go follow links because its more interesting for me to find and post on these types of sites myself. It takes up a lot of my time doing it this way but at 66yrs old its either that or keeping pigeons.
    Your blog is an excellent source of information and I’ve bookmarked it for further use.

    Good luck

    Michael.

  • Don’t forget article writing and submission! I find this to work very well, but just make darn sure nothing written on YOUR site has been duplicated anywhere in any way.

  • […] http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/264/seo-backlink-faq/ « PurpleSlurple lets you add anchors where they are lacking for better linking Yaro on free directories » […]

  • thanks, Yaro. usefull info

  • Backlinks has been a confusing topic for me when it comes to getting my site noticed. This article cleared things up for me a little. Having reliable accurate information for individuals starting a business with a small marketing budgets has always been a major issue. So many places claim to build your backlinks but very few actually build quality links that are legitimate. You run into so many risks of Google penalizing you that I’ve found that its something I have to take on myself.

  • Being new to the web design backlink/ranking craziness, I do agree with the most recent comment about this process taking time. For small business owners, this is hard to swallow but you have to keep digging in everyday eventually get that success that we all look for.

  • Hi Yaro,

    Thank you for the article it was very informative. Be sure I will be returning to your website for more ideas.

    Thanks much,
    Julie

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