HowTo – Link Back Checking And Tools

alinkGetting linkbacks to your site is an important way to build traffic. Understanding which linkbacks are generating that traffic can often be as difficult as getting the link in the first place.

So, how do you know if people are linking to your content?

If you run your site using a popular CMS application like WordPress you can allow trackbacks within your post. They are listed below your content if you choose to display them and this allows you to trade links.

If you decide not to allow trackback links then your CMS may include a widget in your dashboard that will show incoming links .  This widget may be based on lookups on popular search engines like google or yahoo or it could identify pingbacks when someone includes a link about your site within their content.

Website Statistics

If you need to look outside of your CMS software for answers then you will need to find a good statistics program.  Most website hosts now provide raw log files for your domain and applications that can read and graph this data.

Unfortunately many weblog analyzers are lacking and only show rudimentary statistics. They are often best used for counting unique visitors and page views but even this information can be misleading.

Some statistic software will give false information often counting includes and images or other content as multiple hits when really it is only a single page view. By false I mean not that the data is a Hit vs a page view but that the software can not judge the difference.

For this reason you are probably best off to install your own statistics program that will require you to add code at the bottom of your page that will trigger or gather data for the statistics program.

Offsite Analytic Software

The use of remote data gathering is one  way that hosted blogers can gain access to their visitor data. Google offers a free service as do many other companies. To best understand the features of each you should signup and test the results yourself.

What Website Data Do You Need?

Statistics software can gather quite a bit of information at the time the visitor reads your page. You can collect information about the visitors location,  browser type, operating system… all information that is cute to look at but the following list is what you need if you are optimizing your site.

Page Views – The number of full pages that have been loaded and a count of each page individually.

Bounces – This is when a visitor hits only a single page on your site and leaves.

Referring URL – This is the url that the visitor clicked to get to a page on your site. This is important so you can understand who is linking to you.

Session Duration – The amount of time people spend on your site.

Exit URL – This is the last page that your visitor reads on your site. With proper link formation and a utility ap you can also gather exit links or what links your visitor is clicking to get to outside sites.

Unique Visitors – This is the number of people that visit your site and should be examined against your Page Views.

Referring URLs are the Key to checking Links to your site.

Once you have gathered a few days or weeks of data you will be able to run it against your web log analyser software to extract your incoming Referrer Urls.

The first thing you want to do is strip out the referrers from your own internal pages.

After you do this you want to let your log program sort the referrers by number of incoming links.

At this point you should have an accurate picture of where your visitors are coming from.

For most of us our largest number of referrers will be from search engines.

Next may be any ping or published links such as plugins that pump your post titles and urls to Twitter or Digg.

Human Incomming Links

After this group you will have a number of sites that simply link to your content because they read your page and are using you as a reference. This is probably your most valuable group of incoming links.

Every once in a while you should visit some of these sites and see if there is a way that you can partner or exchange links. Most likely if they allow you to place a link on their site you are going to get a nofollow link but even so this could be better because you have a higher chance that the visitor is real and not a bot.

Check our other howtos on log analysers and check the availability of software within your hosting companies control panel.

Free is often fine but remember some software is just not up to the job of giving you exactly what you need because they are writing for a larger audience of users that just want some simple data about their site.