Linking Strategies

How To Find Who Is Linking To Your Website – Accurate and Free Backlinks Checker

Over the past few years, my website has ranked pretty high in for some great keywords but, I’ve noticed recently, my search engine ranks have started slipping. My theory for this occurrence is my articles and posts from a few years ago were seen as out-dated and no longer counted (although I could be wrong on this).

To counter this, I started building links through forum posts, articles, guest blogging and video posting. Keen to see if my efforts were paying off, I tried to figure out if my backlink count was increasing. My first stop was Google, where I used the [] command and found a very disappointing result – only 23 backlinks.

“Are you kidding me?” I thought.

Surely Google must have made a mistake. Many of the links that showed were old and there were very few backlinks from my recent link building efforts. I thought perhaps Google had not yet taken notice of the backlinks, so I waited a few weeks and tried again. The outcome was similar.

Frustrated with the results, I set out to find “the missing link.” I looked at free and paid backlinks checker software and each one showed totally different results.

I figured if I am having this issue, other people must be too. I searched for answers to see what others were doing. On most forums, the solution people offered were various backlink tools. Some even said, “don’t worry about the backlink number Google is showing, instead look at your rankings and see if they are increasing.”

OK, I thought, clearly there is no easy way to find the number of backlinks. I felt somewhat defeated and decided to let it go.

Then, a few days ago, I stumbled on a gem … a YouTube video of Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam Team, talking about backlinks. In the video, someone asked “How accurate is Google’s backlink check? Are all no-follow backlinks filtered out or why does Yahoo/MSN show more backlink results.” And Matt’s explanation was that Google only shows a random sample of backlinks through the [link:] feature. The reason for that is, if they showed all the backlinks, spammers and competitors could use it to reverse engineer someone’s ranking.

The great news is that, as a compromise, Google has come up with a solution. Simply register with Google Webmaster Tools and you can see the majority of backlinks that Google has indexed for your website. You will need to verify your site through the Webmaster Console and then:

1. On the webmaster tools homepage, click on your website.

2. On the left-hand menu, click ‘traffic’ and then click ‘links to your site.’

This page shows links that Googlebot has discovered during its indexing process as well as the backlink sources and the pages on your site with the most links. You can also see the most common anchor text found by Google.

Building backlinks should be part of your search engine optimization strategy, since Google sees them as ‘votes’ for your site. Google Webmaster Tools now offers a way for you to be able to see how many backlinks it has indexed for your website, so you can work out if your link building efforts are paying off.

Ivana Katz makes it easy for you to get your business online very quickly. If you’re looking for a professional and affordable website designer, visit and download a free website plan.

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Ivana Katz

Ivana Katz makes it easy for you to get your business on the Internet. If you're looking for a professional and affordable website designer, visit and download a free website plan or connect with Ivana on Facebook.


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  • Hi Ivana, Thanks for the great post but I have to disagree with you. What google show in the webmaster tool isn’t backlink you got from others’ site, but how many url of your site that indexed by google.

    I do want to know how many backlink I got and the resources too. But the only way to know it is from alexa.

    • Thanks for your comment Chello. Yes you can definitely see what pages Google has indexed of your website, but also the backlinks. If you go to Webmaster Tools, then click on your website, on the left handside you will see “Traffic”, click on that and you will see 3 options: Search Queries, Links to Your Site and Internal Links. Here is a video where Matt Cutts talks about it: Hope this helps.

  • No way! A random sample of backlinks?? That figures. Thanks a lot Ivana, I’ve always wondered about the strange results from the link: feature. I already started to use Webmaster tools but I’m a bit disappointed by the speed of updating. It seems that Google is not indexing the entire site every time, but only bits by bits. We have 404 errors coming from old pages and an old sitemap that have been removed weeks ago. I have tried all the options such as new sitemap, fetch as Google and block urls in robot.txt. Nothing worked. Anything we have overlooked? Thanks.

  • Hey Ivana,

    Your articles is simply awesome and I thank you for establishing clarity over something that has given me a lot of worries in the past! You answered exactly the kind of questions I had on my mind. I will be grateful if you could put an article together about sitewide links in the same clear and easy to understand way. I read a lot recently about how bad they are for the reputation of a site, but I wonder how many can be considered too many, and does that mean that we should avoid pasting a lot of links on one particular domain? There are a lot of free marketing sites which allow pasting of a large number of links onto their sites, and I don’t understand why that should be considered bad by google? If you have knowledge and understanding of this matter, I will be most grateful to hear it.

    • Thanks for your kind comments Bilka. I am glad to hear you are finding my articles useful. My understanding with site wide links is that they can only cause you problems if you have lots of them pointing to websites that are irrelevant or perhaps in another language. Here is a great video by Matt Cutts of Google who addresses the issue of site wide links.

  • Hi

    Thanks for this information. I have recently started a website and have been adding backlinks but had no idea where to look for them. Now I know!


    • Thanks for your comment Rummy. Remember backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They tend to have more weight in Google’s eyes, than reciprocal links (links both ways between two websites) as Google sees backlinks as votes for your site. They figured that if your website has good content people will link to it naturally.

  • Thanks Ivana. So good to have reliable information you can count on…like your posts. Very much appreciated. Backlinks can be a big mystery sometimes : )

    Warm Regards,

    • Thank you Linda. I appreciate your kind comment and I am glad my articles are helpful. It’s difficult to navigate the technology these days 🙂

  • Thank you for your explanation on widesite links Ivana, and for posting the video. My question is: if I post large number of urls on a website which allows brands to post all of their products urls, is that sitewide links and is this seen as a bad thing by google? These websites where I have pasted links are various general directories so they are not specific to my industry. Grateful for your reply.

  • Great piece of advise and useful tool.

    I’m slowly getting the hang of this link thing. Better late than never.

    • Good for you Jon. Starting is often the hardest thing to do. Once you get moving, it all falls into place. And the good news your competitors are probably still thinking about it.

  • Great article. My website is only showing 1 link grom google (After years of optimization – How disheartening is that please?!!? Anyways, will try out what you suggest and see what results appear.

    Tom. X

  • U fortunately Google and Bings web master tools don’t give a very accurate picture of your sites inbound links, for instance both say my site has roughly 600 ish links, but infact it has over 7000.

    To get a more accurate gauge on the amount of inbound links, use free / paid services such as ahrefs and seomoz to get a full understanding of your sites link profile. Pull reports from each service, de dupe against each other and come out with a definitive list of links.

  • So Ivanana, can you answer me?
    “How time to Google index your backlink when you start again link building?”

    Thank You,
    Best Regards
    Irham Maulana

    • Irham, are you asking how long will it take for Google to index your backlinks? In my experience it has been that usually within 2-4 weeks my backlink numbers increase show up in my Webmaster tools.

  • The faster way to check backlinks is to use some professional tools, like ahrefs or this one i used use,
    This one is totally free and no limit, this means you can know all the backlinks quickly without costing one coin.