Tips for Mining Google’s Backlink Data

Since Google SiteMaps expanded to Google Webmaster Central, webmasters have some interesting new tools at their disposal.  One of those is the backlink checker.

It is widespread knowledge that a search for backlinks in Google brings back results that are pretty much useless.  I have yet to hear a single SEO specialist offer even a theory about the algorithm for such a search.  For the past year, Yahoo has been offering a much improved backing search. 

Of course, most webmasters know who links to them when they post to directories or engage in a link partnership with another website. But after a few months on the Web, most actively promoted websites of any discernable quality start attracting inbound links unbeknownst to the webmaster.  Google Webmaster Central now reveals those links, on a page-by-page basis.  Here are some ways that you can mine the data Google gives you:

  • Find out which pages are being linked to…you might have link-bait without knowing it.  For instance, if you have attracted three links to an article that you never even promoted, that’s a good sign that maybe you should promote the article; it is obviously of interest.
  • When you find a page that has attracted unsuspected links, review that page and develop a plan to create similar pages with similar characteristics that would also be of interest to other website owners who might link to your site without prompting.
  • Another thing to do when you find unexpected links to a certain page is to capitalize on the link strength of the page and optimize it for additional search terms (or optimize it for any search terms if this had not already been done). 
  • Find out who is linking to you.  There might be sites that come as a surprise.  If you see some sites that had unexpectedly link to you, search Google for similar sites, because they might also want to link to you..
  • Look who is linking to what pages on your site.  Perhaps there are other pages that would interest them.  If another site links to ten pages on your site, that’s better than linking to just one, right?
  • If you post articles to various article directories, this is a great way to find out who else has picked up your articles without your knowledge, and submit future articles directly to them.  For instance, I have many of my articles listed at David Leonhardt’s Idea Marketers Profile

Yahoo is still your best tool for competitive link intelligence, because Google Webmaster Central gives you information only on sites you have verified as belonging to you.  Together, these are two very powerful webmaster tools.