How can I know who links to my Snap! Website?

Alexis Wilke's picture

Google Webmaster Tools -- Website ListI already mentioned a few things in regard to ways of finding who links to your website1. In order to rank your Snap! Website pages (or really anyone's pages if that matter,) Google Search has a complete list of all the links that can be found on the Internet2. Of course, Google knows where the links point to and if they point to your website, then you have the right to know where those links come from (i.e. on which pages they reside on the World Wide Web.)

You may already know that when people click on a link, the website where the link comes from is called the referrer and that this referrer is given to the destination website. This is a good way to find pages with links pointing toward your website, however, many people turn off that feature in their browser3. In other words, in many cases you do not get that information and it looks like the person coming to your website directly entered the URL in their location bar.

Now, there is a way to get the complete list from Google Search!

Webmaster Tools: Sign up

To learn more about your Snap! Website, you want to use the free Google Webmaster Tools. These tools list all your websites and then lets you browse Google's information about said websites. You will need a Google Account (often inappropriately called a gmail account.)

Once you have an account, you will be able to enter your websites in the list of sites to check with the webmaster tools. The figure at the top-right shows you our Made to Order Software Corp. list of websites (although not complete.) Those links in your list look like they would send you to the actual website, it won't. Instead, clicking on them will send you to that website Dashboard screen. But first, let's talk about the addition of a new website.

Webmaster Tools: Adding a new website

Notice the Add a site button at the top of the list? Click on it and enter the exact domain name of your website. For instance: www.ordermade.ws and hit your Enter key. This adds the named domain (i.e. website) to your list and goes to a new screen for verification. Until you verify your website (i.e. you verify that you are indeed the owner of the website) Google Webmaster Tools will not give you any information...

The verification window should look something like the figure below. As shown click on the Add a meta tag to your site's home page. Once clicked, the meta tag appears in the blue box below.

Google Webmaster Tools—Ownership Verification

For www.ordermade.ws the Meta tag is

     <meta name="google-site-verification"
           content="mMPzHatw_7nLOxtn6yIlc-UyGmb0u0u7R0FwuC08EyA" />

In case you are wondering, the code is not top secret since it will be publicly visible on your home page.

DO NOT Click on the Verify button yet, you must first copy the meta tag to your website as shown below.

Snap! Websites: Google Verification Code

Snap! Site VerificationsYour Snap! Website includes a feature called: Site verifications. (See under Administer » Site building » Site verifications.)

The figure on the left shows you how to access it from your Administrator menu. This opens a form with a list of existing verifications. The list will be empty at first. Click the Add verification link to enter the Google META tag in your website.

You will see a first screen where you have to choose the verification type. Select Google and click on the Next button at the bottom. A new page as shown below appears.

In the Verification META tag field, enter your Google META tag as shown on the Verify Ownership screen from Google Webmaster Tools (see 2nd figure.) I strongly suggest that you do a Copy & Paste instead of trying to enter the code manually! That's it on this screen, now click Save at the bottom left.

Snap! Site Verification

Google Webmaster Tools: Verify your Snap! Website

Google Webmaster Tools—DashboardOnce you saved the META tag on your website, you can click on the Verify button of Google Webmaster Tools. The system then sends you to the Dashboard of that website. When you have multiple domain names, you can switch between domains using the drop-down button at the top-left.

If you just added a website, the data may not be available immediately. It may take a few hours or even a whole day.

Snap! Websites come with an XML sitemap. This can be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools, especially if it doesn't know about it yet. The name of the file is the standard name: sitemap.xml.

In your site dashboard you will see 3 things that you can consider as important:

1. Search Queries

This is a list of keywords that involved your page. Click on the more » link at the bottom to get more information. The main screen shows you how many times you were found for such and such keyword. In our case, we were found 2,400 times for the PayJunction keyword, but did not get very many clicks at all. The next page explains why, we currently are at position 17 for that keyword. Note that this keyword was « automatically chosen » by the people using Google Search. If these are not your keywords, you probably want to ignore them, although if you can get a better position for such keywords, all the better (if they do indeed apply to your website in some way.)

2. Links to your site

This is the one I was talking about!

This area shows how many links where found for such and such page. For Made to Order Software Corp., we've got over 14,000 links. That's not too bad. For Snap! Websites we have a little over 100,000 after about 1 month which is a good number.

Note that all this data is not current to the minute. I am not 100% sure how often they refresh the data, but it takes a little while. Don't be surprised if you posted links on many other websites and don't see those yet. This is how you can understand that quite temporary links (such as links found in an ad or in a Twitter feed) will quickly die off since if the links don't stay up long enough, you will never see them in your Google Webmaster Tools list. This means it is not included in your ranking either.

Here, when you click on the More » link at the bottom you get to a page showing you URLs to your pages and the number of links pointing to that page. The page with the largest number of links is shown at the top. It should be your website home page, although if you have another page you consider more important, it could be that one too.

When on that page, notice the tabs at the top: Links to your site is the default, the other is: Anchor text. This is valuable information to know what the link says. For instance, if I put a link on the words Snap! Websites, the anchor text is Snap! Websites (it seems quite obvious to me, but I really want to make sure you know what this means!) This is valuable since it represents your keywords. Whenever possible, you want those anchor text to be a copy of your website title or a representation of your content. In our case, we like to have the following words in our link anchor text: Snap!, Website, Hosting, Blog or Blogger, Small Business, SEO, Incredible Websites for Incredible People, and a few others4.

Important SEO Update

Google just released a new version of their search engine called Penguin. They now take in account the quality of the websites linking to your website. If a large percent of your backlinks come from such websites, then your ranking will be affected! See my post about the Google Penguin Release.

3. Keywords

Of significance, you have a list of keywords on the right side. This is the list of what Google sees as your keywords. For my Snap! Website and Blog, the two main keywords are: Snap and Blog. Not a big surprise. On Made to Order Software, we see that the 3 main keywords are Product, Software and SLiteChat. Here too, not a big surprised!

For the keywords, you'll have to make sure you repeat those that you want to appear at the top until they get there. That's definitively very important for your SEO position for that keyword. Remember that the best way is to write content on your website and leave it there forever. This is easy to do with a Snap! Blog or a Snap! Newsletter. (Although watch out, you do not want to send a newsletter on a daily basis! Trust me on that one!)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Google is really good at compressing keywords together. Thus, when it says it found many instances of Blog, it means all the words that mean blog such as Blogger, Blogging, Blogged... This happens with all the words and thus in your main list you may not notice the word you are looking for. Probably because it's hidden under another more generic word such as Blog.

Other Tools

The Google Webmaster Tools include many other useful features. Now that you have an account and some data, feel free to browse around for other things that may interest you in your quest.

If you check the list of errors, you will often have two or three which is normal. If you have a large quantity, let us know, there may be a setup problem on your website! (We do verify those things quite often, but something could always slip between our fingers.)

Let me know if you have any question about Google Webmaster Tools. Feel free to post a comment below with your questions.

  • 1. Note that you can find some of your competitors back-links using Google Search and the link:<website> special search capability.
  • 2. It will be very close to all of the links... Obviously, each time someone posts new links, it will not be known immediately. However, if you have an XML Sitemap, Google Analytics and Ping features—and You do with your Snap! Website—then Google is likely to be informed within about 5 minutes and retrieve your new post between 5 and 10 minutes. This being said, it may not index it for a while.
  • 3. This is in regard to privacy issues... By hiding the referrer in your HTTP requests, I cannot know which website you came from and thus I cannot investigate or track your trail on the Internet.
  • 4. Note that Google Search removes all sorts of characters from those words, especially punctuation and any other character that is not a letter or digit. It also ignores small words such as "a" and "of". This may change, but at this time this means periods, colons, commas are ignored (Yes! Periods too!) The presented anchor text may also include a few more words from before/after the anchor.