When it comes to efficient backlink checking, there are three most commonly used tools which are most commonly used: Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), Open Site Explorer and Yahoo! Site Explorer (which is now being replaced with Bing Webmaster Tools). Those webmasters who have been checking backlinks for a longer period of time may be surprised to find Google Webmaster Tools on our listing, since the reports from this tool were really sparse in the past and most users were staying away from it, preferring the Yahoo! Site Explorer as a more efficient alternative. However, Google Webmaster Tools deserve to be included in our list because today this is certainly one of the most efficient options for backlink checking.
Yahoo! Site Explorer – possibly the most valuable backlink checking tool
Although Yahoo! Site Explorer was officially shut down in 2011, this tool left the memories of being the best option for in-depth backlink checking. This was the favorite tool of many webmasters; and it enjoyed that superior status because it enabled them to have an insight to the backlinks to any website. The simple procedure of checking on the backlinks that lead only to the owner’s site is not even close to the value of having the possibility to check on many other websites which are well-ranked for the specific keyword of your interest.
After the Yahoo! Site Explorer service was shut down, it gradually faded into Bing Webmaster Tools, which is a very similar tool to the previously mentioned Google Webmaster tools. The Bing service now provides full reports only to the sites that are owned by the webmaster; and the reports for other websites have been limited to a humble number of 1000 links.
Open Site Explorer – great features and a great drawback
Open Site Explorer is an effective backlink checking tool from SEOmoz. The feature that makes this tool outstandingly beneficial is the ability to provide quantitative information about links. The full reports of Open Site Explorer include the Domain Authority and Page Authority of the linking pages and all this information is being displayed in a clean and convenient manner. Having these quantitative measures of the linking page’s value is very important for the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the report. This tool, similarly to Bing Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer, can also be used for the backlink analysis of any site, but its free version is limited to the top five links that have the top Page Authority. The users can get more details with the paid version.
This backlink checking tool has one important drawback – there is no sufficient weight to page segmentation provided by the rank-order weighting of the affected sites. This is a very serious disadvantage, as it may cause for a link to appear on a falsely high position on the list, even if it is located in a devalued page segment that is not flowing high page ranks. The users of Open Site Explorer may be misled to perceive that significant PageRank is being provided by a link that is produced by a blog comment. The problem is that there are plenty of other comments on the same blog post and typically none of them have the advantage of enabling a lot of PageRank.
Google Webmaster Tools – the best tool for backlink checking to your own sites
In order to get more information about the links that are enabling the biggest value via flowing PageRank, you won’t be satisfied with a hasty usage of Google Webmaster Tools and you’ll have to do a little more digging. This backlink checking tool’s current version provides the users with an option of “Download this table” and “Links to your site”. That action will return a report that ranks the sites according to the overall number of links to them. The conclusion taken from this type of report can be misleading because it doesn’t clarify which of the external sites are actually flowing the largest amounts of PageRank to the certain website. The links’ value ranking is being determined by the factor of page segmentation; and it is quite probable that this system devalues navigational section and footer links.
However, that doesn’t mean that Google Webmaster Tools cannot be used for obtaining highly effective reports for backlink checking. In fact, this tool is a great resource for all site owners because it informs them about the way Google bot is interacting with a certain website. There is a trick that will help you get a very effecitve backlink report via this service: simply scroll your way to the bottom of the page, look for the option “Download all links” and click on it. The report generated from this option will provide you with a completely re-ordered list of backlinks to your site. Google is apparently positioning the results listed in this report according to the actual PageRank which is flowing from the site. This feature will provide you with an effective insight into the way the Google algorithm evaluates the links.
Conclusion: Which backlink checking tool is best to be used?
The backlink rankings founded on the value of the PageRank flowing from external links seem to be made publicly available through the Google Webmaster Tools. Although this report is nearly hidden from the users of the tool, it still provides an effective insight into the most important factors that are responsible for the Google rankings of the user’s site.