Inbound links control PageRank, which in turn has a deep impact on Google rankings. Other search engines work similarly, rating the quality and number of links a given website receives as if they were votes for that site. So, how does one get a good take on inbound links for a site? There are many advanced linking softwares out there, like Advanced Link Manager, that can perform complex and deep analyses. But many webmasters or site owners may not need that much power, or would prefer to invest software dollars elsewhere. In most cases, simple link queries can offer a good overview of a site's inbound linking status.
What exactly is a link query? It is essentially a command line, followed by a web address, typed into a search engine. Most commonly, it looks like this:
This line works for both Google and Yahoo. Each will return results listing websites that link to that address, but they will also list total numbers of inbound links as each engine counts them (note that currently Yahoo is a bit quirky in that it returns different numbers depending upon whether or not you?re logged into Yahoo). These numbers are rarely going to match between search engines as they use different methods to crawl and define inbound links, but taken together they draw a good picture of the linking popularity of a given site.
At the beginning of the year, MSN Live Search stopped offering the link query command. Though there was a rather cryptic work-around, it s no longer needed as MSN recently re-introduced the option with a slight variation: a plus sign (+) must be added to the beginning of the command:
Check it out for yourself here. Now anyone can get free reports on inbound links from the big three search engines. Use the information to gauge and build a link building strategy. Check out Stephan Spencer's earlier post on link building for more information.