One of the first steps that I undertake in a search engine optimization project is a link inventory, which is a list of sites that link to your site. It’s important to get a sense of the types of links that you have already, so you can figure out what you’d need to add to help your site rank higher on the search engines.
First, start with a spreadsheet, with these columns:
Status | Type | Link | Link Text | Date | Comments
To start, the status will always be “active”, since you’re checking out links that already exist.
Type is the type of site. For example, Directory, Blog, Forum, Organic Link, etc. Use headings that will make sense to you in the future.
Next, let’s find your links!
Yahoo! Explorer is currently the best source for finding links. On their site, enter the full URL for your site (for example: http://www.danaditomaso.ca). On the results page, click the Inlinks box, then choose to show inlinks Except from this domain. Below is a screenshot of what the search options should look like:
Now that you have a list of all the links, you can export them (click the link at top right that says “Export first 1000 results to TSV”). TSV is a “Tab Separated” file, which can be imported by any spreadsheet program.
Here comes the fun part! (Or at least I think it’s fun…) Check out each link and categorize it – what type of site is it, how did it get there, did you have to pay for it? If you have a link from a blog, you may have multiple results for that link – just compile them together into one link for tracking purposes.
It might feel overwhelming at first, especially if you have a lot of links. Start slowly, and spend just a small amount of time on it each day. It can be very fun – I usually find at least one link that I wasn’t expecting!