How to find backlinks to your website

Backlinks are essential for improving a website’s visibility, credibility, and authority. However, finding backlinks has often been associated with expensive tools and paid solutions, which can discourage website owners from exploring this crucial aspect of their online strategy. This article will explore the untapped potential of Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console, which are free and readily available resources. These tools can help you discover backlinks to your website without the need for costly third-party tools. Let’s delve into how to find backlinks using these resources.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are hyperlinks found on external websites that direct users to your website. Backlinks act as an endorsement, with one website recommending another due to its value and relevance. These links are pivotal in search engine optimization (SEO) by influencing your website’s visibility, credibility, and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

To better understand the significance of backlinks, let’s consider an example. Imagine you have a website that offers comprehensive guides on healthy recipes. Suppose a popular health and wellness blog includes a hyperlink to your website within one of its articles. In that case, it signifies that they recognize your website as a reliable source of information on healthy recipes. This backlink generates referral traffic to your website from the health and wellness blog. It establishes your website as a trusted and authoritative source for healthy recipes in the view of search engines. As a result, search engines may boost your website’s visibility and ranking in relevant search queries, leading to increased organic traffic.

Another example could be an industry-leading technology website linking to your software review blog. This backlink indicates that your blog provides valuable insights and analysis in the technology sector. As a result, search engines may consider your blog a reputable source of information, potentially improving your website’s visibility and ranking for technology-related search queries.

In summary, backlinks act as virtual endorsements, validating your website’s content quality. They drive referral traffic and contribute to your website’s visibility in search engine rankings. Acquiring high-quality backlinks from reputable websites can enhance your website’s online presence and attract a wider audience.

Why do backlinks matter?

Backlinks are essential in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) for several reasons, some reasons why backlinks matter include:

  1. Enhanced Search Engine Visibility: Backlinks can help search engines discover and index your website. When search engine crawlers follow backlinks from other websites, they can find and index your content more easily, leading to improved visibility in search results. Websites with higher-quality backlinks rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), leading to increased visibility and organic traffic.
  1. Increased Website Credibility and Authority: When reputable websites link to your website, it communicates that it is trustworthy and valuable. Backlinks act as virtual endorsements, establishing your website’s credibility and authority within your industry or niche. This can positively impact user perception, increasing trust, engagement, and conversions.
  1. Referral Traffic: Backlinks contribute to your website’s SEO and drive direct referral traffic. Clicking on a backlink from another website leads users to your website, which boosts visibility and attracts new visitors. These visitors are more likely to be interested in your content or offerings since they were referred by a website they already trust.
  1. Competitive Advantage: Backlinks can provide a competitive edge in the online landscape. A strong backlink profile increases the chances of websites outranking their competitors in search results. By actively seeking and acquiring high-quality backlinks, you can differentiate your website from competitors and establish yourself as a prominent player in your industry.

In conclusion, backlinks matter because they improve search engine visibility, enhance website credibility and authority, drive referral traffic, and provide a competitive advantage. Building a diverse and high-quality backlink profile can strengthen your website’s online presence and achieve long-term success in the digital landscape.

How to see backlinks using Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) does not provide a direct feature to view backlinks. However, you can still view your backlinks by using the Acquisition Report. Let’s see how to go about it below.

Navigate to your Traffic Acquisition report in your GA4 property, reports->Acquisition-> Traffic Acquisition. Scroll down to the table report and type “Referral” in the search box.

GA4 Acquisition report
GA4 Acquisition report

Change the dimension to “Session: source/medium.” This will display your backlinks in the table as shown in the image below.

Backlinks in GA4
Backlinks in GA4

If ever you want to eliminate undesirable backlinks in GA4, you can do that by following these steps. Access the Admin section, navigate to Data Streams-> configure tag settings->display all the options, select the “List unwanted referrals” option, and then list the undesired referrals. Utilise various match types to include the unwanted domains.

Removing unwanted backlinks in GA4
Removing unwanted backlinks from GA4 reports

Another way to view backlinks in GA4 is by using the exploration report. This option allows viewing the backlinks and the exact referral source page (URL in GA4 Explorations) containing backlinks to your website.

Creating a GA4 Exploration to see backlinks
Creating a GA4 Exploration to see backlinks

To do this, simply create a blank exploration report. Select the dimensions and metrics you desire by clicking the plus (+) icon beside them. For our example, we used the following dimensions: “Landing page + query string,” “Page referrer”, “Session default channel group,” “Event Name,” and Event Count as the metrics.

To build the data on the canvas, drop the dimensions “Landing page + query string” and “Page referrer” as the rows value and Event count metrics for Values. 

GA4 Exploration report shows backlinks
GA4 Exploration report shows backlinks

Afterwards, apply the following filters

  •  Event name “exactly matches” session_start
  •  Session default channel group “exactly matches” Referral
  • Page referrer “does not contain” your domain
  • Page referrer “does not match regex” “^\s*$” (to remove empty rows)
GA4 page referrer report
GA4 page referrer report

Here’s a detailed article that explains how to find a “referral path”.

How to find backlinks using Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that allows website owners to access valuable data about their website’s performance in search results, including backlink information. It offers valuable insights into how Google sees and indexes your website, including information about search traffic, indexing status, and any issues affecting your site’s visibility.

With Google Search Console, you can submit sitemaps, request URL removals, check for mobile usability problems, monitor backlinks, and perform various other tasks to optimise your website’s performance.

To view your backlinks, simply login to your search console account, select your property, and navigate to the external links, Links -> External Links->Top Linked Sites.

Google search console - top linking sites
Google search console – top linking sites

You can now explore the top-linked sites and use the top-linked pages feature to view the top pages.

Takeaway

In this article, we have explored how to find backlinks to your website using Google Analytics 4 or Google Search Console without needing paid solutions like Ahrefs or SEMrush. By leveraging these free tools provided by Google, you can gain valuable insights into your website’s backlink profile and enhance its visibility in search engine results.

Google Analytics 4 offers a comprehensive overview of your website’s performance, including the ability to track referral traffic and identify websites that link to your site. By analysing the referral traffic data, you can uncover valuable backlink sources and understand which websites are driving traffic to your site.

Additionally, Google Search Console provides a dedicated “Links” section to explore top linking sites and pages. By clicking on each site or page, you can delve deeper into the specific websites that link to your site or page, providing valuable information about your backlink profile.

By utilising these tools, you can gain insights into your website’s backlink profile, identify potential opportunities for improvement, and optimise your site’s visibility in search engine rankings. 

In conclusion, by utilising Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console, you can effectively find backlinks to your website without incurring additional costs. Take advantage of these free tools to gain insights into your backlink profile and optimise your website’s visibility in search engine results.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to check my website backlinks?

To check your website backlinks, you can use free tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics 4 or paid tools like Ahrefs or Semrush to analyse and track the websites that link to your site.

How to check backlinks in Google Analytics 4?

You can analyse referral traffic data to gain insights into the websites linking to your site. Simply navigate to reports->Acquisition-> Traffic Acquisition. Scroll down to the table report, type “Referral” on the search box, and select the “source/medium” dimension to display your backlinks.

How to check backlinks on Google Search Console?

To check backlinks on Google Search Console, follow these steps:
1. Sign in to your Google Search Console account.
2. Select the website you want to analyse from the property dropdown.
3. In the left-hand menu, click on “Links” and then external links.
4. Explore the “Top linking sites” and “Top linking pages” options to see the websites and pages with the most backlinks.

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