If you run a brick and mortar business, it’s important that you understand who comes walking through your door. Whether it’s a return customer or a new one, it’s beneficial to both parties if you start up a conversation or ask if there’s any assistance you can give them. Knowing your customers and where they are from is a major driving factor for conversion.
It’s no different if your business owns a website.
Inbound links (also called ‘backlinks’) are incoming links to a website or web page. Monitoring your inbound links is important because it tells you:
- Who is coming to your website
- Where they are coming from
The amount of quality of your inbound links is a major factor in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of inbound links and the quality of those links are key factors in how search engines rank your page on search engine results pages. Search engines place high value in trust and authority, and an inbound link from a very high ranking and trusted website tells the search engine that someone trusted also trusts you.
There are different programs and solutions to help monitor your inbound links.
- SEOMoz – The folks at SEOmoz have long been thought leaders in the industry and offer a product that will track all of your inbound links, grade them and provide social sharing information. They power an link checking search engine you can check out: Open Site Explorer
- Raven Tools – Raven provides a paid service that allows you to easily manage and catalog your inbound links. Once a month or as often as you specify, Raven Tools checks the status of active links in the Link Manager and lets you know what has changed. This is a fantastic tool for organizing your inbound links as you continue to optimize your website.
- Bing Webmaster Tools (Formerly Yahoo Site Explorer) – Part of Bing’s suite of webmaster tools is a feature to see who is linking to you, along with the anchor text (the actual text displayed in the link, not the URL). This tool will also provide you information about how your inbound links are indexed and ranked by Bing/Yahoo.
- Firefox Add-ons – Are you an avid Firefox user who likes to manage as much of your web experience with add-ons as you can? This great plug-in fits in your toolbar and will monitor your inbound links and search engine page rank.
- Google Analytics – As with anything related to your website reporting, log-in to your Google Analytics to see who is coming to your website and what particular path they took to get to your content. (New to Google Analytics? Check out this introduction)
Keeping up with your inbound links will not only provide more opportunity for Sales, but it will continually deliver you with the information about the changing Internet landscape and who is interested in your business.