The best way to discover how people are finding your web site is to analyze your site’s activity logs. If you are unable to analyze their logs can instead use search engines to track down referral links. In particular, this method gives you an idea of how “popular” a search engine believes your site to be. Be aware that “popularity” is only one part of the link analysis systems that search engines such as Google use to rank web pages. The quality and context of links is also taken into account, rather than sheer numbers.
You can use link:’site URL’ feature of many search engines to list all the pages that link to the selected site, and that too in order of Page Rank. For Google, North Light and AltaVista, use link:xxyyzz.com to find the listing of pages that link to the web site xxyyzz For Alltheweb use link.all instead of link and for Inktomi use ‘linkdomain’ instead of ‘link’ in the above example. The results would be a list of all pages (if indexed by the search engine) that link to your target site, listed in the order of popularity.
If you need to find the link to specific pages instead of to an entire site, then the above link: feature will not work. Use the Advanced search features offered by HotBot and MSN Search, enter the full URL of the target page including http:// and use the option “links to URL” or similar.
Some sites offer to run comparison of the links to a chosen site vis-a-vis three other chosen sites, http://linkpop.marketleap.com
are two such sites where you could submit your target URL and three other URLs that you wish to have a comparison done, LinkPopularity.com: The Free Link Popularity Service is a site that will analyze the link popularity of a chosen URL in three prominent search engines.
Link analysis is somewhat different than measuring link popularity. While link popularity is generally used to measure the number of pages that link to a particular site, link • analysis will go beyond this and analyze the popularity of the pages that link to your pages. In a way link analysis is a chain analysis system that accords weighting to every page that links to the target site, with weights determined by the popularity of those pages. Search engines use link analysis in their page-ranking algorithm. Search engines also try to determine the context of those links, in other words, how closely those links relate to the search string. For example if the search string was “toys”, and if there were links from other sites that either had the word toys within the link or in close proximity of the link, the ranking algorithm determines that this a higher priority link and ranks the page, that this is linked to, higher.
As a site owner, you want to seek links from good pages that are related to the terms you want to be found for. Linking strategy is not a trick as many get rich quick merchantswould have you believe. Links for the sake of links have no value whatsoever. Indeed, they can damage your rankings. So forget about link farms and other such nonsense. A small number of inbound links from great, relevant sites will be much more valuable than many links from low-traffic, irrelevant sites.
However, you should not become obsessed by link popularity alone. Treat linking as one important aspect of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Decide how much time and effort you are prepared to invest in relation to your other activities and be disciplined about your approach. Monitor your results and adapt your strategy as necessary.