Google’s Matt Cutts announced just yesterday that webmasters can now download their newest inbound links by date in their free analysis tool, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). If you’re running a website and not using GWT, I’ll offer these strong words: you’re probably doing it wrong. In addition to providing a list of who’s linking to you, it also tells you when things are broken around your site, so strongly consider implementing it soon.

When you log into GWT, you get Google’s typically minimalist interface. Find your way to the Traffic section, then Links to Your Site, then hit the Download Latest Data button:

Webmaster Tools - Links to Your Site - http://www.christopherspenn.com/

Congratulations! You’ve got link data. You can now open the resulting spreadsheet either in Google Docs format or a CSV if you want to examine your links offline. What do you get when you look inside? A really useful list of places that you’re getting links from, by date:

Microsoft Excel

You can then go back to each of those links and have a look around, maybe leave a comment, or at least check out the people linking to you. Useful, right?

But wait, there’s more! /billymays

If you’ve read my post on moving averages, then you know what’s coming next. Take those dates, subtotal their counts, and make 7, 14, and 30 day moving averages. Remember what a link is in Google’s parlance: it’s a vote for your site. It’s a vote for your content being worth sharing. Now you can start to track the trends in this kind of voting:

Microsoft Excel

My “voting” record for this quarter is on the rise – the blue line (7 day) is consistently above the red, which is consistently above the green. Things are moving in the right direction, and my content is doing well in terms of the number of people linking to it. Conversely, if the lines were in reverse order headed downwards, my site would be in trouble and it’d be a good indicator that my content was unappealing, not worth linking to.

Try this set of techniques out and see what it says about who’s linking to your site!


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