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I thought I could see this through Google Webmaster Tools, and according to a help file, in Google Webmaster Tools, there should be an 'internal links' and an 'external links' menu item. But in my Webmaster Tools, there's an 'internal links' item, but no 'external links' menu item.

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In addition to Google Webmaster Tools, check out Yahoo! Site Explorer ... you don't have to verify as the site owner, so you can just explore any URL and see what sites link to it. (FYI Yahoo! uses Bing search index now.) –  joelhardi May 14 '11 at 23:50
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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 15 '11 at 1:24

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

5 Answers

Perhaps Google renamed "External links" to "Links to your site". Here is the current documentation: Links to your site. Some interesting excerpts:

You can perform a Google search using the link: operator to find a sampling of links to any site...

To see a much larger sampling of links to any verified site in Webmaster Tools:

  1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
  2. Under Your site on the web, click Links to your site.

enter image description here

To get additional statistics you can link your Google Webmaster Tools account to your Analytics account to get that "Data from Google Analytics" link at the bottom.

While not as thoroughGoogle Analytics itself gives detailed referral link statistics (only links that have actually been clicked are included).

Update: Looking at my own data, Google Analytics lists more referring sites/links (like Facebook.com and Stackoverflow.com) than Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools is probably based solely on Google's index, while Analytics can capture dynamic links and links that are buried behind login's.

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This Community Wiki answer has been added to address multiple ways in which one can locate links to one's site.

Referrer Logs

Check your web server's logs for referring page URL's. (Most analytics packages will include a report which contains this information)

Google Webmaster Tools

  1. Log in
  2. Select Your site on the web from the left navigation menu
  3. Select the Links to your site report to view external links to your site

Open Site Explorer

  1. Navigate to opensiteexplorer.org
  2. Enter the URL and click Search
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You can do this on google:

link:yoursite.com

But I don't think this question belongs in stackoverflow, so it will probably be moved.

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Since we're apparently trying to turn this (originally GWT-specific) question into a catch-all for finding any and all backlinks to a site, here's how to find links to your site from Wikipedia:


Wikipedia

If you want to find out which pages on Wikipedia link to your site (or any site), you can use the Wikipedia external link search.

  • To search for links to a particular host, like www.example.com, just type the hostname into the search box, like this. The results will consist of a list of links to the host and the pages they appear on. Note that some of these pages may be talk, user or project pages instead of actual Wikipedia articles.

  • To search for links to all hostnames in a domain, prepend *. to the search string. For example, this search finds links to example.com and all its subdomains.

  • Alternatively, to restrict the search to pages under a particular URL path prefix, just include that path in the search. For example, searching for www.example.com/foo returns links to example.com/foo.html, example.com/foo/bar, example.com/foo.php?id=42 etc.

    It seems that you can't combine this restriction with the *. wildcard described above. If you try, the path portion of the search string is ignored.

  • By default, the search only returns links to http: URLs. To find links to URLs with other schemes, like https: or ftp:, include the scheme you want, followed by //, in your search. You can combine this with either wildcard or path searches.

    For example, searching for ftp://*.example.com returns all ftp: links to example.com and any of its subdomains.

For more details, see the documentation on Meta-Wiki.

Note that the link search only finds links from pages on a particular wiki, like the English Wikipedia in the examples above. To find links from Wikipedias in other languages, or from other Wikimedia wikis like Wikimedia Commons, you need to repeat the search on each individual wiki, or use a third-party search front-end like this one.

The link search feature is actually a standard part of the MediaWiki software, and will work also on other sites running MediaWiki, such as Wikia wikis. (Finding the link search page through Wikia's user interface may be tricky, but just going to any page on a wiki and replacing the page name with Special:LinkSearch in the URL should work.) The link search is also available through the MediaWiki API.

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Ps. @paulmorriss: Is there any way (short of re-posting) to have this answer reassigned to me, or should I just let it stay attributed to you? –  Ilmari Karonen Sep 18 '12 at 14:12
    
I'm afraid not. The question is now "community wiki" so I won't be getting lots of reputation for all the work you've put in. –  paulmorriss Sep 18 '12 at 14:20
    
Um, it isn't (and I don't really feel it should be, given than turning what used to be a normal question into CW is not something that should be done lightly). The only thing that's CW here so far is danlefree's answer. –  Ilmari Karonen Sep 18 '12 at 21:03
    
If you want to re-post the answer yourself then I'll delete mine. I have no problem with that. –  paulmorriss Sep 19 '12 at 7:57
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If you want to get a true picture of what sites are linking to yours, you may want to consider some kind of server side web stats software that looks at the actual log files of your web server (SmarterStats, WebTrends, and AWStats are a few examples). You need to make sure your log files are capturing the referrer.

Google Analytics is an outstanding package and can give you a really good picture of traffic on your site, but in some cases does require some additional configuration of the code on your site. File downloads (.pdf, .doc, .xls, etc.) that do not have the Google Analytics tracking code on them will not have data captured (see here for more information on how to configure this). In addition, if a user clicks away from your site before the Google Analytics script has loaded, you may miss capturing information from that traffic as well.

By using server side web stats tracking, the web server logs themselves don't lie and will tell you exactly what was requested and who requested it.

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