WWW FAQs: What sites link to my site?


2004-05-20: there are two ways to find this information: via Google, and via the web server statistics reports that your web hosting company may be providing for you.

Method one: Google

One way to discover this information is via a Google search. If you visit www.google.com and enter the following:
link:http://www.boutell.com/
All of the results returned will be pages that link to that page. One inconvenient aspect of this search is that pages on your own site are included in the results; you'll need to page through those patiently in search of external pages that are linking to your site.

Method two: web server statistics

Visit the "control panel" or "my account" pages of your web hosting company. If you are paying for your web hosting, you probably have access to some sort of statistical reports, from a program like AWStats, Analog, Webalizer, WebTrends, Sawmill or Wusage (which I wrote). All of these programs can tell you what pages and sites are linking to your site; just visit the "referring URLs" or "referring sites" report. If you can't find your statistics reports, ask your web hosting company where they are. For even better results, install one of the above programs on your own computer, and download your web server's log files. Your web hosting company usually provides these in a folder called logs or as a file called access_log, which you can download by FTP in the same way that you normally move web pages back and forth from your site to your own computer. If your hosting company doesn't provide log files at all, and you are paying them good money, you should find a better hosting company today.

If the referring URLs report is blank, and you are positive that other sites link to you and people have actually followed those links, then it is likely that your web hosting company is not including referring URLs in your web server's log file. You should definitely complain to them about this. Complete web server log data is key marketing information about your website which ought to be included in any good web hosting package. So make them fix it! But in the meantime, you can discover incoming links using the Google method, above.

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