How To Find Backlinks In Google Search

Influencer, PR and Blogger Reviews

Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors that Google uses to determine a website’s search performance and authority. 

This guide will walk through proven tactics on how to find backlinks pointing to your website using Google search as well as alternative tools.

Why Backlinks Matter

Backlinks show search engines like Google that other sites find your content valuable and relevant. More backlinks generally lead to better search rankings. However, not all backlinks have the same impact. 

High-quality backlinks from authoritative sites are ideal. Irrelevant, manipulative or spammy links can hurt your site’s reputation.

The key is finding all the backlinks pointing to your site and then assessing the value of each. This enables you to build upon quality links while cleaning up any toxic ones.

Here’s how to find backlinks:

Using Google Search Operators

Google search operators let you craft advanced queries to surface specific results. They are extremely useful for backlink discovery. The most helpful operators to find pages linking to your domain are:

  • site:

The site: operator shows results from a specific site. 

For example:

This will only display pages from the New York Times website. To find backlinks on NY Times articles pages:

This search will display all pages on that contain links pointing to your root domain. The site: operator helps identify backlinks from a specific publisher.

  • link:

The link: operator lists web pages that contain a specific link. To find pages linking to your About page:

You can also use the link: operator to find pages linking to a competitor’s content:

This reveals who is linking to that page which can uncover link building opportunities.

  • inurl:

The inurl: searches for a term in the URL of results. To find potential backlinks containing your brand name:


Pages with your brand name in the URL likely link back to your website. The inurl: search helps surface links you may have missed.

  • intitle:

intitle: specifically searches in the title tags of web pages. To find backlinks likely using your brand as anchor text:


If your brand name shows up in the title, it’s typically used as anchor text for an inbound link as well.

Other Helpful Operators:

  • inanchor: – Finds pages with your link in the anchor text of a backlink.
  • cache: – View a cached version of pages linking to you.
  • related: – Displays info about a page like headers, metadata.
  • info: – Finds additional relevant pages to a given website.

Spend time combining these operators and analyzing results to uncover new quality backlinks from authoritative sites. The advanced search techniques help expand your link identification beyond what’s in the Search Console.

Leveraging Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides valuable backlink data and metrics for your website. You can find and assess backlinks using Search Console by navigating to Search Traffic > Links to Your Site to:

  • View total linking domains/URLs currently pointing to your site
  • Breakdown of follow vs nofollow links
  • Filter the backlink data by link type like “Sitewide” or “HTML”, page linked to, geographic region, and more using the available filters.
  • See context and preview the page with your link.
  • Export the filtered backlink data as a .csv file for further sorting and analysis. The export contains details like anchor text, page authority, link location, etc.
  • Compare Search Console link metrics over time to identify new sites linking to you or a drop off in links.

Check Top Linked Pages under Links to Your Site to see which of the pages attract the most external links to focus on promoting.

Search Console doesn’t provide a complete list of backlinks but it’s a free starting point before investing in paid tools. Sort and filter the available data to identify quality backlinks worth building upon.

Pro Tip: Verify your site in Google Analytics as well. The “Acquisition” > “All Traffic” > “Referrals” report also shows linking domains driving traffic to your site.

Leverage the information in Search Console to augment other backlink discovery methods. The tool provides indicators of sites and pages generating quality links to help focus link building efforts.

Using Third Party Backlink Analysis Tools

Specialized backlink analysis tools crawl and index links across the web to provide more comprehensive data than what’s available in the Search Console. Popular options include:

Tool Key Features Free or Paid
Ahrefs Full backlink profile, fresh index, metrics like URL & Domain Rating Paid, 7-day free trial
SEMRush Backlink audit for quality/risk factors, domain authority metrics Paid, limited free version
Ubersuggest Keyword research, competitor analysis, site audits, domain overview Paid, limited free version


Paid tools provide the most comprehensive data but can be pricey. Start with Search Console, then try the free trials of paid platforms to determine if the advanced analytics warrant the investment for your needs.

Analyzing Referral Traffic in Analytics

Assessing referral data in your website analytics is a free way to uncover quality backlinks driving traffic to your site. 

Looking at referral traffic over time can provide useful context upfront. Consistent or growing traffic from the same domains tends to indicate you have built solid relationships that result in ongoing links. A sudden drop could reveal a lost link needing recovery.

To find referral backlinks:

First, go to the Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals report in your analytics platform like Google Analytics. This shows all domains sending traffic to your site.

Then, sort by non-direct referral sources only. Direct traffic is from visitors who come directly. Non-direct is traffic from specific external sites, like links.

Next, scan the list of referring domains and identify authoritative, relevant, or high-traffic sites. For example, a referral from Wikipedia likely signals a good backlink, while a link from a sketchy spam site could be risky.

You can click into each domain to view deeper metrics:

  • The specific page URLs linking to your content
  • Anchor text on those pages used for the links
  • Any keyword patterns in the traffic they referred

Analyze both the quantity of visitors referred, as well as the quality based on the authority of the source.

Use these referral insights to find powerful backlinks to assess and build upon, as well as new link building opportunities. Referral analysis complements other discovery methods.

Assessing Backlink Quality and Value

Once you’ve used tactics like Google operators and third party tools to uncover backlinks pointing to your site, the next step is assessing the quality and value of each link.

Here are key factors to evaluate:

  • Relevance – Links from pages with closely aligned topics are highly relevant and therefore more valuable. Links from off-topic pages are less ideal.
  • Authority – Links from highly authoritative sources are best for SEO.
  • Anchor Text – Optimized anchor text with your target keyword can help rankings for that term. 
  • Link Velocity – If the number of backlinks to your site grows steadily over time, it signals you are building quality relationships and buzz.
  • Link Location – Links higher up in content and on more popular pages have greater value.

Use these criteria to differentiate high-value backlinks from low-quality ones. Focus link building and outreach efforts on replicating and expanding upon quality relationships.

Cleaning Up Toxic Backlinks

Too many toxic backlinks can potentially harm your site’s reputation and search performance. Google may penalize or demote sites that seem to be using manipulative linking tactics.

Some examples of toxic links include:

  • Irrelevant or manipulative links from spammy sites
  • Pages with little context or value for anchoring a link
  • Over-optimized anchor text like “click here”

Identifying Toxic Links

You can identify harmful backlinks pointing to your site by:

  • Analyzing links in Google Search Console – filter by spammy anchor text.
  • Using backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs to identify sketchy patterns.
  • Checking analytics referrals for low-quality domains.
  • Monitoring unnatural traffic spikes that may indicate manipulative links.
  • Doing manual searches for brand names/keywords to find low-value mentions.

Once you’ve identified potentially toxic links, use Google’s Disavow Tool to indicate you want those specific links ignored. Don’t disavow all low-quality links, just the most harmful ones.

Cleaning Up and Preventing Toxic Links

Ideally, try to have damaging links removed or corrected by:

  • Emailing webmasters requesting removal. Follow up periodically.
  • Removing outdated directories, listings, and profiles.
  • Replacing over-optimized anchor text with cleaned up branding.
  • Pushing manipulative links further down in content if possible.
  • Fixing thin or low-value content surrounding toxic links.

As a last resort, consider initiating legal action for libelous or infringing content.

Regularly monitoring backlinks and selectively disavowing toxic ones helps protect your site’s reputation. But take care not to impact positive links in the process.

Reaching Out to Backlink Sites

The outreach process for earning backlinks takes time but can get results if done properly. Here are some tips:

  • Provide Value: Offer relevant guest posts, data, resources or quotes that align with the site’s content goals. Don’t just pitch links to your own content without context.
  • Personalize Pitches: Research sites beforehand and customize emails with details on why their specific audience would benefit from your content. Use names and show familiarity.
  • Suggest Link Insertion Points: Proactively recommend pages, posts or sections where links to your content would fit well and provide the most value for their readers.
  • Follow Up Patiently: Not all outreach converts to links immediately. Follow up periodically if no response, but avoid harassing sites with constant unwanted pitches.
  • Build Relationships: Work on establishing connections with influencers and sites in your industry over time. Links will develop more naturally through genuine relationships.
  • Monitor New Opportunities: Set Google Alerts for your brand keywords and check back on sites that previously linked for new possibilities over time.
  • Diversify Outreach: Don’t just focus on the most authoritative sites. Mid-tier publishers, niche sites and local blogs are often more receptive to pitching.
  • Provide Varied Assets: In addition to content offers, provide other assets like original data, surveys, infographics or interviews that sites may find valuable.
  • Promote Your Best Content: Pitch pages and posts that already perform well and would be of interest to an audience. Put your best foot forward.


Patience and persistence is key. Not every site will agree to links, but by providing ongoing value you can build quality relationships that earn backlinks naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions Section

  • Why are backlinks so important for SEO?

Backlinks indicate to search engines like Google that other reputable sites find your content valuable. More backlinks (especially from authoritative sites) help boost rankings.

  • How many backlink do I need to improve rankings?

There is no definitive number – quality over quantity. Even a few strong backlinks can impact rankings. Focus on building links slowly from reputable sources vs. only chasing high volumes.

  • What is a good backlink anchor text?

Optimized anchor text with your target keyword can help rankings for that term. But vary anchor text – don’t over-optimize. Use brand name, URL, or generic descriptors like “click here” too.

  • Where should I request backlinks from?

Prioritize high authority, relevant sites in your niche. But also consider industry publications, directories, local citation sources and don’t neglect mid-tier sites.

  • How do I effectively pitch sites for links?

Personalize emails, offer value to their audience, suggest specific pages/posts where your link would fit well. Follow up patiently without harassing.

  • Should I disavow all bad backlinks?

No, be selective. Using Google’s disavow tool on all low-quality links can do more harm than good. Only disavow clear manipulative or toxic links.

  • How often should I check for new backlinks?

Check search console, analytics, and backlink tools at least once a month. Set alerts on brand keywords to monitor new links in real time.

  • Can too many backlinks hurt my ranking?

Yes, poor quality and irrelevant links from spammy sites can potentially harm reputation. Focus on building authoritative, relevant backlinks.

  • Should I remove broken backlinks?

Fixing broken backlinks helps user experience but isn’t necessary for SEO. Redirect if possible, but not vital to ask sites to remove dead links.

  • How do I build backlinks to a new website?

Start with foundational signals – optimize on-page elements, build local citations, leverage social. Then outreach patiently to relevant sites about your content.