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This is big news from the Google Analytics team. Analytics now reports backlinks in real time, as they are indexed. The previous tool used by SEOs, Google Webmaster Tools, has been notoriously slow at reporting new links, but this will no longer be a problem.
Analytics is now reporting all links to your site as trackbacks, whether or not the blogger who links to you has adopted trackbacks. Here's what Ilya Grigorik of the Google Analytics team has said about it:
The concept of trackbacks...first emerged back in 2002...but the requirement for each site to explicitly implement this protocol has always stood in the way of adoption. If only you could crawl the web and build an accurate link graph. The good news is we already do that at Google, and are now providing this insight to Google Analytics users.
If you’re not familiar with Trackbacks, then think of it as automated Google Alerts for all of your pages: you publish new content, we scour the web for pages that link to it and build automated reports for you right within Google Analytics - simple as that.
Unless you've been living in a cave for the past decade, you probably know that backlinks are the bread and butter of SEO.
Being SEOs, we would expect a giant button on the front page of Analytics saying "Click here to see your backlinks!!!" but, alas, Google has made it a bit more difficult to find the information, especially if you want to see it all in one place. Here's the convoluted process:
Even after getting all the data in one place, it's not organized in a way that's particularly helpful to SEOs. At this point, there is no automated tool I'm aware of that can scrape all this information and put it in a more useful format, so here are two ways to use the data without creating any custom interfaces.
1. As Google Intended – Clearly, Google intends this to be used as a way to monitor mentions of your site online and respond to them. This might not sound exciting to some SEOs, but consider how much easier outreach becomes if somebody is already linking to you. Use this tool to get in touch with influential web personalities that are already linking to you, and start building some relationships. There are many ways to leverage these in the future.
2. Identify Your Link Bait – You should already be recording any links you've built on your own, so this tool is most effective as a way of monitoring the effectiveness of your link bait campaigns. This appears to be the most effective way to do that:
To accurately compare pages with one another, you may want to select a customized date range for each page. For example, it might be better to record the number of backlinks that occurred in the first thirty days after the page went live than to just record the number of backlinks that occurred over the past month.
Those are our recommendations. Can you think of other ways to use the data? We'd love to hear your input.
Image credit: ivanpw