Backlinks are one of the biggest ranking signals of search engine optimization (SEO), which has been baked into Google’s ranking ecosystem. They help determine your website’s topic, authority, and visibility on Google.
By the end of this article, you will receive an easy step-by-step guide on how to check your backlinks in Google Search Console, also known as GSC.
What is Google Search Console?
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools until 2015, Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that helps webmasters monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their website’s presence in Google search results.
It provides valuable information about your website’s performance, indexation status, search queries, and much more.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to another. In simpler terms, they are links on external websites that direct users to your website.
Larry Page, co-founder of Google, invented the page rank ranking system, which uses backlinks to indicate a website’s credibility, popularity, and authority.
The anchor of a link is just as influential as the link itself as it describes what the page is about, which is why using anchors like “click here” is not beneficial when building links, as it doesn’t give any in-depth detail where the link is pointing to or what the page is about.
The logic of backlinks is simple: if many authoritative websites link to your site/content, it is deemed to be valuable and trustworthy. Therefore, backlinks can significantly influence your website’s organic search rankings.
Google’s algorithms are designed to distinguish between natural, organic backlinks and manipulative or spammy ones.
Therefore, it’s essential to focus on acquiring high-quality, relevant backlinks from reputable sources.
Why check your backlinks in Google Search Console?
Google Search Console provides valuable insights into your website’s backlink profile, allowing you to monitor and analyze your backlinks effectively.
Here are a few reasons why you should check your backlinks in Google Search Console instead of only using tools like Ahrefs or Semrush:
1. Monitor your backlink profile
Regularly monitoring your backlink profile is essential to ensure the quality and relevance of your backlinks.
Google Search Console provides an accurate overview of the websites that link to your site, allowing you to identify any potentially harmful or spammy backlinks.
The main reason why I prefer to look at the links in Google Search Console is because they are links Google identifies and count towards your backlink profile. Unlike tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, they pull in every link around the web, even links that Google might not even include in your backlink profile.
If you regularly check your backlink profile, you can take necessary action to try to remove or disavow any low-quality backlinks that may harm your website’s SEO.
2. Identify linking websites and pages
Google Search Console provides detailed information about the websites and specific pages that link to your website.
This information can be incredibly valuable for outreach and link building efforts.
3. Review anchor text and context
Examining the anchor text and the context surrounding your backlinks can provide insights into how other websites perceive and describe your content.
You can easily see the anchor text used in your backlinks, optimize your content, and target specific keywords and phrases relevant to your industry or niche.
Also, analyzing the context of your backlinks allows you to identify any discrepancies or contextual issues that may affect the link’s SEO value.
Pro tip: your most used anchor should naturally be brand name variations or naked URL variations.
4. Monitor and improve your SEO performance
If you regularly monitor your backlink profile in Google Search Console, you can gain valuable insights into how your backlinks impact your website’s organic search rankings.
You can easily keep an eye on trends and patterns in your backlink profile, you can make informed decisions to improve your backlink acquisition strategies and optimize your website’s SEO performance.
Setup and verify your website on Google Search Console
To begin checking your website’s backlinks, you’ll first need to access Google Search Console. Follow these 4 steps to get your GSC account setup:
1. Visit Google Search Console.
2. Sign in using your Google account. If you don’t have one, you must create one to proceed.
3. Once logged in, you’ll need to verify your website’s ownership.
4. Google provides several verification methods, such as adding an HTML tag to your website’s header, uploading an HTML file to your website’s root directory, or using your Google Analytics account.
How to check your backlinks in Google Search Console
Once you have your Google account setup and verified yourself as the owner of the website, we can get looking at your backlinks.
1. Visit https://search.google.com/search-console and sign in to your Google account.
2. Once logged in, you’ll see a list of websites that you have verified in Google Search Console. Select the website for which you want to check backlinks.
3. In the left-hand menu, click on “Links” under the “Search Traffic” section. This will take you to the “External Links” report.
4. The “External Links” report provides an overview of the websites that link to your site. You can see the total number of linking websites, the total number of links, and the most linked pages on your website.
5. To examine your backlinks more thoroughly, click on the “More” button under “Top linked pages.” This will display a list of your website’s pages with the most backlinks.
6. To view the websites that link to a specific page on your website, click on the page URL in the “Top linked pages” list. This will display a list of linking domains for that particular page.
7. Click on the domain in the list to explore the backlinks from a specific linking domain. This will provide additional information, such as the number of backlinks from that domain, the anchor text used, and the context surrounding the backlink.
Frequently asked questions
Can I remove or disavow low-quality backlinks from Google Search Console?
You cannot remove or disavow backlinks from Google Search Console. However, Google Search Console provides valuable information about your backlinks, which can guide your decisions when removing or disavowing backlinks through other means.