Backlinks pay a very important role in gaining high rankings for any website.

This post shows how you can analyse current links from your competitors to gain you an advantage.

Google:

Google in recent years has limited the amount of backlinks they show, simply to reduce or make it harder for you to keep an eye on what your competitors are upto.

In order to view some of the links, simply use the link: (link command) in Google, for example:

link:www.myurl.com

The only true way to view the majority of backlinks within Google is to use the Google Webmaster Tools: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
This is a great tool, which not only shows backlinks, but also gives you an insight into potential SEO issues on the site, from 404 error pages to a faulty robots.txt file.

However, we are talking about links, so going back on topic the links can be found within the category ‘Your Site on the Web’, then click on ‘Links to your Site’. The list of internal URLs will be listed, along with the link count next to each URL, clicking on the number will give you a breakdown of each external link.

Unfortunately, you can only use Google Webmaster Tools on your own websites, so you cannot analyse your competitor backlinks. Although this is still a great tool, as it clearly shows which deep URLs within your site require more linking weight, it will almost certainly display URL which you were not aware were linking to you.

Yahoo Site Explorer:

In my opinion, this is one of the better tools for showing the majority of links: http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/
Just insert your, or your competitors URL in the top search box and view the ‘Inlinks’ button, this figure displays all links, both internal and external. To show only the backlinks into a site, just click on the ‘Inlinks’ button and select ‘except from this domain’ from Show Inlinks drop down box. YOu now have a list of all external link coming into the website. This can be used to view competitor backlinks too!

Link Diagnosis:

http://www.linkdiagnosis.com/ is a great little tool. It gets its data from Yahoo Site Explorer, but reports back:
If the site was unavailable to check for link, any missing links, good links and if the link uses a ‘nofollow’ tag, which basically means for SEO purposes the link isn’t much use.

Link diagnosis will only report back one link per domain, unlike Yahoo which will show all links (sitewide) there are both advantages and disadvantages to accessing this data, depending the task to are trying to perform.

There are other tools which I’ll add to shortly, however if you know of any better ones please advise within the comments.

Articles are a great way to improve site rankings and increase awareness.  Rankings will increase due to additional content being created for the site, but if you also choose to distribute articles they have the additional benefit of increasing backlinks, which is a major factor for high rankings.

Articles can be used to monitize a blog, if you are the blog owner you may wish to follow these guidelines:

1) Create unique articles with targeted phrases
2) Ensure the articles make sense to the user, do not over optimise for the spiders as it will become unreadable.
3) Write naturally, with good grammar and spell check.
4) Try to create articles with more than 500 words
5) Choose a catchy, unique title. This is very important to attract the user, and is also used as the anchor text within ‘some’ distribution sites, so include you main keywords too.
6) Choose a topic carefully, some topics will generate more interest than others.
7) Insert social bookmarking buttons to enable readers to digg, stumble etc.
8) Link to the articles from other deep pages within the blog.
9) Add the article pages to your XML sitemaps for faster indexing.

When submitting the article to other blogs, or distribution sites consider the following:

1) If allowed, insert one or two in-line links back to your website.
2) Insert links back to your site within the signature section.   
     Also insert the URL as a link, for example: http://www.monetize-online.com as some scraping sites will leave this in.
3) Make sure the landing page is ‘spot on’ a good landing page will mean better conversion rates.
4) Use RSS feeds to promote the articles.
5) Build a reputation by submitting as many articles as possible.
6) Digg, Stumble etc you articles on other sites.

There are also lots of copywriters being paid by blogger to generate articles for their site, if you are a great writer, full of inspiration you could generate a good income from this alone.

From the article you can insert affiliate links to encourage product purchases, also generate AdSense income based around the articles.

I find the following two sites good for article distribution:

http://www.articletrader.com/
http://ezinearticles.com/

Can you recommend other article websites?
Please feel free to add any more ideas within the comments below.

Online businesses can be very tricky and difficult to make a living. A lot of time and sometimes luck is required to suceed. Most people can find the time, but the luck hardly ever appears!  Well I’ve learnt not to bank on any luck, but instead create avenues where opportunities, not luck arise.

So how do I do this? Well, you’ve heard the saying ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’?
If you apply this online, overtime you will see the benefits and you won’t require any luck

The web is a resource for sharing information and learning, if you keep this in mind most money making opportunities will evolve on there own.

I’m a great believer of helping and providing advice online, here are some real life examples that have gained me additional income when I least expected it.:

1) I set up a blog for free for a friend of a friend, I didn’t realise but he knew a number of businesses and he now recommends me all the time. So from one free blog which took a few hours of my time, has resolved in lots of contacts and business.

2) Reviews – Writing reviews about products I’m interested in has led to paid reviews and free products. Initially I had only set out writing reviews for general content, but soon became a regular income.

3) Even simple linking to other sites with no requests to link back has led to finance. Marketing agencies crawl backlinks of their competitors to seek out link opportunities for their clients. By linking to a few high profile sites within your industry allows your site to be picked up via the agencies link analysis tools. They then contact you where you can negotiate fees for advertising their clients on your website – easy income ;-)

So tell us, what back scratching have you done online, and has it paid off?