Making backlinks actionable again

In 2007, we shut off the linkdomain attribute in the advanced query syntax, but promised to make link data available to you as soon as possible. Last fall when we launched the initial beta of the Live Search Webmaster Center, we offered a limited look into backlink data. But we soon realized that for you to be successful, you really need more and better backlink data.

That’s why we’re really excited about the updates that we a have built into the backlinks tool. We’ve significantly enhanced this tool, giving you access to more data about your referring links. This information is useful because backlinks influence the rank of your site. But there are other reasons to look at who is linking to you. For instance, web publishers need to know which sites link to them because these pages discuss the products or services they offer, and identifying them can be a valuable tool for finding sources of promotion or feedback.

Once you know who is linking to you and what pages on your site they are linking to, you can further research those sites to determine the worth of those links, as well as opportunities for promotion. The quality of links is important and knowing who links in to your site can help you determine the value of those links.

Thinking Globally

For example, a popular site here at Microsoft is the community site. In the last few years the team that authors the site has added more international-focused content. As the site owner for, it is valuable for me to understand the sites from the target region that are linking to me. To check what German sites are linking to the community, all you have to do is open the Backlinks tool, add “.de” to the filter, and select include.


The resulting list shows you who is linking from that market, and can provide you insight into the quality of site that is linking in.


Are you social?

One hot topic is the impact of social media on a site’s performance and traffic, but even more important is that social media often lets you hear what people are saying about your business or your content. For example, a large site like MSN’s Money Central site can benefit from the traffic that comes from a Reddit or Digg, but as the site owner I want to know what people are saying about the articles. I can track posts on Reddit by “zooming” in on links from


Looking deeper

There is no shortage of sites that provide insight into financial markets, but quality content may be hard to find. Looking deeper at your backlinks can provide insight on whether your content is being linked to by well-respected institutions in your industry, or if you need to work on promoting your site better or improving your content. For example, as the owner of the MSN Money Central site, I might want to find out if the Wall Street Journal is linking to any of our analysis. Again, by filtering to include only the, I can get a picture of where and when the Wall Street Journal has chosen to link to us.


This data can also be used to start a conversation about promotional opportunities between your site and the industry veteran.

Getting more

In the Wall Street Journal example, there were more than 3000 links from the to MSN Money Central, but we only display the first 20. For large result sets like this, you may need to take the data offline into Excel or some type of database for analysis and collaboration with a client, marketing or engineering partner. To enable that, we’ve provided you the ability to download the first 1000 results to a CSV (comma-separated values) file that can be easily opened with Microsoft Excel or imported into a custom reporting tool.

We hope that Webmasters will find this tool helpful in improving their rank. We’d like to hear from you about how you are using the data, or if you have any feedback on how we can improve this tool in the future, let us know in our forums.

–Jeremiah Andrick, Program Manager, Webmaster Center