There are a few good services that you can take advantage of, and the best part is most are free, or have a limited free side of their paid product. As we find high quality free or inexpensive services we’ll put them on the page here to share with everyone.
There is a great site that most people should be using called www.majesticseo.com. Everyone should make an account there because they let you look at the back linking profile of up to 10 different websites a day for free. You can put your website into majestic and see how your back link profile looks. You can then enter sites you are competing with and see how their sites look and how they compare to yours. Now you cannot get a definitive answer of how many back links you need to out rank them, but you can get an idea of how much work you will need to do to out perform them.
With Majestic you are able to find the amount of back links as well as other information. While back links are important, they are not the only reason you are able to rank. I want to address this early on because many business owners obsess over this too much. If you are trying to get back links to your site there are good and bad ways of doing this. First I cannot stress enough that if you use software to build links to your website, there is a very high chance that Google will see this and cause your rankings to fall drastically.
The next important thing to know is that not all links are created equal. If you could get a link on the Yahoo main page it would be a far better link than getting 5,000 on sites like Bobschickenshack.com The reason for this is that Yahoo is a site established at not giving out links to just anyone, there needs to be some sort of reason. Any random site can give you a link, and the less it relates to the type of site you have, and the more links they give out to anyone, the lower the value of it.
Lastly, you can build traffic to your website through links, not just rankings. Most times when I put a link down to a site of mine, it will not help me in ranking the site higher, however they are in places that are related to my site, and because I engage people in a conversation or offer them something of value, a solution to their problem or whatever, they are more likely to click my link. If I get enough of these links out there over time, it does not matter where my site ranks because I will still be getting interested traffic to my site. Ranking would just be a bonus at that point.
By using Google Alerts www.google.com/alerts you are able to sign up to receive notifications in your email every time a keyword you are interested in is mentioned in a blog or on a forum or even on news sites. This lets you know about it and gives you the opportunity to go to that site and engage others in conversation. This is generally considered white hat as long as you are providing quality content or answering questions. This is exactly what I was talking about in the last paragraph on back links when I was talking about links that send traffic, and not so much rankings.
SerpFox is a great site that can accurately track the rankings of your website. If you sign up at http://serpfox.com/ they will give you 10 keywords you can track to see how you are doing for the keywords you think that your site should be ranking for. For a free service I have found them to be much more accurate than several paid services, and again its free.
You want to know where your customers are coming to you from, you want to know what on your page they find worth spending time on. If you are not using an analytic program you have no idea how many or who is coming to your site, or what they are doing on it. This is free, and while it can be complicated, you can track all sorts of things, set up events and goals. You can see the top pages and build more content around that for the users that like that information. This cannot be overstated, track the visitors of your site!!!