A post on the Google blog pointed me to the Google Webmaster Central service. To access this service, all you need to have is a Google account (you already have it if you use Gmail, Blogger, Orkut, etc.). You can easily add your site to this service and verify your access to your web site either by uploading a page to your site with a unique name provided by Google or by adding a META tag to the default page of your site with a unique content provided by Google.
Among other things, this service lets you find out who links to your site. The difference between this service and the "link:" operator in Google searches is that this service actually works. The service also lets you know which search queries lead people to your site and how likely they are to hit your site for a given search query. If you have ever wondered how people discover your site, this is a fascinating way of knowing a large part of the answer to that question.
For example, currently these are the top 10 search queries on Google that are likely to lead people to my web site:
- tangram history
- ranjit mathew
- paradoxical puzzles
- gcj windows
- matthew symonds economist
- how to beat voldemort on harry potter goblet of fire gameboy advance
- "* dataone it"
- ananth chandrasekharan
Most of the links to my web site are created due to the signature that I attach to the messages that I send to various mailing lists and that then gets archived all over the place. The second most common reason is that my blog and the blogs of some of my friends have a link to my web site in their "Links" section, which then gets replicated in the individual page for each of their posts. The third most common reason is that my profiles on sundry web sites link to my home page. There are actually very few "third parties" that link to my web site.
Of course, some of this information is also provided by the referrer logs and the analysis tools provided by Hosting Zero.