Backlinks audits help you understand your link profile. They show you:
- The reasons people link to your website
- Pages that they link to
- Potential issues like spam links
This information helps you form more effective link-building techniques, reducing the chances of a Google penalty.
The eight stages you should follow while conducting a backlink audit are highlighted in this post.
A detailed evaluation of the links pointing to your website is called a backlink audit.
It’s essential to carry out a backlink assessment whenever you take control of a new website.
This process clarifies the situation you’re dealing with and empowers you to make any needed improvements before implementing other strategies.
Prior to initiating an effort to build more links, you can set a benchmark for your website’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by utilizing a backlink audit.
Understanding your initial position permits you to gauge whether your tactics are yielding new links.
Even if you have an established website that hasn’t undergone examination yet, it’s worth considering a backlink audit.
This action might reveal opportunities you weren’t previously aware of, such as articles that have organically generated numerous links.
To accomplish this, you can utilize a backlink checker and incorporate the findings into your SEO strategy. This approach will enable you to optimize your website by distinguishing between high-quality links and low-quality links.
Three primary reasons exist for conducting a backlink audit:
A backlink audit offers important details regarding the backlink profile of your website. This can be used to evaluate your website.
Assess the results of your link-building activities using the data. Or you can use it to assess how your website stacks up against those of your rivals.
2: Locate Faulty Links
Even though Google’s algorithm is getting better at ignoring these links, some still do. It may be better to remove links if you feel they are harming your rankings.
A backlink audit will highlight problematic links. This data can then be used to determine whether you believe the links are detrimental to your website. You can take action to delete the links if they are.
3: Look for Possibilities
Discovering potential backlink prospects also involves performing a thorough backlink evaluation. The outcomes of this assessment should impact your upcoming campaigns.
For instance, you can analyze the volume of backlinks directed towards various types of content on your website.
Generating a greater amount of such optimized content can contribute to an enhanced link building strategy, resulting in an increased number of backlinks.
You can only perform a backlink audit with the help of tools that can either be free or paid. Here are three of the most used apps:
Directly from Google, Google Search Console offers backlink information. It offers a ton of insightful information, such as:
- Number of sites linking to yours
- Anchor text
- Most referred pages
- The web pages that connect to yours
- Manual sanctions (if you have any)
There is no cost to use Google Search Console. The main problem is that compared to other tools, it doesn’t offer as much link context.
Due to this, utilizing the Search Console alone to evaluate link quality and identify issues or opportunities is challenging.
Ahrefs is a well-known tool for finding link-building opportunities and performing SEO audits.
It offers a wealth of details about your backlink profile, including:
- How many referring domains are there?
- Domain Rating for You (DR). This score compares your backlink profile to those of other websites and rates it out of 100.
- Your most frequented pages
- Data in anchor text
- The nation of the websites that link to it
The main advantage Ahrefs has over Search Console is the extensive context it offers for each link. And DR is a simple approach to evaluate the link profiles of other websites as well as your own.
The pricing for Ahrefs, which starts at $99 per month, is the largest problem.
Another well-liked SEO tool, Moz, offers a wealth of crucial backlink data.
- Number of connecting domains
- Number of inbound links
- Domain Authority (DA)
- Domain Authority-based Links
The Spam Score metric, one of the best ones provided by Moz, is a quick way to evaluate how spammy a site’s backlink profile is.
Although you may test out most of the tools for free, Moz pricing starts at $99 per month.
The metrics you need to perform a backlink analysis are provided by the majority of SEO tools. In the list above, SEMRush, Majestic, and SpyFu are all excellent substitutes.
Taking note of each of these metrics will provide you with a clear picture of the backlink profile of your existing website.
The 8-Step-by-step Process for a Backlink Audit
1. Evaluate Your Website
Getting a broad overview of your backlink profile is the first step in any backlink audit. Utilize this data to evaluate the performance of your website right now so you can track improvements.
This fundamental phase not only grants you a vantage point to assess the prevailing efficacy of your website but also serves as the cornerstone for monitoring and fostering future enhancements.
You should consider the following factors:
Quantity of Backlinks
The total number of links leading to your website is shown here. Even links coming from the same domain should be counted.
The Quantity Of Referring Domains
This is the total number of websites linking to your website. Do not include multiple links from the same domain when calculating your total.
Number of Dofollow Links
When ranking websites, Google’s algorithm takes Dofollow backlinks into account. Compared to Nofollow links, they are a lot more useful.
The Authority of Your Website
The majority of SEO tools calculate your site’s domain authority score based on the number and caliber of links pointing at it. Get a fast overview of your site’s backlink profile using these metrics.
Although there are several methods accessible to assess your domain authority score, we utilize Ahrefs’ DR.
Your Rate of Backlink Acquisition
This will demonstrate how quickly links to your website have been building up. When you launch a link-building campaign, you should aim to build links more quickly than this.
Taking note of each of these metrics will provide you with a clear picture of the backlink profile of your existing website.
2. Discover the Material People Link To
The following step is to identify the website content that has previously received links.
It is crucial to know these.
- For linkable asset outreach initiatives, articles with links are a good choice.
- A great strategy to gain additional links is to create material comparable to the content that already receives links.
- Internal linking allows you to transfer link popularity from your most connected pages to high-value pages.
Most likely, Neil has already performed a backlink audit and reached the same result.
By choosing the “Links” option from the side menu and then looking at the “Top Linked Pages” report, you can quickly discover which of your pages in Google Search Console have the most links.
You can learn more about your best-performing pages by using tools like Ahrefs or Moz.
Just pick the “Best by links” report under the “Pages” section in Ahrefs.
Let’s take Neil Patel’s website as an example. Below, you’ll find the pages on Neil Patel’s website that have the most links.
One of the top four pages offers a free keyword tool, while another provides a lot of information about how quickly pages load.
If I were in Neil Patel’s shoes and I wanted to improve how many links my website gets, I might think about creating new free tools, adding more pages with data about user behavior, or making content that focuses on how fast pages load.
Chances are, Neil has already done an analysis of the links pointing to his site and come to a similar conclusion.
Feel free to use optimization, Google Analytics, and social media when reworking the text.
That’s because some of his other most linked pages include:
- Free tools for analyzing SEO and A/B testing
- A number of articles on page speed
- A page containing statistics about content marketing
3. Search for Link Types
Discovering various ways to establish backlinks is essential. It can greatly help to know about the connections that already lead to your website.
This marks a clever initial step, especially if you’re new to a website. It doesn’t matter if you’ve recently acquired it or are taking on the SEO responsibilities from another company.
To examine your links, head over to the “Backlink Profile” section on Ahrefs and click on “Backlinks.”
You also have the option to arrange the links based on domain authority (DR) so you can see the ones coming from reputable websites first.
Alternatively, you can narrow down the list to only show “do follow” links.
During the audit process, which is a part of digital marketing, it’s crucial to differentiate between good and bad backlinks. This means keeping an eye out for new links is equally important.
4. Typical links to watch out for include:
These types of backlinks can impact a website’s search engine rankings and overall credibility. Here’s a summary of each type:
Guest post backlinks are acquired by writing and publishing articles on other websites. These articles contain links that point back to your own website.
This practice can be valuable for building high-quality backlinks and increasing your website’s authority.
However, it’s important to ensure that the guest posts are relevant, well-written, and add value to the host website’s audience.
Roundup articles involve gathering insights or opinions from multiple experts on a specific topic and presenting them in a single article.
Websites often use tools like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to gather expert opinions and include their backlinks in the published roundup.
These backlinks can be beneficial, but both the quality of the sources and the relevance of the roundup to your website’s niche are important considerations.
Niche edits involve one website paying another to insert a link to their website within an existing piece of content on the host website.
This method can be used to artificially create backlinks. Suspicion may arise when the anchor text (the clickable text of the link) is rich in keywords or doesn’t seem to naturally fit within the context of the content.
An excessive number of such links could indicate an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings.
5. Locate and Remove Harmful Links
This is an essential “defensive” play.
We have concentrated on looking for SEO opportunities thus far. However, a backlink audit should also be used to find any potentially dangerous links. After that, you can take action to delete these links.
Here’s a guide.
Step 1: Verify Any Manual Actions
If you’re managing a new website, start by using Google Search Console to see if there are any manual actions taken on it.
Find the “Security and Manual Actions” section on the sidebar and click on it. Ideally, you’ll get a message that says “No problems found,” like you can see in the picture.
However, if there is a manual action mentioned, your first job is to fix it. This is important because having this issue can make it tough for your site to show up high in search results.
Next, you’ll need to do a few things. You should get rid of harmful links or tell Google not to count them. The notice about the manual action will give you more information about what to do.
Once you’ve done that, you can let Google know that the problem is fixed by asking them to check again.
You just have to upload a list of websites you want to ignore using a spreadsheet in Google Search Console.
Step 2: Verify Any Spammy Links and Connections
Checking your website for spammy backlinks is a good practice, even if you don’t have a manual activity.
View Your Spam Score on Moz
Utilizing the Moz Spam Score is among the simplest ways to accomplish this. It displays the percentage of links from websites with characteristics with those that Google penalized.
A breakdown similar to the one in the picture below will be visible. The better, the lower your spam score.
Additionally, Moz displays a list of your links ranked from highest to lowest for spam. This is a simple technique to find potential offenders and get rid of them.
Check Your CTDL Score
Distribution of Country Code Top-Level Domains (CTLDs) involves domain extensions that suggest a website originates from a specific country, like .in for India or .co.uk for the UK.
Links coming from websites with CTLDs that are unrelated to your own website often raise questions.
If you possess numerous links from China, for instance, yet your content is solely in English, these links might be considered spammy.
The “Backlink Overview” report from Ahrefs provides this information.
It’s normal for most websites to occasionally receive links from countries that aren’t directly related to their content. However, not all of these links are necessarily spam.
Nevertheless, if a significant proportion of your links originate from such countries, it’s advisable to investigate the reason behind this trend.
The image below, which features the anchor text for the running publication Runner’s World, provides examples. The most popular text directly refers to the brand or discusses running-related subjects.
If many of your links include anchor language unrelated to your website’s information, you might need help. We created a guide that covers the best practices for optimizing anchor text.
Pay close attention to any anchor language that mentions gambling, loans, or prescription drugs.
How to Deal With Bad Links
You have two basic alternatives if you come across any hazardous links.
The first is just to walk away. Spam links are attracted to every website, and Google is usually very good at ignoring them.
If there are only a few unfavorable links on your website and Google is driving traffic to it, you generally don’t need to take any additional action.
However, you can disavow the links if you have a lot of unfavorable links and are concerned that Google might manually penalize your website as a result.
6. Search for Possibilities to Update Content
A backlink audit can reveal chances to boost traffic by updating old content. Finding web pages on your website with a lot of links but little search traffic is the goal.
The page can then be updated and optimized for a particular keyword to improve its chances of ranking.
According to the links report, you must return to Ahrefs’ top pages.
The estimated quantity of organic traffic for each page is viewable by selecting it from the drop-down menu on the page.
A page may need to be refreshed if you see a lot of links on it but little traffic.
Finding the reason the page receives no traffic while having connections is the key to raising your rankings.
There are numerous causes for this possibility.
- It’s time to update this outdated page.
- The page is not effectively SEO-optimized.
- The page doesn’t adhere to what search engines view as the term searcher’s purpose.
Check the pages that already rank for the target keyword before making changes to a page. Even after an update, you can still have trouble ranking if the pages that rank have more backlinks and authority than your page.
What Exactly Is Searcher Intent?
The concept known as “searcher intent” refers to what Google thinks a person is looking for when they type in a specific word.
If your webpage matches what Google thinks is the right intention, you have a better chance of appearing higher in the search results.
To figure out searcher intent, you can look at the content that currently shows up when you search for a particular word. Let’s take the example of the keyword “Best SEO tool.”
If you look at the articles that come up, you’ll see that they all have lists of different tools.
If your content only talks about why your product is the best SEO tool, it’s not likely to rank well. In this case, you should consider changing your content to include a list of tools.
By understanding and aligning with searcher intent, you can improve your chances of getting your webpage to rank higher in search results.
7. Recognize 404 Errors
When a link leads to a page on your website that is no longer there, a 404 error is generated.
Because users receive an error rather than the desired material when they click the link, it is detrimental to the user experience.
Furthermore, when a user encounters a 404 error, the link juice from the referring page is lost, which is terrible for link building.
The good news is that a simple fix is available. Redirecting the old URL to a new page on your website is all that is required.
Anyone who visits the old page after you do this will be directed to the new one. Additionally, the new page will receive link juice.
404 errors are simple to locate with Ahrefs. Select the “Broken backlinks” report from the “Backlink profile” sidebar menu to start. This will show you every broken link on your website, along with the pages that point to it.
Three broken backlinks from Backlinko.com are displayed below.
We can see that when we click on one of these links (from Neilpatel.com), we are directed to an error page that is broken.
You must configure a 301 redirect to a new page on your website after identifying broken links.
It’s relatively simple to accomplish this using either:
- A plugin for SEO like Yoast
- By changing the .htaccess file on your website
- Utilizing a feature your website host has made available
8. Optional Step: Research Your Rivals
Once you’ve accomplished the aforementioned procedures, it’s imperative to possess a robust comprehension of the backlink composition of your own site.
Within the context of the technique for assessing backlinks, the final phase is an optional one in which you conduct similar evaluations on the websites of your competitors.
This stage will give you the ability to compare and contrast the backlink structures of your website with those of your competitors’ backlinks and websites.
You can use this information to identify areas that require improvement and to uncover insights that can be used to refine future link-building methods that you intend to use.