Backlinks play a major part in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm. It is vital to research what type of websites are linking to your website, and if these sites are reputable. If you want to be sure that your SEO campaign is successful, you need to make sure you get quality backlinks from trustworthy sites.
To help you out, we have put together a backlink audit guide with tips on how to conduct a backlink audit.
What Is A Backlink Audit?
The backlink audit process refers to the evaluation of the quality of links pointing to your website from other domains. The aim is to identify any spammy or unnatural links hindering your website’s SEO performance or resulting in a Google penalty and to also identify potential backlinking opportunities to enhance your website’s backlinking profile.
Numerous tools are available on the internet such as Google Search Console, Backlink Checker by Ahrefs and The Backlink Audit Tool by Semrush which you can use to review the quality of your backlinks.
You can acquire the services of a professional SEO agency that will take a deep dive into your website’s backlink profile and provide a detailed guide on developing a link-building strategy.
A Step By Step Guide To Conducting A Backlink Audit
The process of analyzing backlinks is fairly straightforward. The following steps are designed to provide you with the knowledge of an ideal backlink audit procedure and how to conduct it successfully.
Step 1: Use one of the backlink audit tools mentioned above to conduct a backlink audit.
Copy your website’s URL and paste it into one of the free backlink audit tools and run the audit. Once the audit has been completed, you’ll get an overview of all the backlinks pointing to your site, this is where we get down to the nuts and bolts of interpreting the backlink audit data. You can also use Google Search Console to parse through each backlink pointing to your website.
Step 2: Determine the number of referring domains or backlinks pointing to your website
The first step is to find out the number of backlinks coming to your website. If the number of backlinks is too high, it could suggest a spam attack on the website. Contrary, if the number of backlinks is too low, you might not be publishing sufficient content on the website, making your website look spammier to viewers.
Step 3: Check for backlink variations over a certain period of time
Check if there is a sudden spike in the number of backlinks in a particular period so that you can find if anyone or anything is trying harming your backlink profile.
Step 4: Analyse the domains referring to your website
Make sure that all your backlinks are not coming from a single domain. If so, limit the number of backlinks on that particular site else Google will consider it as spam and will not rank your website.
Step 5: Analyse your backlinks to look for spammy or toxic links
Another crucial aspect to consider while performing a backlinking strategy is to identify spammy links. Spammy links come from toxic websites or a single website that provides extensive backlinks to your website.
Identify how many of such links are coming to your website and check for their attributes. Then, check the referring domain of those links along with their toxic score. High toxic scores can result in algorithmic penalties or manual penalties.
Therefore, find and analyse all the backlinks for your website and see if they are genuine or spam.
Step 6: Check for any link penalties imposed by Google
Google can levy a penalty on your site if the content is inappropriate, misleading, spammy, or in violation of their Webmaster Guidelines. Recovering from a Google penalty can be time-consuming and disastrous for your site. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines will tell you all about it.
There are two kinds of Google penalties:
This penalty is imposed by a member of the Google quality team on the occurrence of a negative parameter linked to your website. The penalty can have an adverse effect on the entire website or partially on some of the website’s web pages.
This is an automatic penalty levied by Google on identifying any wrong parameter linked to your website. Algorithmic penalties do not get shown in Google Search Console tools. Hence, make sure to stay clear of Google penalties.
Once you have completed the above steps, you will have a good overview of your website’s backlink profile. The next step is to remove any toxic or spammy links and analyse the quality of the referring websites.
How To Disavow Or Remove Spammy Links
Once you have found spammy links pointing to your website, the next step is to remove or disavow them permanently to prevent Google’s algorithm from recognising these toxic links as valid backlinks. There are two ways to do this:
- Reach out to the referring domain owner and ask them to delete the link (unlikely).
- Send the link to the disavow list and export it to the Google Disavow tool.
Reaching out to the owner of a referring website isn’t considered the best option as most of such sites are spam or perform black hat SEO practices and there are very few chances of contacting the owner and making them remove the link.
Therefore, it is advised to follow the second method and disavow the link so that Google does not penalise you. Disavowing means that you want Google to disqualify any incoming link to your site and let Google know the link has nothing to do with your backlink profile. Check the toxic score of the links that you think are spam and add the relevant links to the disavow list using the Google Disavow tool.
How To Evaluate The Quality Of Your Website’s Backlinks
Check the referring domains
You need to check which domains are driving the most traffic to your site. This will help you understand which referring domains are boosting your website’s backlink and what you can do to even the playing field.
The domain authority of the domains linking to your website
Domain authority refers to the score assigned by the search engines to websites and web pages to differentiate between good and bad websites. Hence, find out which domains provide links to your competitor’s website.
The anchor text used
SEO best practices dictate that anchor text be relevant to the page that is linking to your website, rather than generic text. If you have the same anchor text used over and over it will not enhance your backlink profile and might raise suspicion of spammy links or link building schemes
How To Improve Your Backlink Profile
The next step in the successful backlink audit process is to optimise your website’s SEO profile with the type of backlinks you want. Here are a few ways you can improve your backlink profile:
- Competitor analysis. Understanding your competitors’ backlink strategies and using them for insight has become very important in optimising your own backlink profile. It might also help you understand the process of evaluating backlinks in a more reasonable way.
- Create qualitative content that your target audience will share. This will draw more viewers to your site and, if they find value in your content, they might share it, which increases awareness of your site.
- Examine the data from the domains linking to your page. If they seem like spammy or low-quality sites, then it may be time to cut them out of the picture.
Lastly, Build Valuable Backlinks
Backlinks are important for your website’s SEO strategy because that’s how Google finds out that your content is valuable to someone else. That’s why it’s imperative that you do a backlink audit on your site regularly and never ignore it if you want your site to rank higher.
Author : Joel Nkadimeng