Long-believed to be a critical element in the process of SEO, backlinks are considered a dirty word for many marketers, specifically due to Google's changing policies in regard to link building. Backlinks are an important indicator of authority, allowing Google to determine a website's value, and whether or not it delivers the information users are looking for.
Yet backlinks can be tricky, and webmasters need to rethink their link-building strategy in order to get their websites ranked higher. Unnatural links obtained from link schemes can do more harm than good, offering short-term results that make websites vulnerable to penalties imposed by Google.
And if you are not the one trying to acquire unnatural links, there's another and oftentimes much scarier premise: your competitors are submitting links to your website across the Internet to land you in the penalty jail. That's why doing back link audits periodically can help you identify bad backlinks and take further action to remove them.
The guide below shows you the process of doing a backlink site audit, as well as the variables to take into account in order to ensure that all of your links are completely natural.
Step 1. Find a suitable backlink checker. The most popular tools available for auditing your backlink profile are Ahrefs.com, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer by Moz. However, you will need to get a paid monthly subscription to get access to all of your backlinks and easily export them in a CSV file format.
Step 2. Once youíre found the desired tool, enter your website URL in the designated field, and wait for it to parse the data.
Step 3. Take the time to review the various information gathered by the tool. Regardless of the SEO back link checker you use, the report should be pretty much the same in terms of elements included: number of backlinks, number of referring domains, anchor texts, URL rating, domain rating, referring pages, and more. While they are all important, only a few of them will directly impact how your website ranks in search engines and these are:
The anchor text is a text that webmasters use to embed clickable URLs in. Most of the time, anchor texts are keywords instead of random phrases, and the more competitive these keywords are, the higher the website will rank for them.
In essence, if someone links back to your website with the anchor text, say, best digital marketing agency, this tells search engines that your website is very relevant to that keyword, so it will rank higher for it. Look at the anchor texts included with your backlinks if they are highly relevant, that's good, but if they seem randomly choose, have them changed or completely removed.
Are the referring sources relevant to your website or niche? If you have a website about shoes (and implicitly, in the fashion industry/niche), relevant backlinks should be coming from websites in the fashion industry as well.
This shows search engines that you have authority in your niche, helping you get at the top of search engines. If you spot a backlink in, say, automotive industry, itís not relevant, and it may actually hurt your rankings instead of helping you rank higher.
Domain authority is the most important factor included in Googleís ranking algorithm, and it is calculated based on different variables such as the number of relevant backlinks you have, relevancy of referring sources, and more. The domain authority ranks site on a 100-point scale, so the closer you are to 100, the more authoritative your website is (and the higher it ranks in Google).
To determine the domain authority of your referring sources, simply copy and paste the root domain name in another browser tab with the same backlink checker opened. If a website with a high domain authority links back to you, it means that your content is of a very high quality and likely meets Google's Webmaster Guidelines, thus giving you a boost in search engine rankings.
The modern era of information technology is dominated by social media, and websites with a good presence on social networks are usually given more weight in SERPs. A good presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other platforms shows search engines that your content is appreciated by your audience, thus ranking your higher.
Take the time to analyze the social credibility of your referring sources. Never let the number of likes, shares, tweets or +1s fool you many companies purchase them in 10,000-for-$10 packages, so they're of a very high quality despite the huge number. Instead, look at user engagement: how often do customers post on the company's social profiles, and how much overall activity does it have?
These are just a few of the things to keep top of mind when doing a SEO site backlink audit. Make sure to copy and paste bad backlinks in a separate document, so you can create a disavow file to submit to Google Webmaster Tools and have those hurtful links removed. This will increase your authority and help your website rank significantly higher, giving search engines no reason to ever penalize you.
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