The Complete Guide for Conducting a Link Audit
Whatever is written about the capabilities of individual tools, about the check of the link profile, or adjustment of the strategy of the building up the link profile on the site, one thing is clear. These are complex and time-consuming processes. It is not enough to get the necessary data. It should be correctly calibrated.
What is the link profile?
A link profile is a set of all external links to the site from other pages. Qualitative external links continue to be one of the most critical factors in the ranking of websites. However, the sharp appearance of a large number of low-quality links instead of good positions can lead to sanctions from search engines.
According to Google's recommendations, you should strive to create high-quality, unique content on the site. Owners of other pages will link to this content for natural reasons so that the site will be promoted naturally. Placing paid and similar links, optimized for certain queries, may lead to the deterioration of the site's position in search results.
Why work with a link profile?
High-quality external links are still an essential factor in the ranking of pages. A link profile is recommended to check regularly: some sites are closed, some webmasters remove links. Frequently, several specialists may work on the same project. What if one of them decided to buy external links without the knowledge of others? If you do not keep track of time, you can get the sanctions of search engines.
Who needs a link profile audit and when?
It is necessary for all sites and should be done systematically (at least once a month to look at the links' growth dynamics of indicators).
The audit will help maintain order in the link profile. It helps to solve dangerous situations, for example, when competitors have used unscrupulous SEO tactics against you, and there is a need to respond quickly to avoid the harm of a site. Or on the partner page, there were set-up failures, and you have +10000 links per day.
It is also useful to carry out a complete audit of your website's link profile at least once a year, as well as competitors' websites, to find new sources of links.
The signals that the audit should be done urgently are:
- A fall in the search results without visible reasons.
- A suspicious increase in non-target traffic.
- The site has fallen under the filter.
Analyzing the link profile you can get:
- The development dynamics of the link profile.
- The total number of links and referring domains at the moment.
- Increase or decrease the inflow of external links. For example, when there is a spike in growth, you can find the sources of activity.
- Analysis of anchor list, link types, domains regionality, and other point indicators that help develop a website promotion strategy.
- Information that can help avoid filters.
- Information on "useful" and "harmful" links that help adjust your strategy for building a qualitative link profile and cleaning up poor links.
- Information about the diversity of external links (information resources, product catalogs, forums, company directories, social networks, etc.).
- Amount of dofollow and no follow backlinks.
All these data are necessary to determine and understand the work of the specialists who conducted the project before you. You can find out the probability that the site may fall under sanctions, what links need getting rid of, as well as to determine the direction of the link profile of the site, what links to order, and so on.
What links are qualitative?
The content of quality links on the site carries useful information to the user, link's text (anchor) inside the tag <a></a> does not contain commercial queries with the words "buy", "price", "cost", "sale". These words are called transactional, they always irritate users.
Link's donor should be selected responsibly:
- The donor site should be a year older than the regional resource that clearly corresponds to the topic of the project. What to do if you have to choose between a site that is clearly suitable for the topic in another region and the site with the right region but blurred themes? It is still worth making a choice in favor of topics. The users want to see a logical continuation of what they read, even if the region on the link will be different.
- One of the most important parameters of a quality donor site is traffic. The higher the traffic, the better it is for the site.
- The donor site should have more incoming links than outgoing ones. It means that the page does not trade links, or does it carefully.
- Also, install the MajesticSEO plugin and check the Trust Flow and Citation Flow indicators. The acceptable result is over 20.
- Check if the donor site is under the sanctions of search engines. Use XTOOL to do this.
How to develop a strategy for building a link profile?
There is no canon on building up a link profile. Here is a list of recommendations based on ten years of experience of our specialists:
- The link profile of the site must be as diverse as possible - dofollow, nofollow links, pictures, anchors in the text, etc.
- Leave links to the site on forums and services like Quora.
- Build up the link profile smoothly, without sharp jumps. It is important to take into account that the speed of link growth is different for the new and for the old site.
- Necessary to work with social networks - search engines take them into account.
- Give preference to links without anchors.
- It is desirable not to develop a link profile on the same resources, except for trust sites with actively discussed topics and great traffic to your site.
Everyone chooses the ideal strategy for themselves. The only really valuable rule is not to make a strategy at random, guided only by manually collected data.
Tools that will help you with a link audit
Ahrefs is the most popular service for analyzing the link profile of the site. It was created for analyzing the link profile/ Over time, it has gained other useful features for SEO-specialists. It contains a large functionality and a database for strategy building. Here you can find a lot of different information: the total number of donors, anchor list, analysis of competitors, amount of broken links, and so on.
Easy data presentation, graphs, detailed reports. Ahrefs can be used to analyze the quality of links that refer to the site using DR indicators, URs, and additional data. This service is for analysis of external website optimization. It also shows data in the form of charts and graphs. Ahrefs is a Multifunctional SEO platform with the possibility of detailed link analysis (domains, pages, link anchors, etc.)
At sharp changes in the dynamics of link growth, you can see on what day and how many new donors have been added/removed in a convenient table in the menu. According to this information, you can adjust the strategy to develop a link profile or send some sites to disavow. It's all individual.
Serpstat is a convenient and clear SEO platform for website audit, which contains information not only about donors and links but also a tool for selecting keywords. As part of this service is the available information on the number and growth schedule of external links, regionality, and the ratio of dofollow and no follow links, anchor list. Also, you can monitor the link profile of competitors. Serpstat greatly helps in the analysis of basic data about the number and types of referring pages and domains to the site.
Serpstat provides users with an analysis of the link profile and position dynamics of the site. It shows the dynamics of the link profile growth of the site.
Semrush is a service with the help of which you can get information from Google and Bing not only for your own site but also for a large number of foreign sites (in Semrush, their database is larger than in other services). Among the pleasant features - competitor analysis function, website rating, and trust indicators, which can be used to analyze the quality of referring domains. Basic information about donors, links, anchors, and illustrative charts are also available.
Semrush proved to be more useful in analysis and work with large sites than, for example, Serpstat. It greatly helps in the analysis of basic data about the number and types of referring pages and domains to the site. It is convenient to analyze individual donors for quality using unique visibility indicators and other key points. This service suite for the analysis of external links, also it allows you to check the authority of the domain.
Service for checking backlinks to the site. Majestic data often use other services in which link profile analysis is an additional function without detailed information. Website link history data, anchor list, various link type ratios are available to help you investigate links to your site in more detail. This service allows checking backlinks to the site. It can examine the URL in detail and show you the link history of the site.
It seems to many SEO-specialists that the visual perception of the presented data is less pleasant. You need to get used to it and sort it out. The tool also allows you to comprehensively explore the domain/URL (links, history, traffic, queries, regions, check keywords, compare link profiles).
5. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a free, simple online tool for link profile analysis. All you need to do is to register on the site. Screaming Frog SEO Spider is very accessible and understandable.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider has an additional tool - search for donors for the general group of the site (in comparison with competitors). It can be useful in the implementation of the strategy to build external links. The service has its own link exchange. Screaming Frog SEO Spider is suitable for link analysis, but it does not provide detailed information. For example, if there was a sharp jump or drop in the number of the links, then there is no data, when and what links appeared, and how they can be eliminated. So, you will have to use additional services.
The audit of the link profile is a mandatory stage of site optimization. No matter how competently performed the work, small flaws always appear. The sooner you detect and correct errors, the less risk of getting under the filters of search engines. Moreover, the higher chances to take a leading position in the search results.
Marie Barnes is a Marketing Communication Manager at Adsy where you can buy backlinks at moderate price. She also writes reviews for GearYoda. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.