Backlink auditing, let's admit, is not glamourous. Not just because the work itself can get rather monotonous but also because backlink auditing is performed mostly when the website is already in trouble.
The simple fact is, the better the quality of your backlinks, higher the chances of good rankings on search engines. More importantly, fraudulent backlinks nowadays swiftly attract penalties; and every marketer know how troublesome it gets once a site is penalised, demoted or de-indexed.
Which is why, when it comes to backlinks, the smart marketer is always safe than sorry. And the best way to be safe is to regularly audit your backlink profile.
An ideal backlink profile would have…
- Links that are wholly relevant to the page it is leading to.
- Links that are not ‘unnatural’; in other words, they shouldn't be links that you have paid for or obtained through sneaky ways from the benefitting website
- Links must offer the customer value and lead him to the information he is seeking
How to find your backlinks
To begin the audit, first you have to discover all the links that point to your site. There are basically four major ways to pull out this data. They are:
- Google Search Console
Of these, Google Search Console is the most popular. Moreover it is free. The Console includes a section that lists all the backlinks Google has indexed for your website and it can be extracted by navigating to the ‘Search Traffic’ section and clicking on ‘Links to Your Site’ button.
But do remember that the Search Console is a basic tool and if you are keen on deeper insight and analysis, you should consider the other tools mentioned.
What to focus on while conducting the audit
A thorough backlink review will not weed out the unnatural and weak links but also help you identify potentially valuable links that can help you optimise your rankings. A backlink audit consists of several crucial elements. Let us examine a few.
1. Check your referring domains
Building a large link base from all possible sources without paying attention to the quality of the links is a common mistake. Domains that link to your website must be trustworthy, authentic and relevant to your industry. Google is too clever not to recognise an unnatural link -- such as a food website linked to a carpet seller's page.
2. Referring countries
The links should not just be domain relevant but also originate from relevant countries. For instance, if you are a small local eatery in India and all your links originate from Japan and Italy, the red flag will be raised immediately (unless you are genuinely targeting these countries).
3. Check your anchor text
While auditing it is important to pay attention to the text that is used by companies linking to your site. Some websites try to increase their rankings by including keywords in their anchor text. While this is not a bad practice, marketers should ensure that the text is not crowded by commercial keywords and it remains natural and diverse.
4. Are your links unnatural?
Unnatural links can immediately lead to penalization and even de-indexing of your website. They also violate Google's quality guidelines. Keep an eye on any such warning messages you may receive in the Manual Actions section of the Google Search Console.
5.Identify harmful links
Identifying potentially harmful and weak links is half the job done. Pay attention to the links from:
1. Spammy websites
2. Paid posts
4. Websites with duplicate or fake content
5. Comments sections of other websites
Evidently, the importance of a backlink audit cannot be underestimated. But it is also vital for marketers to know the right way to audit your backlinks and keep your website clean. Which is why a periodic spring clean is always recommended.