A comprehensive backlink audit is an important step in boosting your website’s online presence. By evaluating the network of incoming links, search engines like Google determine your site’s reputation, quality, and trustworthiness. Garnering more high-caliber backlinks translates to higher credibility endorsements in your niche.
So, what are backlink audits, and how do they help grow organic traffic? Gain insight into the benefits of these audits and the methods for conducting one to help elevate your website’s visibility and reputation.
- A backlink audit evaluates the quality of links pointing to a website. It is important to do this regularly to eliminate spammy or unnatural links that could negatively impact SEO performance.
- To conduct a competitive analysis, use an SEO backlink tool that allows you to compare domains, including your own.
- After conducting an evaluation of your backlinks, determine which ones should be removed or disavowed using an SEO tool. This will help get rid of sketchy links that could harm your rankings.
- New opportunities for building quality links can be found by expanding your outreach list and fixing broken/lost links.
Backlink Audit Definition
A backlink audit is the process of evaluating the quality of the links pointing at your domain.
This is important because not all backlinks are of value or good for your website. Some might negatively impact your site’s SEO performance and domain authority, in fact.
This is where link risk management comes into the picture, which is the process of doing proactive maintenance on your domain’s backlink profile, aka backlink auditing.
The purpose of this process is to eliminate spammy and unnatural backlinks that might be negatively impacting your search engine optimization (SEO) performance.
In addition to helping you weed out potentially dangerous links, a backlink audit can provide you with valuable insights for future link-building campaigns, as well as help you recover link juice from broken links or lost links.
How Often Should You Do a Backlink Audit?
The answer is, as often as you can!
You see, the success of your SEO strategy isn’t solely reliant on the links you build yourself or the external links you include in your content; it’s reliant on the links others build to your website as well.
So, the more backlinks your website receives, the more frequently you need to be doing backlink audits. This is so you can eliminate bad links before they can negatively affect your website.
Ideally, you should be evaluating the quality of your backlinks, checking for broken links, and updating your domain’s disavow file on a weekly basis to get rid of bad links.
How to Conduct a Backlink Audit
Now that you know what a link audit is and why you should be doing it, let’s go over the steps you need to follow in order to conduct proper backlink auditing.
1. Analyze the Competition
Before making any adjustments to your backlink profile, you must first conduct a competitive analysis. In other words, you need to compare your profile with that of your competitors.
Conducting a competitive analysis will help you get a grasp on your competitors’ link-building tactics, as well as pinpoint weaknesses in your own strategy.
To conduct a competitive analysis, you’ll need to use a tool that can help you compare different domains, like Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush. For this guide, we’ll mainly be referring to Semrush.
Using Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool, you can compare up to five different domains (yours included). The overview tab will then reveal insights that are vital for backlink auditing.
Here are the insights you should consider:
- Authority score: Represents the link-building potential a domain has.
- Number of backlinks: Represents how your profile stacks up against competitors.
- Backlink types: Highlights the content that’s linked to the most.
- Link attributes: Highlights weaknesses in your competitors’ backlink profiles.
2. Evaluate Your Backlinks
Now that you have an idea of how you stack up against your competitors, it’s time for a backlink analysis.
The goal here is to find spammy links, valuable links, or link juice that you might be losing, or general weaknesses in your strategy.
Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool can help you with backlink evaluation by highlighting your site’s overall toxicity score, which is basically a representation of how many suspicious links are pointing at your site.
What’s more, the Backlink Audit can highlight the total number of analyzed backlinks. If the number is too high relative to the amount of content you have, then chances are that a lot of spammy backlinks are pointing at your site.
Other insights that this auditing tool can provide include the number of referring domains, toxicity score of referring domains, gained/lost backlink spikes, and potentially dangerous anchors. You can also see how many dofollow links you have.
3. Remove/Disavow Toxic Backlinks
Based on the insights generated from your backlink evaluation, you can now determine which links you should keep and which ones you should get rid of.
There are two ways to get rid of low-quality links that are harming your website: removal and disavowment. The first approach (removal) is when you reach out to the referring domains and ask them to delete the link, which can be a bit of a hassle.
The second way is to simply disavow the toxic link from the referring domains, which you can do through SEO tools as well.
4. Build New High-Quality Links
Now that you’re done eliminating toxic links that are pointing at your website, you should capitalize by looking for new opportunities to build high-quality links.
There are many ways to do that, depending on the tool you’re using.
With Semrush, for instance, you can connect your Google Search Console and Google Analytics to the Backlink Audit tool so you get recommendations on which web pages to optimize for backlinks. You can also expand your outreach list by exporting the referring domains’ data from Semrush’s Backlink Analytics.
What’s more, you can use the Link Building feature to fix broken/lost links.
Tips to Improve Your Backlink Profile
Here are a few effective tips and recommendations that can help take your backlink profile to the next level:
1. Create Linkable Content
Acquiring valuable backlinks that boost your domain authority naturally is all about creating content that others can vouch for and feel compelled to link to.
It’s also key to increasing your organic search traffic.
For that to happen, your content needs to be more thorough than that of the competition. This can be achieved using the skyscraper technique, which is researching the top-ranking articles for a topic that get a lot of backlinks, analyzing their weaknesses, and creating a superior piece of content on the same topic.
2. Start Guest Blogging
One of the most effective ways to get valuable backlinks and improve your site’s link profile is to take advantage of guest blogging opportunities.
Start by making a list of some of the most relevant domains in your niche.
From there, look up if they offer guest blogging opportunities by simply Googling the domain name with phrases such as “guest contributor guidelines” and “write for us.”
One thing to be mindful of when producing guest posts is keeping your anchor text natural. Yes, anchor text should be descriptive, but keyword stuffing should be avoided.
3. Turn Mentions Into Backlinks
Another link-building strategy is to find mentions of your website on the web and turn them into backlinks.
To do this, you’ll need a tool that can help you search for mentions. Examples include Sprout Social, HubSpot Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite.
After finding link-less mentions of your website, reach out to the webmasters and request linking to your site. This way, you secure a backlink and increase the potential to receive more referral traffic.
Audit Your Backlink Performance
In conclusion, a backlink audit is the systematic evaluation of your website’s backlinks, aimed at identifying and removing harmful links that could affect your SEO performance.
Consistently conducting a backlink audit is essential, as it’s not a one-time activity. The more backlinks your website obtains, the more frequently it requires auditing to minimize the risk of negative SEO attacks.
As a general guideline, we recommend performing a backlink audit on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. This practice ensures you keep spam sites in check, recover misplaced backlinks, and guarantee that all referring domains are top-quality.
Raymond Li is known for his deep understanding of SEO and ability to develop successful client campaigns. His technical expertise and creativity have helped businesses of all sizes to improve their organic search presence. Ray enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and exploring the local cuisine when not dominating the SERPs for a wide array of juicy keywords.