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Why Are Backlink Audits Important?

What is a backlink audit?

  • 29 August 2022
  • Author: Eric Smith
  • Number of views: 111
Why Are Backlink Audits Important?

What Are Backlink Audits?

Backlink audits help you inventory and identify good backlinks and help you identify and eliminate the bad ones. Good backlinks pump up your rankings and move you to First Page Positions. Remember, backlinks play a very important part in effective SEO strategies if they are coming from a reputable site. There are two different types of backlinks: the good and the bad (a.k.a toxic).

Good vs. Toxic Links

What makes a good link, good? Simply put, good backlinks are from trustworthy/reputable websites. As an example, if you have a backlink from Yahoo! (which is both popular and reputable) this referral tells Google, “Hey, I (Yahoo!) am vouching for this, your website.” Google now prioritizes your website's rankings. This is the goal.

On the other hand, toxic backlinks, as you probably now suspect are not good. They tend to link from sites that are spam ridden, have broken links, include mismatched intent, and are non-indexed sites. These referring links decrease your reputation. Google negatively prioritizes your website's randing. This isnot the goal.

5 Steps to Complete a Backlink Audit

Executing a simple Google search, provides you wiht many different ways to complete a backlink audit. Using various tools can be handy for saving time and gaining more insight. Let’s look at some of these tools and dive into what to do after you’ve found and inventoried those bad, “toxic” links.

1. Choose Audit Software Tool(s)

There are software tools that fit virtually any size budget and and provide succesful backlink audits. Though you might find one providing results, typically integrating sevaral tools provide a more holestic view of your website. Here are the top three Epoch Online suggests and the pros/cons that accompany each:

Program Pros Cons
Google Search Central
  • Free to use
  • Accurate information
  • Most up to date
  • Time-consuming: Users have to evaluate each link
    manually
SEMrush Backlink Audit
  • Free to get started
  • Analyzes using 30 toxic factors
  • Checks each backlink for red flags
  • The “Free” version has limitations
  • Doesn’t show domain authority
  • Doesn’t show page authority
Moz Open Site Explorer
  • Finds broken links
  • Checks spam score of each link
  • Offers domain and page authority
    checker
  • Moz only offers link explorer on the Pro plan
  • Pro plan is pricey compared to competitors
  • Reviews show that it tends to miss some linking
    domains

2. Audit Your Existing Backlinks

Auditing your backlinks involves visiting each linking site and determining the credibility and value of the site. This means analyzing the:

  • Domain authority
  • Number of broken links
  • Content (are they spam-ridden?)

Assuming you have hundreds or thousands of links to sift through, doing this task by hand can be arduous and time-consuming, as we mentioned earlier. This is why you should definitely be using the help of an analysis tool like SEMrush or Moz to do the heavy lifting for you.

3. Probe for Link Penalties

Another piece of the backlink audit puzzle is searching for link penalties. These can be manual or algorithmic penalties and will show their face in a few ways:

  • Manual penalties: These are reviews by Google team members that have been triggered by spam or some other occurrence that warrants a human review of your site. This will usually result in a notification from Google warning you of the penalty.
  • Algorithmic penalties: A review by Google algorithms that are a result of bad links or content conflicts that results in a drop in your SERP rankings. These are harder to track and harder to fix.

While there is no sure-fire way to correct all penalties, you can avoid long-lasting effects by performing regular backlink audits, SEO audits, and content audits to clean up your profile.

4. Stop the Paid Links

Google has not been shy about its opinion when it comes to paid links. They refer to them as “Link Schemes” and it can have a negative impact on your site rankings. Here are a few examples of what Google deems to be link-building malpractice:

  1. Purchasing links
  2. Trading goods or services for links
  3. Using automated services to build links

If you are working on building up your backlinks, remember that organic link generation is best. We’ll go into more detail later on how to build a healthy backlink profile.

5. Prepare a Plan of Attack for Recovery

Unfortunately, the toxic links that you’ve uncovered are not going to disperse on their own; you’re going to need to put in some work to see improvement. Now, if you have hundreds of bad backlinks, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but breaking the task down can allow for breathing room.

There are two ways to eliminate these toxic links; request for removal and disavowing. Let’s look at each:

  • Request for removal: Sometimes, it's as simple as asking politely for the link to be removed. This would be the fastest way since they have direct access to the link in question. Draft up an email to the site's contact detailing who you are, your website, and the link(s) you would like taken down.
  • Disavowing: Since you’ll find that many malicious sites are unwilling to comply with your request, you will have to take the backdoor. Disavowing a link is the process of letting Google go in and remove these links. You simply take your backlink list and upload it to the disavow links tool page. Google will then review the list and incorporate it into their crawl index. This can take a few weeks, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see results immediately.

How to Build a Healthy Backlink Profile

Now that we’ve seen the best ways to identify and eliminate harmful links, let’s look at the best ways to build a healthy backlink profile. The tactic we suggest is White Hat SEO, where you put the user experience first and let the rankings fall in line naturally. Here are top techniques to follow:

  • Link building using unique guest posts
  • Web design built for the mobile experience
  • Optimize loading times and page speeds
  • Update your sitemap
  • Incorporate internal page linking
  • Add alt text and labels on images
  • Include SEO best practices on all titles, copy, and meta descriptions
  • Prioritize copy that is both unique and relevant, targeting long and short-tail keywords
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