Links leading to your website can have a significant effect on the search performance of your website. However, the impact of a backlink on a website’s search performance can just as easily be negative.
Many link building techniques which were once common will now lead to search engine penalties.
About 59 percent of all companies have performed external link building for their website, but many of these have used sketchy techniques. Bloggers, top brands, and small businesses are also jumping on the external link building bandwagon.
Before you start a plan for external link building for your website, you need to perform a backlink analysis.
That way, you will be able to identify all the good and bad links leading to your website. The good links will positively influence your search performance while the bad links have the potential to negatively influence your search performance.
One study by Ahrefs demonstrates the link between a strong backlink profile and organic traffic:
What Is Backlink Analysis?
Nowadays, Google is more focused on user intent rather than the keyword phrases that users search for. In the past, any type of backlink would benefit your website. While Google never approved of bad links, they didn’t always have a system for identifying bad links.
However, both the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have made it obvious that Google values earned links rather than build links.
If you want to boost search engine traffic, your backlinks are a good place to start. Backlink analysis simply means examining the sites which link to your site. The goal here is to decide which ones you want to keep, and which you don’t.
Good backlinks will increase your website’s organic traffic and search rankings. Therefore, you need to perform an extensive backlink analysis before you start building or earning backlinks. Always keep the domain authority of a website in mind to evaluate the strength of an external link.
It’s better to have a more strategic approach than to simply seek out links from any site.
What Is a Good Backlink?
Chances are, you receive plenty of advice to only focus on earning good backlinks. However, you may have no idea what makes a backlink good. The reason you may not have read many definitions of a good backlink online is that there is no single, comprehensive definition.
There are many factors to keep in mind when it comes to identifying a good backlink. At the same time, there is more to a bad link than it coming from spam or banned web pages.
In general, the more difficult it is for you to get a backlink, the better the backlink probably is. A good backlink is simply not very easy to get.
Imagine attempting to get an authority link for your website from Forbes, the White House, CNN, or Google itself. Undoubtedly, a single backlink from one of these sources would increase your search rankings significantly. However, the issue is getting the backlink in the first place.
In contrast, if a backlink is very easy to obtain, the value of the backlink is probably low. For example, if you want to get a backlink from a forum, all you need to do is add a link to your website in a reply.
This link will remain up if there are no moderators strictly monitoring the forum. Here are a few factors that will help you determine whether a backlink is good.
Quality Backlinks Are Relevant to the Topic of Your Website
The first way you can determine whether a backlink is good is if it is relevant to the topic of your page. The more relevant the backlink, the better the backlink.
Even if an irrelevant link proves to be a good backlink for your website, you can expect your conversions to take a hit. You can expect visitors to your website to be confused and annoyed if they find that the content of a page does not relate to the content of the backlink.
Here’s an illustration of the impact of good backlinks versus bad ones on your site:
Even if your web page is one of the top 10 pages in the search results for a keyword, irrelevant backlinks will still make it difficult for you to convert visitors into customers. Therefore, relevant backlinks are very important.
The links that tend to have the most impact on rankings are links from social media websites, SEO, and content marketing.
A Trustworthy Backlink Is a Good Backlink Source
A good backlink will come from a website that is trustworthy in the eyes of Google. Therefore, you should use the TrustRank tool to evaluate the trustworthiness of web pages referring to your website.
Some search experts will claim that 70 percent of the ability of a website to achieve an excellent search ranking is related to the sites referring to it. However, not every link is equal in terms of its effect.
Just one link from the Wikipedia website will do more good than a dozen backlinks from websites with a low TrustRank.
This is true even if the backlink from Wikipedia is nofollow and the backlinks from the websites with a low TrustRank are dofollow. The reason for this is that Wikipedia is considered a trustworthy website by Google.
When Google releases a big update, many people end up losing their rankings because their backlinks were not trustworthy. Just because your web pages rank highly now does not mean that they will continue to rank highly in the future.
Google simply trusts certain websites over others. If your website is not trustworthy, negative backlinks leading to your website will negatively impact your website’s search performance.
TrustRank refers to a ranking factor that permits Google to determine how a web page should be ranked. Of course, Google considers many other factors and not just the trustworthiness of a website.
However, your focus should be knowing whether you should trust a link to have a positive impact on your website’s search rankings. Trust depends on links.
Your TrustRank depends on the backlinks leading to your website. In the past, PageRank was the best metric for the quality of a backlink. However, TrustRank has now become the best metric. Google will not penalize any website that it trusts.
Links Within Content
Many people are unaware of the fact that the location of a backlink can impact the SEO value of the link. Links in sidebars and foot bars generally don’t have much weight. This is also true of all other site-wide links.
The best links for improving the authority of your website are links within the content. These links are referred to as contextual links. A backlink is even better if the referring page is relevant and trustworthy.
Google views contextual links from a relevant website as very trustworthy. Therefore, Google will reward your website significantly for these backlinks.
A contextual link can be an internal or external link. For example, you can rely on guest posting to boost your SEO campaign, you should keep in mind that guest post backlinks may not be as valuable.
This is true because guest post backlinks tend to be in the author profile or author bio area. A contextual link on the same web page would likely prove to be more valuable.
Also, if you happen to have identical anchor texts on the author bios of many different blogs and websites, it may end up hindering your website’s rankings. The issue that Google would cite is duplicate content.
You need to have links in your author bios and these author bios need to be different from blog to blog.
You should try to build and earn contextual links as much as possible. Contextual links are viewed as good links in the eyes of Google. Therefore, contextual links will boost your website’s search performance significantly.
The reason Google values contextual links is that the search engine company is dedicated to providing users with better search results. Therefore, search results need to be based on both context and content.
When a search engine crawls a web page, the robots identify any links and evaluate the text surrounding the link. This will allow the robot to determine whether the anchor link is relevant to the content of the rest of the page.
The robot will look for keywords that they can reasonably expect to see if the anchor link is truly relevant to the rest of the content on the page.
Backlinks are incredibly important for improving the authority of your website. For more information about how to check backlinks and improve your website’s backlink profile, don’t hesitate to contact us.
How to Conduct Backlink Analysis: Two Methods
There are a few different methods for conducting backlink analysis. For instance, there are a number of premium tools which are specifically aimed at doing this. Let’s look at two potential options – one free tool, and one premium one.
Free Backlink Analysis Tool: Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Perhaps the most popular free backlink analysis tool is Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker. Backlink checker allows you to enter any domain, and see every site which links to it.
The results can then be sorted by domain authority, page authority, relevance and traffic. It is up to you to decide what threshold for each of these metrics would mean a backlink should be kept or disavowed.
As Ahrefs allows you to check the backlink profile of any domain on the internet, it is also a very useful tool for competitor analysis.
Premium Backlink Analysis Tool: SEMRush Backlink Audit
Ahrefs’ competitor, SEMRush also offers a backlink analysis tool, as part of their licensing options. However, unlike Ahrefs, SEMRush does not offer a free standalone tool.
Despite this, there are many advantages to the premium option.
For instance, email outreach to site owners can be conducted within SEMRush, including gathering contact details and sending emails to request unwanted backlinks are removed.
Backlink Analysis: What to do Next
One goal of backlink analysis is to identify toxic backlinks, which you do not want to point towards your site. Once you have found these, you have two options for cleaning up your backlink profile:
- Asking the site administrator to remove the links to your site,
- Informing Google that you do approve of poor backlinks, and that you don’t want to be associated with them.
While the former option is more effective, it isn’t always feasible. For one things, it’s normally difficult to reach the owners of disreputable sites. Even when you can get in touch, it’s still difficult to convince them to remove a link to your site.
Let’s look at what you should do if you find yourself in this situation.
How to Disavow Toxic Backlinks
Luckily, disavowing toxic backlinks is incredibly simple. Once you’ve figured out which backlinks you’d like to disavow, all you have to do is create a .txt file, listing all of the relevant domains.
Then, head over to Google’s backlink disavowal tool, and simply upload this file. It’s that simple. After uploading this file, Google will no longer factor in links from these domains to your site.
How to Check Backlinks for your Website
Let’s recap. Backlinks are one of the most important factors which decide your ranking on Google. Because of this, many marketers put massive effort into maximising their backlink profiles.
However, not all backlinks were created alike.
The purpose of a backlink audit is to separate the links which benefit your SEO from the ones which do it harm. This should be based on authority, relevance and natural placement.
Where you have discovered toxic backlinks, you should then take steps to remove or disavow these. Then you can start worrying about replacing them with quality links, for instance through guest blogging.