It’s not all about content
Building a web site is all about creating great content that is going to be found by search engines. No doubt you have spent a great deal of time, effort and money doing keyword research. Then using your keywords to create compelling content for your target audience. You have probably spent hours thinking about your internal linking structure, to enhance both SEO and user experience. An internal link audit will help to make sure your content is optimized as much as possible. Internal links pointing to most profitable pages is an easy way to optimize your site. Free link audit tools like Screaming Frog can help to do this. On page Link Audit SEO is still a very underused strategy and one that we should all be thinking about today.
Now that your content is top notch, you want your important pages to be found by search engines. You will want to rank higher than your competitors and ideally rank number one in Google for your most profitable keywords.
As much as pay-per-click advertising can be useful, what you need is organic traffic. The only way you are going to get organic traffic is by having external links to your site.
The good and bad links
The idea is that you provide great content and people willingly link to your site naturally. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. When you look at your competitor’s links it will become clear. Maybe you will notice that they have 100 links or more and you only have a handful. If so, it’s time to look at link building. It’s no secret that Google will look at the number of referring domains your site has. The anchor text is also highly relevant as a ranking factor too.
Building links comes with its negative side too. Google does not want you to build links and it is a violation of their Google Webmaster Guidelines to do so. Since 2012 Google has been issuing manual penalties to webmasters who have unnatural links in their backlink profile. Over the years there have been SEO tools that could build links for you. SENukeXcr could auto-generate as many links as you could wish for. Quality, of course, was a different matter.
Autogenerated spam links are obviously bad links. However, Google will now object to paid guest posts, paid directory submissions, link exchanges, forum spam, profile spam and much more. There are of course links that may be out of your control, for example, scraper sites
It’s not just Google manual penalties that are a problem either, algorithmic penalties are now rife. The Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm is built into its core algorithm now. This means that sites with over-optimized anchor text can plummet in rankings overnight. Unlike manual penalties, algorithmic penalties are not visible in Google Search Console.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. In late 2012 Google gave us the Google Disavow Tool. Its correct name is actually, the Google Disavow Links Tool. Now you could do a website link audit and use a disavow file to improve your link profile. Google Engineer Matt Cutts told us that most webmasters will not need to use the disavow tool. That was back in 2012. Today we believe you should use the disavow tool to pro-actively look after your link profile.
How to conduct a link audit to keep your site safe
In theory, the process of a backlink audit is fairly simple. If you want to protect your site from Google manual actions and algorithmic penalties, here is what you do:
- Gather as many link sources together as you can, e.g. SEMRush, Majestic, Ahrefs, Moz, Google Search Console external inks as possible
- De-duplicate your lists and discard the links to your site that are now dead
- Look at each link to check if it is spammy, unnatural or manipulative
- Try to get any undesirable links removed
- Add any undesirable links that cannot be removed to a disavow file
- Use the disavow tool to submit the disavow file to Google Search Console.
What about a Competitive Website Link Audit?
So a link profile audit sounds easy, right? Not really, there are many many factors that determine a bad link. In reality, your link profile should emulate your competitors. Ideally, those who are already ranking on the first page for your most profitable keywords. So a mixture of good and bad links is actually quite natural.
There are more factors to consider in your competitors link profile too. What is the NoFollow/Follow link attribute ratio? What is the text link/image link/redirect link ratio? What kind of country distribution do their backlinks have? You get the idea, there is a lot to consider.
There is an added complication when doing a competitive link audit. You will have no clue if your competitors are using the disavow tool or not. Doing a link profile audit on your competitor may reveal a ton of bad links. However, they may have disavowed them already.
For competitive link audit SEO we use some excellent tools from LinkResearchTools.com:
- Link Detox
- Competitive Link Detox
- Competitive Landscape Analyzer
Is a regular backlink audit advisable?
Hell yeah. Especially in high margin niches or niches where there is a lot of link building activity. If there is one thing for sure, it’s much easier to prevent a manual action, than get yourself out of one. As much as we would love to take your money to fix a manual penalty, we’d rather not. It is less stressful for everyone to regularly maintain your inbound links with a regular link profile audit. Consider it as a kind of insurance to guarantee the health of your site.
So what is the best way to proceed with Link Audit SEO?
As you can probably guess if you want something done professionally, hire a professional. Why?
- We have been cleaning up backlink profiles and fixing manual penalties since 2013
- We have a 100% success rate in removing Google Manual Penalties
- We have removed over 1000 Google Unnatural Link Manual Actions
- Our fees are fair, not extortionate
- We are 100% transparent with our process and usage of SEO tools
- Link Detective are the best
One of the most important factors is to get as much backlink data together as possible. We use LinkResearchTools which has 25 link sources. This is more than any other SEO tool on the market. Some of their link sources are top secret, but we assume this is at least; Majestic, Ahrefs, and SEMRush.