The launch of Google’s Panda Algorithm update was rolled out on April 24, 2012, to diminish the search engine reputation of websites that had regularly been engaging in the usage of manipulative link schemes and keyword stuffing. This update has always been about discouraging the use of black-hat SEO techniques for increasing the search engine ranking of websites by certain web admins; manipulating the number of links pointing to the page is one of the most common practices.
Web admins have been indulging in developing, acquiring, or purchasing backlinks from low-quality or unrelated websites, commonly termed as the practice of link schemes. This practice has always been aimed at painting a false picture of the website’s popularity. Other ways of implementing a link scheme are article marketing, buying/exchanging links, blog/forum comments, and Link wheels.
Web admins employed this certain black-hat SEO technique to build their backlink profile for impressing the search engines until Google’s Panda became a part of the core algorithm in September 2016. This was when web admins were at fault, and everyone else started fixing their Link profiles to not fall down the ranking ladder. So, if you have been wondering about cleaning up your own website’s backlink profile and conducting a link audit, you are at the right place on the Internet.
What is a Link Audit?
Like a financial audit, a link audit is a practice of going through all the links present/pointing at your website. This activity is undertaken to figure out any existing bad backlinks from spammy or irrelevant sources or potential issues with the overall backlink profile. Apart from these, a Link audit also helps you ascertain how your website’s backlinks are helping or hurting your site’s SEO.
Even if you have an existing website or you are still in the process of setting up a website, you will have to do a Link audit sooner or later. By undergoing your site’s Link audit, you will be able to create a great link profile for your website with natural and high-quality backlinks. Hence, if you are looking to increase the PageRank of your website and enhance the link juice of your backlink profile, you must go ahead with your site’s Link audit at the earliest.
Here’s how you can do it.
1. Begin with compiling a list of your backlinks
First, you will need a complete list of the backlinks existing on your website, to begin with, the link audit. Then, you will have to figure out the entire list of pages from the web that presently link to your site. To find all these backlinks, you can either use some tool or get your backlinks from Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Once you have compiled all your backlinks, ensure that the non-existing ones have been taken care of and removed from your list. Now, it’s time for you to look at your overall link profile to figure out what is working for your website and what is not. By talking about your link profile’s overall assessment, we refer to your link profile’s strength.
Here are the other factors that you will have to check:
- It is great to have all your backlinks coming from unique linking domains instead of all of them coming from a single domain.
- It would be best to consider the individual performance of each of these links and their dofollow vs. nofollow ratio.
- If there are any no-follow links in your list, you must dig deeper and find out if there are more due to spammy techniques.
- Backlinks from homepages
- Geographical origin of backlinks
- Ensure that your website has other sites linking to your deeper internal pages since most of them typically land on your homepage.
- Weed out keyword stuffing and irrelevant anchor text; after all, it’s not going to be long before you get caught by the search engines.
You must also consider checking the link profile growth over time. Again, you can use the Backlink Progress and Linking Domains graphs to fulfill this purpose.
2. Time to weigh your links against your competitor’s
Your link audit will help you with wholesome results only compared to your industry counterparts’ link profiles. You can use tools to compare the performance of your competitors’ backlink profile against yours when weighed for certain link factors. Here’s what you can do:
- You can look for their SEO backlinking strategy and tap into the ones that you are missing.
- You can also pick on ideas regarding the anchor text owing to the anchor diversity that works for every site’s optimization.
- Highlight new link building opportunities
3. What about backlinks that are gradually killing your website?
During your audit, you must stay prepared to come across potentially dangerous backlinks. You can do it by analyzing the link quality of the linking domains. Now, the presence of these dangerous links on your website can end up in a penalty. So, figure them out by determining their risk value using tools and remove them from your website. However, don’t drop all of them at once, or your website ranking might drop. In addition, suspicious backlinks are yet another component of risk on your website. So, keep an eye on them as well.
4. Remove/Disavow the harmful links
Once you have figured out the links that are playing the culprit, it’s time to get them removed. First, you will need to contact the webmaster and notify them about the issue, requesting link removal.
There will be some links that you won’t be able to take down or remove. So, disavow them. Use the Google Disavow Tool to get rid of such links. You can upload and send a list of links directly to Google. However, be notified that this process will take some time, so stay patient.
In a nutshell:
A complete link audit procedure can be a very detailed job. Right from uncovering toxic/spammy backlinks, performing deep analysis on competitor link profiles, an in-depth backlink audit might be overwhelming for some. However, with the action points mentioned above, you can easily get the required work done. Once you are done, your website’s link profile will be spring clean, and you will be able to redo your search engine progress.
Kiera Hayes is a passionate Blogger and Marketer. She enjoys reading and writing articles whenever she gets time from her work.