Meet Your Links: How to Complete Your Own Backlink Profile Analysis and Cleanup
Your social media profiles give friends, acquaintances and creepy internet strangers an idea of who you are.
Likewise, your backlink profile gives Google an idea of what your site is all about.
The main difference?
Backlink profiles aren’t quite so simple and tidy.
A backlink profile isn’t just a few pithy statements about likes and interests. It’s more like thousands of URLs that coincide with rows upon rows of data.
Once you’ve had a good look at your backlink profile with Monitor Backlinks, you might be thinking, “what on earth do I need to do with this document?”
It can be overwhelming at a first glance, to say the least.
However, analyzing this data is crucial for SEO.
Search engines trawl through this information when deciding who ranks for specific search terms.
It could be the deciding factor in whether you manage to hit the coveted first page of Google search results for your primary keywords or slip into the unexplored depths of page 50.
Luckily, this backlink profile information is much, much simpler than it looks—and Monitor Backlinks makes it ridiculously easy to break down, understand and put to good use.
What Makes a Good Backlink Profile?
A backlink profile is an overview of all the links pointing to your site from other websites.
Within this profile, there will be good, bad and neutral links from a variety of sources.
Search engines give rewards to websites that don’t go over-the-top with their SEO and don’t take artificial measures to make the backlink profile look over-the-top perfect—thousands of strong, relevant dofollow links without a neutral or nofollow link in sight.
That looks a little fishy.
Backlink profiles that show natural SEO activity—read: a diverse range of natural links that people added because they truly value your content—are better-rewarded than those using spammy techniques to achieve an illusion of SEO perfection.
So, a good backlink profile contains a variety of links from a variety of websites, with a variety of anchor texts (written for humans, not search engine robots) and a mix of nofollow/dofollow statuses.
For example, a good backlink profile might have 50 links from blogs, a further 10 from national publications, followed by 15 directory backlinks, 10 nofollow links from online forums and a handful of links from random corners of the internet.
That kind of pattern shows that your site isn’t going too over the top and dropping links in any place that will accept links because you think “any link is a good link” (which is not true!).
What you want to avoid is being too artificially perfect or having too many negative backlinks. Yes, those are a thing.
Bad links, which are spammy, excessive, paid, black hat or leading to terrible-quality websites will drag your SEO down, down, down.
The Dangers of a Bad Backlink Profile
Although backlinks are crucial for SEO, allowing bad backlinks to linger can be just as damaging as neglecting SEO as a whole.
When you gain a backlink, the authority from the linking site passes back through to your own.
If you’re grabbing them from any ol’ place on the internet, you’ll be left suffering with a bunch of site referrals from URLs that don’t explicitly relate to what you do.
For example, the Monitor Backlinks site wouldn’t want a backlink from a low-quality Chinese massage site.
Or a pet insurance site.
Or a site that sells $20 car insurance and spams you with aggressive pop-up ads when you visit.
Negative SEO and penalties
Having tons of links from bad, spammy or already-penalized websites could pass this bad reputation along to you, leading to negative SEO for your site.
Search engines will only place pages on the first page of the SERPs if they’re proven to be reputable, trustworthy and authoritative.
After all, they wouldn’t want to ruin their own reputation by showing results that won’t give users the information they need or that aren’t relevant to their search term.
When to clean house
The good news is that you can identify all of these bad links and clean your backlink profile by disavowing them.
This tells Google not to associate your site with theirs, to make sure that their bad reputation isn’t affecting your own.
First things first, though—let’s talk about how to find your backlink profile, analyze the backlinks you see there and take smart SEO action.
Meet Your Links: How to Complete Your Own Backlink Profile Analysis and Cleanup
How to View Your Backlink Profile
The Monitor Backlinks tool allows you to view every backlink that points back to your site.
With the free, no-risk trial, you can sign up and view your backlink profile immediately.
I’d actually recommend that you go ahead and do that right now, before you continue reading this post. That way, I can walk you through the steps of viewing, analyzing and working with your backlink profile.
Are you signed up? You might need to wait a little while before your backlinks will appear in the tool for a first time—go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee from the corner cafe, then come back and check again.
When it’s ready, follow the next steps here.
Start by meeting your backlink profile! It can be found by signing in and heading to the Your Links tab.
Make a Game Plan: How to Analyze Your Backlink Profile
As we’ve already touched on a bit, reviewing and analyzing your backlink profile is a key SEO technique to improve rankings.
The more closely you can stay on top of your backlinks, the better.
Keep an eye on new updates
Ideally, you’ll want to have automatic notifications set up to let you know when major changes occur in your backlink profile. When there’s a change—like a brand new backlink appearing, a good backlink turning bad, or a competitor beating you out for a choice link—you should be in the know.
That’s why I’ve stuck with Monitor Backlinks. It will send you an email immediately so you’ll be the first to know. Any time you visit your Monitor Backlinks dashboard, you’ll be greeted with an overview of backlink profile changes for your site—and for competitor sites.
Complete full profile analyses
Apart from your regular check-ins, you should do a thorough backlink profile analysis once or twice a year—at least!—depending on the state of your site and the number of links you’re collecting.
When the time comes to do a quick scan or an extensive overview of your backlink profile, you’ll want to consider the following points.
They’ll help you decide what’s good, what’s bad, which links to keep and which to disavow—they’ll even help you plan link building strategies and boost your overall SEO!
8 Things to Look For During a Backlink Profile Analysis
1. Total number of links
The first thing to consider is perhaps the simplest: The total number of backlinks pointing to your site. This can indicate how competitive your site is.
A large quantity of strong, relevant links—with a few okay and neutral links here and there—is a great indicator that you’re doing well online.
In Monitor Backlinks, this number can be found beneath your domain name:
Now, don’t be tempted into thinking that the higher this number is, the better the quality of your backlink profile.
Although this can give an overall estimate of how your backlink profile is faring, a very high volume of links could also include an abundance of bad links from spammy websites or even a flurry of harmful links linked to a negative SEO attack.
For that reason, don’t use the total number of backlinks as your only measure of a “good” backlink profile. It’s just a starting place.
For example, if you only have a couple of backlinks coming into a new site, you’ll know that you need to do some link building and improve this profile.
2. Links that Google considers
You can’t really tell how well your profile is until you’ve checked out how many links are indexed by Google.
In the example above, I saw that the total number of backlinks to my given site was 3,787. But when I only look at links that Google considers?
Wow, 2,643 of those 3,787 backlinks are considered by Google? That’s great to see!
3. Unique domains
You’ll want to see that your backlinks are coming from a variety of referring domains—or unique domains. If one domain is providing 100 backlinks to your site, that still counts as just one unique domain.
Google takes this into account, big time.
Multiple links from the same unique domain are worth less than the same number from different websites. Having 10,000 links from one single website isn’t worth as much as having 1,000 links from different, high-quality websites.
In fact, that many links from one website will probably kill your SEO and bury it six feet under.
Just like with a glorious Chinese buffet, it’s better to have a variety than be stuck with a heaping plate of the same exact thing.
So, you’ll need to check out your backlink profile’s number of total referring domains. In Monitor Backlinks, this figure is shown at the top of the main Overview tab.
In this example, we can see that all links in our site’s backlink profile are from unique domains. The total number of backlinks is identical to the figure given for unique domains.
If you have a large number of links from a unique domain, consider building links elsewhere to enrich your profile and gain precious link juice.
Again, try to avoid using this factor as your only measure when analyzing your backlink profile.
Combining this data with other factors will provide you with a clear, holistic picture when you’re assessing your site’s backlink profile, and it will allow you to see where your strategies are paying off.
4. Page performance
When organized from highest to lowest, the page performance data in your backlink profile shows which URLs on your site have the most backlinks pointing to them.
Within Monitor Backlinks, individual page performance can be found using the “Anchor & Link To” column.
These data can be used to better understand your site’s performance, and to know where the bulk of your backlinks are pointing to.
It’s also a good indication of how diverse your backlink profile is. Remember we said that variety is key?
So, this knowledge can also be used to improve your onsite and offsite SEO strategies.
If you notice that your highest-priority pages have weaker backlinks pointing to them, you could consider:
- Improving user experience on the page, making sure the page loads fast and that it’s easy to read and navigate around.
- Rewriting or enriching the content to improve the overall quality.
- Adding exciting images and infographics.
- Improving the page’s keyword optimization so it ranks higher in the search engine result pages.
- Conducting a new round of keyword research and optimizing for a less competitive phrase.
- Doing some link-building outreach!
5. Spam score
The spam score of a backlink indicates how spammy a site is seen to be.
It’s scored out of 17 and defined as “unique signals that a subdomain may be penalized or banned by Google.”
When analyzing your backlink profile, sort your list in order of spam score from high to low. Here you can see how I’ve done this with a click in the Monitor Backlinks dashboard.
Without sounding like a total Captain Obvious here, you should be wary of sites with a high spam score.
Disavowing these backlinks will prevent your site from being associated with their spammy ones, cutting the chances of your beloved website being penalized due to the association.
6. Anchor text usage
Since we’re talking about variety, each link’s anchor text will hopefully include a variation on a keyword phrase that you’d like to rank for—or at least something that’s quite relevant to your website and topics.
Anchor text is the text on the outside website where the link is embedded. For example, this highlighted text here is anchor text.
If the anchor text is relevant but varied, it looks less spammy and gives a natural-looking backlink history, containing links that were built credibly—and not just for SEO purposes.
After all, what are the odds that 100 different people will link to your website with the exact same keyword phrase?
Probably not good. Unless you’re paying for links.
To find the anchor text of a backlink, click Anchor Text in the right-hand column of the MB Backlinks dashboard. Here, you can search for backlinks by their linking text.
There are three types of anchor text that should be used throughout your profile:
- Exact match: This can be a brand name, or the keyword for your page (such as “Monitor Backlinks”).
- Broad match: The backlink is loosely tied to the topic of the linked-to page. (For my own professional website, this might be “freelance SEO writer.”)
- No anchor text: Where there are no words being used to embed the backlinks. (For example, this occurs when a backlink is embedded in an image.)
You may note that exact-match brand names or website names tend to steal the vast majority of entries in your backlink profile.
People tend to call things by their names, after all! They want to let their readers know where they’re sending them with the embedded link.
You can always reach out to webmasters to request a change in anchor text, but that’s a bit of an annoying thing to ask of most busy webmasters. Alternatively, you can send along a pre-written blurb and ask them to replace the existing text with yours—nice-looking anchor text included.
However, as long as you’re not seeing any scary, spammy or irrelevant anchor text, this is one of those smaller things you can just let go. Attempting to diversify your anchor text usage too much will avoid your site being penalized due to over-optimization.
You might be surprised to know that relevance is key for building a solid backlink profile, especially when I’ve been harping on about the importance of variety.
If everything is relevant, won’t that be repetitive?
Nah, it won’t. All of your links should ideally be relevant.
When analyzing your backlink profile, always ask yourself: Does the site I’ve got a backlink from discuss a similar topic?
Having backlinks that aren’t relevant to your industry won’t improve your SEO. Google will see you as a generalized site, not one suited to longtail, industry-specific keywords.
After all, a search engine’s aim is to display results that are exactly suited to what their audience is looking for, not kind of.
Let’s take a pet insurance website, for example. Their backlink profile should contain links from pet blogs, pet owner magazines and animal advice sites—not backlink from local laundry cleaner websites and random business consultant directories.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic filter to help you determine the relevance of each entry. Dig out your common sense and start thinking about whether the backlinks you’re analyzing do or don’t fit within your industry.
Just scroll through the “Linking Page” column and see what you can spot. Even better, refine your view to only show you links with warnings—flags that they might be damaging to your SEO—and then see what’s not relevant.
That’s what I’ve done for our site here:
If it has a warning and it’s totally irrelevant to your site, get rid of it!
8. Backlink placement
Search engines love editorial-type links that look natural on the page.
Backlinks that blend right into the content look more natural—and tie in with a lower spam score!—unlike backlinks that have been disguised behind white text, tiny font and code.
Consider disavowing any links within your backlink profile that don’t look like they’ve been placed naturally on the linking page, especially ones that also have warnings attached to them already.
Got a bunch of links coming from a somewhat relevant site but they can’t be found on the page when you click through to them from Monitor Backlinks?
That probably looks weird to you, and it definitely looks weird to search engines.
There’s not much use for these links since they’re not visible to site visitors. And we all know that search engines love user experience.
Disavowing useless links like these tells search engines not to associate your site with theirs. Plus, there’s a limited chance of somebody accidentally clicking through to your site and backing right out (one culprit behind high bounce rates, which are also bad for SEO).
As you can see, regularly maintaining your backlink profile can be a real lifesaver.
You’ll be able to identify bad links and disavow the sketchiest ones before they have a huge, negative impact on your search rankings.
And you’ll be able to plan for the coming month and weeks of backlink outreach, based on what you need to improve.
So, forget about Facebook—your backlink profile is really the one you should be excited about updating on the regular!
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