Backlinks are a critical aspect of any SEO strategy, as they help search engines understand the importance and relevance of your website. However, not all backlinks are created equal, and a backlink audit is essential to ensure that your site maintains a healthy link profile. But what should you look for during a backlink audit? In this article, we’ll cover the importance of backlink audits, the steps to perform one, key metrics to consider, and how to acquire high-quality backlinks.
What is a Backlink Audit?
Search engines like Google use backlinks as one of the primary ranking factors for determining the authority and credibility of a site. Backlinks are hyperlinks from other websites that lead to a specific webpage. When one site links to another, it sends a signal to search engines that the linked content is valuable, relevant, and trustworthy.
Our backlink audit identifies, evaluates, and analyses the backlinks that point to your website and your organic competitors.
Why is a Backlink Audit Important?
Performing a backlink audit allows you to examine the link profile of your domain and your competitors. It can also help you understand their link-building strategies and identify opportunities to improve your backlink profile based on what the competition is doing.
A backlink audit is crucial for several reasons:
- Identifying harmful or low-quality backlinks that could negatively impact your website’s rankings.
- Analysing your backlink profile to improve your overall SEO strategy.
- Assessing your competitors’ backlink profiles to gain insights and identify opportunities.
How to perform a Backlink Audit
Analyse Your Backlink Profile
To perform a comprehensive backlink audit, you must collect data on your backlink profile and competitors. This can be done using Ahrefs. Doing so will give you a complete list of the backlinks pointing to your site and valuable metrics.
Identifying Low-Quality Backlinks
Low-quality backlinks, often called toxic backlinks, can significantly damage your website’s SEO performance and even lead to penalties from search engines such as Google. These detrimental backlinks usually originate from spammy websites, those with low Domain Rating (DR), or sites unrelated to your niche.
Spammy websites typically use black-hat SEO techniques, such as link farming or keyword stuffing, to manipulate search engine rankings. These websites often need better content quality and an unnatural link structure, which can negatively impact your site’s credibility if associated with them.
Low Domain Rating sites are those with weak overall authority in the eyes of search engines. This metric, calculated by SEO tools like Ahrefs, reflects the site’s ranking ability in search results. When your site receives backlinks from low-DR websites, it can signal to search engines that your site is not reliable or trustworthy.
Unrelated niche sites are those that have no connection to the content or industry of your website. When you receive backlinks from such sites, search engines may need help understanding the relevance of your content, which could harm your site’s overall rankings.
Assessing Your Competitors’ Backlinks
Analysing your competitors’ backlink profiles is an essential aspect of a backlink audit. By examining the patterns and strategies your competitors use to gain high-quality backlinks, you can identify tactics that may be effective for your website. This can include studying the types of content that attract the most backlinks, the industries or niches they are targeting, and the specific websites that are linking to them.
When you uncover tactics your competitors use to build their backlink profiles, you can adapt and implement similar strategies for your website. For instance, you might discover that your competitors are actively collaborating with influential bloggers or industry experts, creating valuable resources or guides, or participating in industry events and online forums. By leveraging these tactics, you can tap into new link-building opportunities to strengthen your website’s backlink profile and enhance your SEO performance.
Key Metrics in a Backlink Audit
Domain Rating (DR) is a metric developed by the SEO tool Ahrefs to measure the authority of a website based on the quality and quantity of its backlinks. Comparable to Domain Authority (DA), a metric created by Moz, a higher DR score signifies a more authoritative website with a higher likelihood of ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Both DR and DA aim to estimate a website’s ability to organise, although they are calculated using slightly different algorithms and data sources.
Referring Domains Relevancy
Considering the overall relevance of the domain from which your backlinks originate is crucial for your website’s SEO performance. A domain closely related to your niche will typically be perceived as more valuable by search engines, as it can offer users pertinent and helpful information. When a website receives backlinks from contextually relevant domains, search engines may interpret this as an indication that the linked content is credible and valuable, which can lead to improved rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Regularly reviewing the relevance of your referring domains is essential for maintaining a healthy link profile. This process can involve assessing the industry or niche of the linking domains, examining the topics covered on these websites, and verifying if they are closely related to your site’s content. By doing so, you can ensure that your backlinks come from authoritative and relevant sources that can positively impact your SEO performance.
Organic traffic is the term used to describe visitors who arrive at your website via unpaid search results instead of paid advertising or other sources. Monitoring organic traffic is a crucial aspect of gauging the success of your SEO efforts, as it can offer valuable insights into your website’s visibility, authority, and overall performance in search engine results pages (SERPs).
A steady increase in organic traffic typically indicates that your website is gaining authority in the eyes of search engines, your content is relevant and valuable to users, and your backlink profile is strong and effective. By keeping track of organic traffic metrics, you can identify trends and patterns that can help you optimise your SEO strategies and improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Correlating your organic traffic data with your backlink profile can further assist you in identifying areas for improvement and measuring your SEO efforts’ success. For example, an increase in high-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant sources coincides with a boost in organic traffic. This information can help you prioritise your link-building efforts and focus on acquiring valuable backlinks that positively impact your organic traffic growth.
How to Acquire High-Quality Backlinks
Create Valuable Content
High-quality, valuable content serves as the cornerstone of a successful link-building strategy. By producing valuable and engaging content for your target audience, you can naturally attract backlinks from relevant websites, strengthening your website’s SEO performance and authority.
Creating content that resonates with your audience involves understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points. By researching and identifying the topics that matter most to your target audience, you can craft content that addresses their concerns, answers their questions, and provides valuable information they want to share and reference. This type of content not only positions your website as a reliable source of information but also encourages other websites to link back to your content as a valuable resource.
Backlink Audit Snapshot: Huel Case Study
Step 1: Identifying The Competitors
Importance of Identifying Competitors
Knowing who your competitors are is crucial for devising an effective SEO strategy. By analysing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can gain valuable insights and develop a plan to outrank them in search engine results. For Huel, we used two of their organic competitors, bulk.com and myprotein.com.
Step 2: Analysing Competitor Backlinks
Tools for Backlink Analysis
The next step is to analyse the competitors’ backlinks. Various tools, such as their Domain Rating and Referring Domains, can provide in-depth data on your competitors’ backlinks. For our purposes, we will use Ahrefs’ overview 2.0 to get our desired metrics pictured below.
Step 3: Identifying Opportunities for Backlinks
Now we’ve looked at the quantity of referring domains, it’s vital that we also evaluate the quality. As we can see, competitors have numerous amounts of average, good and high-quality referring domains. This data shows that Huel should build links with 20+ to compete further in their niche.
Step 4: Implementing Backlink Strategies
Creating Quality Content
Now we have identified how Huel stands in the competitive landscape, we need to review opportunities for backlinks. It’s time to create high-quality, relevant content that appeals to their target audience and attracts backlinks. Consider the following tips when creating content:
- Focus on your target keywords
- Provide unique insights and perspectives
- Be informative and engaging
- Use visuals to support your content
Leveraging this content will help you to obtain niche-relevant, high-authority links that will aid in filling the gaps in Huel’s backlink profile that we detailed above.
Outreach Strategies for Link Building
With your content in place, reach out to websites linked to your competitors and pitch your content as a valuable resource. Here are some outreach strategies for link-building:
- Personalise your outreach emails
- Demonstrate the value of your content
- Offer to replace broken or outdated links
- Build relationships with influencers and industry experts
In addition, consider allocating a budget to Digital PR to land you high-quality links. As part of this strategy, we recommend utilising a link-building agency to strengthen your backlink profile.
Q: How often should I perform a backlink audit?
A: It’s recommended to conduct a backlink audit at least once or twice a year or more frequently if you’re actively building links or have experienced a sudden drop in rankings.
Q: Can backlinks from low-quality websites harm my site’s rankings?
A: Yes, backlinks from spammy or low-quality websites can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings, as they may be seen as a sign of manipulation.
Q: Is it possible to have too many backlinks?
A: While having many backlinks can be beneficial, it’s more important to focus on the quality and relevance of those links. A smaller number of high-quality backlinks is preferable to a large number of low-quality ones.
Q: Can internal links be considered during a backlink audit?
A: While internal links are essential for site structure and user experience, a backlink audit typically focuses on external links pointing to your site from other domains.
A backlink audit is crucial for maintaining a healthy link profile and enhancing your website’s SEO performance. By comprehensively analysing your backlink profile, you can identify and address any issues detrimental to your site’s search engine rankings while uncovering opportunities for acquiring high-quality backlinks.
Analysing your backlink profile involves evaluating the quality and relevance of the websites linking to your site. This includes examining factors such as Domain Rating (DR), anchor text, and the overall context of the link. By assessing these factors, you can identify low-quality or toxic backlinks that may negatively impact your site’s SEO performance.