Is It Time For a Backlink Audit?

by | Aug 29, 2023 | Business

Search Engine Optimization often feels like a confusing web of interconnected systems. You can try to do as many things as possible, but you may find your content isn’t ranking as highly as you’d hoped.

One of the best things you can do, whether looking at your website or handling matters for a client, is a backlink audit. Backlink audits let you know if a webpage is in good standing and who is referencing your site. I’ll explain the basics of backlinks and how to complete an audit in under an hour.

What Is a Backlink?

A backlink is any link from one website to another. In SEO terms, if another website links to your blog post or article, you can consider that a backlink. Having sites reference your content improves your SEO and helps you rank higher in Google searches.

Backlinks are a simple method to improve your SEO; you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of them. Crafting meaningful content that’s useful and worth referencing gives you a better chance of someone linking to your site and boosting your traffic and business.

How Do Backlinks Assist in Search Engine Optimization?

Backlinks help your website and SEO in a few ways. The most obvious way they assist you is by directing traffic to your content. Once you have someone on your site, you can keep them in the ecosystem with other internal links. Backlinks are an easy way to drive organic traffic to your website.

The other way backlinks assist your website, and the more pivotal factor, is how Google ranks your content. Google sees backlinks as a vote of confidence in the content of the URL of the backlink. If enough websites reference a singular webpage, the Google algorithm believes the webpage must be authoritative and vital to show people.

Backlinks have been the backbone of SEO since the early days of the internet. The original Google algorithm used backlinks as the primary signaler during its first attempt at ranking search results. Many SEO professionals contend backlinks are one of if not the most critical factors in a site ranking highly.

What Is a Backlink Audit?

Now that we know what a backlink is, we can talk about doing an audit. A backlink audit works similarly to a traditional audit. You want to make sure the backlinks to your site are healthy and see if there are any ways you can improve.

A backlink audit allows you to analyze the number of websites referring to yours, gain an idea of how much authority you have in Google rankings, and check the health of your backlink strategy. While it sounds complicated, any layperson can do a backlink audit and save plenty of money.

Your audit can also give you insight into your competitors and how you stack up against them. You can see what kind of authority score they have and get a general idea of their backlink strategy.

Many advertising companies and SEO professionals offer backlink auditing services. However, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in expenses just to know what sites reference your content. Instead, you can conduct the audit on your own using some of the tools of the trade.

How Do I Conduct a Backlink Audit?

If you decide to conduct your backlink audit yourself, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll use a few different tools to learn more about the sites referencing your content, including Majestic and Semrush. Here’s a step-by-step guide for you to understand some of the things to do when you want to conduct a backlink audit.

1.   Analyze Your Competitors and Compare Yourself With Them

First things first, we need to understand where we compare with our competitors. There are a few tools you can use to analyze the backlink profile of a website and compare it with others. Majestic and Semrush offer this service for you to use to analyze backlinks.

Using these tools is as simple as plugging your website’s URL into the search bar, hitting the compare button, and entering a competitor’s URL. The tool will give you a basic overview of how the two websites compare and the authority Google assigns to them. While the tools aren’t perfect, they give you a good idea of how two websites stack up against each other.

Even if you don’t understand all the terms in the tools from Majestic or Semrush, making this comparison with your competitors will give you a good idea of who is ahead and who’s behind in SEO.

For some, this step may be enough. But others may seek more data.

2.   Determine What Sites Backlink to Yours

Next, you need to figure out the websites posting backlinks to your page. You can use the Google Search Console to conduct this research. Other sites offer this service, but I find Google gives the most comprehensive look at what sites backlink to yours. After all, who would know better than the search engine rather than third-party software?

Semrush offers a very user-friendly interface for tracking all your backlinks, though you may find a few are missing when you do a deep dive into the data later. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is something worth keeping in mind.

3.   Analyze the Data

While you could conduct a manual analysis of every backlink, it would be a Sisyphean task for a website with even a moderate amount of traffic. Instead, we can use the Semrush backlink audit tool to quickly determine what websites are bad for you to have backlinks on or what pages backlink to your site but are no longer online.

If Google flags too many of the websites linking to you as using bad tactics or providing false information, it can hurt your credibility with the search engine. When this happens, you’ll find your ranking will suffer as a consequence. Even though you may have done nothing wrong, Google punishes you by association.

If your audit turns up several sites linking to you that you don’t want Google to associate with you, you have recourse. You can remove the links from another website by sending a message to the administrator to request they remove the backlink. This is a diplomatic solution and should be your first option.

If the website does not respond to you or decides to brush you off, you can use Google’s disavow tool to tell the search engine you don’t agree with the website using your link as a resource. Don’t disavow websites without some consideration, as removing too many backlinks may hurt your page in the long run.

Once you are happy with all the backlinks and find them all to be worthwhile, you can move on to the final step.

4.   Rebuild the Backlinks

The most important step is the one you take after the audit. Now that you’ve removed or disavowed any harmful backlinks, you need to take steps to regain any lost ground that occurred after removing the backlinks.

If your audit turned up some websites that used to link to your content but are now defunct, you could reach out to the administrators and ask them to fix the broken links or bring the webpage back online. Recovering these lost backlinks will help your website’s ranking.

You can also make plans for new link building. You can use tools to determine some sites you may want to reach out to about link building.

While an audit is practical to see the health of your backlinks, making changes and improving upon the situation is even more critical for your search engine needs.

Better Content Matters: SEO Content Specialists

Backlinks and audits are just one of the ways you can help your search engine optimization for your or your client’s website. Crafting the right content the first time is crucial for ranking in Google searches and making your site pop off the page.

To learn more about crafting successful content for your business, check out our blog. If you need help with SEO and content, the team at Better Content Matters is here. Contact us today to get started, and we can help you with your copywriting needs.

Nick LaBelle

Nick LaBelle

Nick LaBelle has been writing professionally since graduating from Penn State University in 2015 with a degree in English. He lives in western Pennsylvania with his wife and dog. When he’s not writing, Nick enjoys literature, film, anime, model kits, Pittsburgh sports, professional wrestling, and music.