In the search engine optimization realm, backlinks are like votes of confidence from one website to another.
But more doesn’t always equal better.
This guide helps you understand:
- The difference between a good and bad link profile
- The 5-step process to analyze your link profile
- How to improve any issues
Keep reading below.
TL;DR: What Is a Backlink Profile and How to Build One
- Backlink Profile: A collection of all the inbound links to a website, critical for search engine ranking.
- Finding Your Backlink Profile:
1. Tools: Google Search Console, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, MajesticSEO.
2. These tools reveal linking sites, anchor texts, domain ratings, traffic metrics, etc.
- Analyzing Your Backlink Profile:
1. Referring Domains:
- Check domain authority and relevance.
- Watch out for suspicious or irrelevant domains.
- Monitor lost domains for insights.
2. Backlink to Referring Domain Ratio:
- Balance between number of backlinks and referring domains.
- Ideal ratios vary but moderate ones (e.g., 2:1 to 5:1) are preferred.
3. Anchor Text Analysis:
- Check exact and partial match anchors.
- Ensure variation with naked URLs, branded text, and keyword anchors.
- Over-reliance on exact match can signal spammy practices.
4. Link Trends Over Time:
- Steady link growth is ideal.
- Watch for unexplained spikes or plateaus in link acquisition.
5. Backlink Quality:
- Assess metrics like Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA).
- Consider the traffic of the referring site and relevance.
6. Next Steps:
- Address domain-related issues and backlink ratios.
- Diversify anchor texts and monitor link trends.
- Address irrelevant or harmful links.
- Regularly analyze your backlink profile using SEO tools.
- Even if you buy backlinks for SEO, utilize other various strategies like HARO, broken link-building, and outreach for a robust backlink profile.
What Is a Backlink Profile?
A backlink profile entails the totality of inbound links pointing to your website.
Remember: These are external links. If you link between different website pages yourself, those are internal links. So, they don’t count as valuable links to boost your profile.
But here’s the thing:
The word “profile” suggests that you attribute a certain value to different types of links. Therefore, you can have a good or bad link profile.
To judge if a link profile is good or bad, analyze the following variables:
Why do you need a solid backlink profile?
A robust backlink profile means multiple good endorsements, signaling that your content is valuable to search engines like Google. Therefore, you get ranked higher in searches.
Remember: Healthy backlink profiles are one of the primary trust metrics in the eyes of search engine algorithms determining your website’s:
- Search engine ranking potential
And if you rank higher, you obtain more high-quality organic traffic. That’s why any SEO strategy should include a solid link-building strategy.
Side note: reputable link-building agencies in New York or any other city can also help you build editorial links that bring you referral traffic on top of that organic traffic.
What Is a Good Backlink Profile?
Tl;dr: A high-quality backlink profile consists of organic, high-authority, and varied backlinks from high-traffic websites in your topic and niche, with relevant anchor texts.
To ensure a strong backlink profile, you must correctly solve three questions: “What?”, “Who?” and “How?”.
- Organic links: These naturally occurring links are the gold standard in backlinking, demonstrating genuine appreciation or relevance of your high-quality content. Luckily, you can actually buy backlinks like this.
- High-authority backlinks: Backlinks from websites with a high-quality backlink profile, high traffic, and trusted content boost your profile’s strength. Therefore, they benefit your SEO efforts more than those from lesser-known sites.
- Relevance: Building backlinks in relevant websites within your topic or niche is more valuable than those from unrelated sites, even if these have a high domain quality. For example, a SaaS product related to project management should have a link from a top tech review site rather than a food blog.
- Appropriate anchor texts: Anchor texts are the clickable words used to link one page to another. Having relevant and varied anchor texts indicates that the incoming links are natural and contextually appropriate.
- Traffic and engagement: A backlink from a website with substantial, genuine traffic is more valuable than one from a site with minimal or artificial traffic.
Side note: That’s why it’s wise to avoid link farms or Private Blog Networks and focus on white-hat link-building techniques.
- Variety: A mix of different types of backlinks from various sources shows Google’s algorithm that your high-quality content has a broad appeal. And if you’re relevant to more people, Google will rank you higher.
Here’s a good example from Airtable:
What Is a Bad Backlink Profile?
A bad backlink profile is the opposite of what we just saw.
Here’s what to watch out for:
- Low-quality websites: This entails getting backlinks from recently set-up personal blogs with minimal content, vague topics, and no clear focus or authority. Also, websites with many external links carry less link juice than those limiting their mentions to genuinely expert resources.
- Irrelevant backlinks: A good example is a high-end sports equipment e-commerce store that accumulates links from sites focusing on pet care, gardening, or cooking. These are completely unrelated niches and do not provide any contextual relevance to sports equipment.
- Over-optimized anchor texts: Repeating the same anchor in all your guest posts can appear like an attempt to manipulate ranking algorithms. One example is a SaaS company specializing in email marketing that gets most of its backlinks with the exact anchor text “best email marketing software.”
- Rapid acquisition of backlinks: Going from 0 to 5,000 backlinks in a week, especially if not associated with a significant event or viral content, can look suspicious.
- Links from link farms or spammy sites: This can entail backlinks from web directories that list thousands of unrelated websites, have no clear categorization, and exist primarily to sell or exchange links.
- Paid links without disclosure: If you pay several bloggers to link to your eCommerce product page without any “sponsored” tag or without using the “nofollow” attribute, you’re trying to manipulate search engine rankings artificially. And Google can give you a penalty for it.
- Toxic or malicious websites: This can be receiving inbound links from adult content sites or websites flagged for distributing malware. These harmful associations can damage your reputation and trustworthiness.
How to Find Your Backlink Profile
Finding and analyzing your backlink profile helps you understand where your website stands regarding off-site SEO.
Here are some of the best tools to boost your SEO efforts.
You must sign in and fill in your website’s address for all these, so we’ll skip that part.
Google Search Console (GSC)
- Tap on the ’Links’ section on the left sidebar.
- Here, you can review “Top linking sites” and “Top linking texts,” which provide insights into your linking domains and their most common anchor texts.
- Navigate to ’Backlink Analytics’ under the ’Domain Analytics’ section on the left sidebar.
- Dive into the thorough overview of your backlinks, referring domains, anchors, and more. Analyze your backlinks by type, quality, and origin to get a bigger picture.
Pro tip: SEMrush offers a free, limited-search version that looks like this:
- Navigate to ’Backlink Profile’ on the left sidebar and then to ’Backlinks.’
- You’ll see a detailed list of backlinks pointing to your site, plus metrics such as Domain Rating (DR), URL Rating (UR), traffic, and anchor text.
- You can also use Ahrefs to identify broken links.
However, Ahrefs doesn’t give you an authority score for your backlinks like SEMrush.
Here’s what the paid version looks like:
Pro tip: You can also try Ahrefs’ free backlink checker tool for a quick review of your referring pages and anchors and text URLs they’re using.
Moz (Link Explorer)
- After logging in, Moz shows your domain authority, linking domains, inbound links, and ranking keywords.
- The “Inbound Links” section shows you a detailed backlink report, with all the pages linking to your domain, the anchor texts they’re using, and other crucial metrics.
- MajesticSEO greets you with data about your ’Trust Flow,’ ‘Citation Flow,’ and other metrics.
- Go to the ’Backlinks’ tab for detailed information about your backlinks, including source URL, anchor text, and the date first seen.
How to Analyze Your Backlink Profile
So far, you’ve learned that a backlink profile is an important search ranking factor for Google and how to distinguish between good and bad inbound links. You also know where to find that backlink profile.
Now, let’s see how to analyze it.
1. Analyze Your Entire Profile by Referring Domains
Here’s what you should do at this step:
- Domain authority: Categorize your referring domains by domain authority or equivalent metric, such as domain rating or trust flow, depending on your backlink analysis tool. Remember that high-authority domains contribute more to your backlink profile than low-quality sites.
- Relevance: Check if these domains linking to you are relevant to your industry, niche, or content because relevant websites pass more value. Too many irrelevant links might raise a red flag about the quality of your backlink profile.
- Outliers: Look for domains that might seem suspicious due to their low quality, spammy appearance, or being completely out of context. These might be toxic backlinks you’d want to disavow or remove.
- Other metrics: Analyze each domain’s metrics, such as domain traffic, page traffic, and linked domains. The better these stats, the more high-quality links you have. Also, nofollow links are less valuable than dofollow ones.
- Geographic and Top-Level Domains (TLD) Distribution: This refers to the website extension, such as .com, .org, .net, etc., and their geographic distribution. For instance, a red flag is if your website caters exclusively to US audiences but has many referring domains from unrelated countries.
Pro tip: Monitor lost domains to gain insights into your content’s relevance, changes in the industry landscape, or potential technical issues like broken links.
Here’s a quick example from Hurom.com, a brand that mainly retails juice machines and smoothie makers:
All these domains have high DA and good traffic, plus they’re linking to Hurom.com in relevant pieces. On the downside, the brand also lost high-quality links to its product pages, which is a red flag:
2. Check the Backlink to Referring Domain Ratio
This ratio refers to the number of backlinks against the number of referring domains.
- Many backlinks from just a few referring domains: This showcases no link diversity even if you have high-quality backlinks. It can even signal spam links to Google.
- Few backlinks from many websites: You’ve created very few pieces of relevant content or useful tools worth linking to. Therefore, you’re missing opportunities for deep linking from authoritative sites.
There isn’t a universally “perfect” ratio because your industry, website age, and reputation all influence the outcome.
However, many SEO professionals believe a moderate ratio (e.g., 2:1 to 5:1) balances diversity with depth for most websites.
3. Analyze Your Anchor Texts
This is where you can learn a lot about who links to you and how.
First, check for exact match and partial match anchors.
- Exact-match anchors: These are anchor texts that perfectly match your target keywords. For instance, if you’re targeting the keyword “organic dog food,” an exact match anchor would be “organic dog food.”
- Partial-match anchors: These contain your target keyword but have additional words. Using the above example, “best organic dog food brands” would be a partial match.
Also, your anchors need variation, including:
- Naked URLs: The URL itself is included in the text.
- Branded anchor text: Your brand name is the anchor text. For a company named "DogDelight," examples would be “DogDelight” or “Visit DogDelight for more.”
- Keyword anchors: Keywords related to your niche, products, or tools are used as anchor texts. They might not always be an exact or partial match to your primary target keywords, but they are contextually related. For example, “nutritional pet food” or “healthy canine diets.”
Once you’ve classified your anchor texts, assess their distribution. A natural link profile typically has a varied distribution without repeating single anchor text (especially exact match keywords.
Remember: Over-reliance on exact match keywords can signal manipulative link-building practices to search engines.
4. Look Into Links Over Time
Ideally, you want to earn or build fresh links steadily over time. A steady growth of relevant links indicates:
- Ongoing content relevance
- Increasing brand recognition
- Your growing authority in your niche
Here are other scenarios to consider:
- Sudden spikes: A rapid increase in backlinks can be great, especially if you’ve recently launched a new campaign, had high-quality content go viral, or received media coverage. However, an unexplained spike can be a red flag, possibly indicating unnatural link-building practices, like purchasing links.
- Plateaus or dips: If your number of backlinks has stagnated or declined, it could be due to content needing to be updated, increased competition, or loss of significant referring domains. Find the root issue and address it.
5. Analyze Your Backlink Quality
Backlink quality is one of the most important link characteristics.
- Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA): Tools like Ahrefs use the term Domain Rating (DR), while Moz refers to it as Domain Authority (DA). This metric estimates your linking website’s authority based on its backlinks’ number and quality. A higher DR or DA indicates that the site is considered authoritative and reliable in its niche.
- Traffic: A site with massive organic traffic probably produces quality content that resonates with its audience. Backlinks from websites like this can increase your ranking and referral traffic.
Apart from reviewing these metrics, you should manually check for relevance.
Search engines prioritize backlink relevance. If an outbound link doesn’t make contextual sense, it dilutes the link’s value.
So, for each of your backlinks, visit the referring page and assess:
- The overall theme and content of the website.
- The specific context in which your site is mentioned or linked.
- Whether the content is well-written, authoritative, and valuable to its readers.
6. Determine the Next Steps
Based on your analysis, craft effective link-building strategies to improve your situation. Let’s take the five sections above and see what you can do:
- Reach out to high-authority domains to get better link-building opportunities.
- Create link-worthy original content to attract more relevant domains in your niche. Think of industry studies, guest posts, or free tools that serve your potential customers.
- Remove potentially harmful or low-quality links.
Issues with the Backlink-to-Referring-Domain Ratio
- If you have a few incoming backlinks from unique domains, focus on earning links from broader sources.
- If you have few backlinks from multiple domains, generate more valuable content that authoritative sites can link to.
Red Flags with Anchor Texts
If you find an over-reliance on a specific type of anchor text, work on diversifying it by:
- Improving your link-building campaign’s outreach
- Creating varied content
- Guiding future partners and collaborators on how they can link to you
If there are red flags, like potential toxic backlinks:
- Reach out to the referring website for modification or removal.
- Use tools like Google’s Disavow tool if necessary.
Negative Trends with Links-Over-Time
- Review your content marketing and outreach campaigns. Maybe you should refresh old content, amplify outreach, or explore new digital marketing strategies.
- Track significant updates or changes on your website that might affect backlink acquisition, such as website redesigns or content overhauls.
- Look at external factors, like algorithm updates or industry shifts, which could influence your backlink profile.
- Identify patterns among your backlinks to realize the type of content attracting high-quality and poor-quality links.
- Double down on the content or tools that attract desirable backlinks, and stop producing assets that attract negative attention.
- Reach out to webmasters when you want irrelevant links removed, especially if they harm your website’s reputation.
- If removal requests are unsuccessful, use Google’s disavow tool to remove them manually.
If you read so far, you’re now ready to analyze your backlink profile and jot down the modifications you want to implement.
Remember, this will require using a professional SEO tool.
You would also need specific tactics to build a healthy link profile, from HARO to broken link-building or link-building outreach.
If you need help building links that increase your search ranking and traffic, schedule a free strategy call. We’ll show you personalized link-building solutions based on your needs.