Most link audits come about after realization of your decrease in traffic relating directly to shrinking conversions.
Like most things in life, action comes out of necessity. The truth of the matter is easy to swallow when your conversion rate drops while you watch competitors rake in the dough.
Auditing a link profile is much more than backlinks and referring domains. If you only scratch the surface, the result will be tragic. There are numerous metrics to account for when researching the reason for declining traffic and unnatural link warnings.
Diagnosing Your Sick and Twisted Link Profile
The first consideration is method of diagnosis.
When you go to a doctor because you aren't feeling well, does the doctor ask questions and then send you on your way with a prescription? If so, get a second opinion.
A good doctor will utilize the tools at his or her disposal to diagnose and treat the illness. Think of your link profile as a sick human and consult a professional to care for the website foundation.
Best Link Profile Audit Tools
I can't say enough about Link Research Tools and Chris Cemper. The dedication put forth to build and maintain such a wicked toolset is amazing; kudos to Chris and his team as well as many thanks for delivering data by the truckloads.
Recognize the Good Links
There are many different ways to skin this cat but the end result is the same.
You may start with recognizing the quality links with the Link Research Tools QBL if you so choose to do so. Check the:
- Anchor text (matching this metric to keywords you are probably losing traffic is always useful)
- Link status (follow or nofollow)
- Link type (image, text)
- Deep link ratio (index page, interior page, or deep link)
- TLD (com, net, org, info or some obscure and strange one you may have never heard of like ws)
- Class C
Comparing Link Profiles
Take a look at how your website compares to your competitors for a specific keyword (such as one you are seeing a decline in traffic). Top metrics to notice are IP, Class C, and referring domains.
Word to the wise: the number of referring domains is often overlooked and should be taken into consideration on many levels. It's better to have thousands of referring domains yielding a few links each as opposed to having hundreds of referring domains yielding many links each.
Knee Deep in Dirty Links
Take a gander at the total number of historical links (Majestic SEO) for the same keyword you used to compare and contrast competitors. Take notice of the backlink discovery and referring domains for the previous two years.
Now that you have your surface data, getting into the details is where it’s at. Pull a historical backlink report for your domain in Majestic. Also valuable: taking notice of the backlinks you have lost.
Go back to your list of keywords declining in traffic and locate them on the anchor text list from Majestic. You'll notice a pattern starting to form in regard to the percentage of certain anchor text and where the anchor text is found on the web linking to your website.
Now it's time to get dirty and process the toxic link list. Yes, you guessed it, Link Research Tools time again.
Click that detox icon and wait it out. Depending on the number of links pointing to your site, this may take many hours.
Detox a link profile with nearly 2 million links and you'll be waiting a few hours for that report. If you only have a few thousand or tens of thousands, you'll be good to go in 20-30 minutes.
When the report is complete you will probably notice that the links on the list are from domains that have been deindexed by Google. There is a high probability that all of those links are garbage and you don't want backlinks from those sites.
The Link Detox Report is a bit tricky if you're a first time user as the list won't show all bad links from the same domain. You will have to cross reference these links with the historic backlink list to get the total number of bad links per domain. For example, one of my experiences using the tool was seeing five toxic links in the report and finding a total of 39,000 bad links from one domain in particular.
You may also see the suspicious links as well in Link Research Tools. The links designated as SUSP 7 and 9 are the ones you may want to investigate further as these are many times found to be link farms (and Google doesn't look kindly on link farms or networks).
An article such as this could go on and on, but if you would like to know more about the dirty details regarding what to do next and the disavow tool, leave a comment about which link audit topic you want to learn more about. After successfully detoxing your link profile, try some new link building.