Backlink Analysis: How to Conduct One
By , posted on April 1, 2014
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Whether you’re new to the SEO world or you’ve been in the industry for some time, it’s important that you know how big of an influence backlinks can be. If you fail to build or draw in the best backlinks, your website is going to suffer because of it.

Whether you’re curious about what kind of backlinks your competitor is building or you want to analyze your own, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to perform a thorough analysis:

The Number of Links

The first thing that you’re going to want to look into are the number of backlinks pointing toward the website. Keep in mind that while a number can be high, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be powerful or credible. Poorly built websites are known to build links by buying hundreds of forum posts, blog comments or low-quality blog posts that usually do no good. This, in turn, can artificially inflate the number, making the website seem popular.

To find out the total number of links pointing toward a website, you’re going to want to open up Open Site Explorer and type in the domain. When the page loads, look for the “total links” column. Keep this page open because you’re going to need this report later.

Unique Domains

The next thing that you’re going to want to look at are the number of unique domains pointing toward a website. Unique links are usually a better indicator at how powerful a domain can possibly be. For example, if a website were to have 10,000 links from one unique website, it would show 10,000 total links and one unique domain.

Using Open Site Explorer, take a glance at the “linking root domains” column to see how many unique domains are pointing toward the website. By now, you should have the total number of links and unique websites pointing toward the website you’re analyzing.

Anchor Text Usage

When using the anchor text tab, this is going to show you what this website could be trying to rank for. In the past, a website could develop countless links with “anchor text” and rank; however, things have changed a lot and this strategy no longer works.

Here, a good domain is going to use a variety of anchor text, making it seem natural to search engines. If you realize that one keyword pointing toward your website is higher than 25 to 35 percent, then it may be a good idea to use other keywords to bring that percentage down. On the other hand, if a competitor has a high number of anchor text links, then it’s safe to say they aren’t using strategies that the search engines are going to like.

A good backlink profile will have anchor text that is all over the place. For instance, if you were to open up a popular website, you would notice that most anchor text would be varying words, the domain name or even the brand.

To find out the anchor text usage, there are two ways you can do it: through Open Site Explorer or Majestic. On Open Site Explorer, you’re going to want to click the “anchor text” tab to see percentages, while on Majestic, you’re going to want to insert your domain name and when the report appears, you will click the “anchor text” tab. Usually, it’s ideal to check out both reports to see how the percentages compare.

Fresh Links

A good indicator to see how active a website is, is by checking the most recent links that were acquired. If links haven’t been built in a few months, then it’s safe to say the website is probably inactive; however, if a few fresh links have been scattered throughout the past month, then it’s safe to say the website is still drawing attention.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because a website is drawing in fresh links, it’s not going to mean it’s reputable. The thing that you’re going to want to pay close attention to are the types of links coming in. What kind of links are being acquired? Are they from reputable sources? How reputable are these websites? If you’re unsure how popular these websites are, consider performing a quick backlink analysis using these tips in this guide.

Link Quality

Lastly, the most important part of a backlink analysis is by looking at the link quality. While the numbers mentioned above can give you a good idea what a website is doing, it’s hard to distinguish the credibility if you can’t look at the quality.

Using a backlink checker of your choice, you’re going to want to look at the following when looking at the link quality:

  • How relevant is it?
  • How powerful is the domain linking out?
  • Where is the link placed?
  • What kind of anchor text was used?
  • Does it seem like a paid link?

Using the data mentioned above, it’s going to give you a better understanding on what kind of links are being pointed toward a domain. With this information, you can analyze competitors, improve your own website’s backlinks or even find out what’s causing a penalty, if you were to receive one.

To recap, here’s what you’re going to want to do when analyzing links

  • Check out the total number of links
  • Find out how many unique domains there are
  • Figure out the anchor text percentage
  • Analyze the fresh links coming inResearch the link quality