Maintaining a healthy link profile is necessary for any website owner. Most people focus on gaining new inbound links, whether building them manually or using Link Building Services. But the quality of your existing backlinks matters a lot if you want to improve your overall SEO strategy or mitigate the risks of getting penalized by Google.
Flooding your website with toxic links is a popular black hat SEO tactic that some dishonest competitors might use. Your link profile may also suffer from poor optimization or mistakes made by unqualified SEO agencies and inexperienced freelancers. In any case, if you don’t analyze your backlink profile regularly, you are bleeding traffic and money.
Good vs. Bad Link Profile
What is a link profile? In short, it represents all the links pointing at your website plus their characteristics and how they were acquired.
When creating a profile using a spreadsheet or a specific tool, you should include:
- the total number of links,
- their anchor texts (and types of anchors),
- the quality/health/authority of your links,
- how you got these links (paid, organic, etc).
Generally, the more links you have, the better, but quality trumps quantity any time. Having a few links that pass trust from high-authority websites is preferable to hundreds of low-quality backlinks. If you don’t have at least a couple of high-quality links in your profile, think about ways of acquiring them. Buying a ton of cheap links can give your website an initial traffic boost. But make no mistake, you will get penalized in the long run.
Well-written anchor texts help search engine crawlers match user intent to search results. Having exact match anchors helps to increase your website visibility in the search rankings. But don’t overdo them. Google doesn’t like keyword spamming in anchors. You should have a natural mix of exact and partial match anchors, plus branded, naked (the link itself) and generic (“click here,” “read more”) anchor texts. Having more branded anchors is OK in general.
Before you decide to buy paid backlinks, take a look at Google link quality guidelines. In short, if the search engine catches you buying links that pass PageRank, you risk getting on the bad side of Google. It can happen automatically, as Google always improves and fine-tunes its algorithms, or somebody will report your site. Since most webmasters use paid links anyway, you should be concerned with making them look as natural as possible. Your end goal should be to help the users. Create unique, high-quality content and acquire some natural links first. Use paid links as a supplement to your organic growth and avoid gaming the search engine. If you receive hundreds of backlinks in a short amount of time, you will be flagged for suspicious behavior.
How To Perform a Link Profile Analysis
SEO experts advise using several link analysis tools to find all the inbound links and get a better insight into your profile. Especially, if your website is old and has a large backlink database. Most of these tools will also assess the quality and relevance of the links (bad links will be shown in red).
If you want to perform a link analysis manually, open a spreadsheet and combine backlinks gathered from 3 to 5 sources. You will want to cast as wide a net as possible at first. Then you should remove the duplicates. A great tool to analyze inbound links is the Google Search Console. It will show you all the backlinks to your site that Google currently knows about. You should supplement it with third-party tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Majestic, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer. They will help you see the quality of your links, perform a website audit, remove toxic links, and even set alerts for negative SEO attacks that some of your competitors might try.
Mark all your links in your spreadsheet according to their type (press-release, forum, private blog network, etc) and quality (spam, high-authority). See if they violate the guidelines.
How To Optimize Your Link Profile
After you do a thorough link analysis, you will discover the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. If you get hit by a manual penalty or algorithmic devaluation, remove all the toxic links. The link profile analysis will show whether your whole site is under devaluation or it’s just a few pages or folders.
A healthy link profile contains:
- links from diverse sources (forums, social media, blogs, etc),
- links that are acquired organically,
- anchor texts that are relevant to both donor and target sites,
- high-authority dofollow and nofollow backlinks,
- links that match the user intent,
- as few as possible site-wide links from low-trust sources,
- no spam links.
It’s important to perform link analysis at least once every 6 months. Make sure that your profile looks natural, and strive to earn high-quality backlinks in the future.