Backlinks play a significant role in the success of a business website or a blog.
Like every website asset, they need nurturing. Gaining backlinks can be tricky by itself, but that’s only half of the job.
The other half is managing your site’s backlinks.
After reading this post, you’ll know everything you need to know about backlink management.
Why You Should Manage Your Backlinks
If you want your website to get traffic, you can’t afford to neglect backlink management.
Your backlinks are one of the most important things for building your SEO.
This is not an overstatement.
The number of backlinks that your site has will directly affect its ranking in the search results. As you know, one of the deciding factors for ranking is site authority.
Backlinks come as a natural solution because when trusted websites link to your page, it’s a signal to Google that your site has authority. As a result, your website ranking increases.
This makes them crucial SEO assets.
However, you won’t reap those results if you completely ignore backlink management. You can’t improve the results you don’t track.
If you neglect your backlinks, you’ll have no clue who linked to your site or which published content gets you the most backlinks.
The alternative to managing backlinks is publishing content aimlessly, hoping it somehow increases your ranking. That’s wishful thinking, and it has nothing to do with quality SEO work.
If you want your traffic to grow, it’s time you pay attention to the backlinks you’re receiving from your content.
But before we can talk about that, let’s talk about different types of backlinks.
Different Types of Backlinks
Understand that the backlink practices you use will either get you useful or damaging backlinks.
Let’s explain what makes them different from each other.
Useful backlinks deserve your full focus.
We’re talking about backlinks that came organically to your website from an authoritative site. As soon as Google picks upon them, they increase your ranking.
This is what it looks like in practice.
You publish excellent link-worthy content, which could be anything from a comprehensive blog post to a helpful infographic.
Suppose some other niche website uses your content for its blog and links to your site, and you get a backlink out of it.
Your SEO value grows, as well as your ranking.
The practice of collecting useful backlinks this way is also called organic link building.
Best yet, when other sites read their blog and write something similar, they’ll probably use your supporting content and link to it as well.
The larger the site authority you’re receiving a backlink from, the greater the SEO boost.
Do you get it?
Useful backlinks are essential, and you should focus on acquiring as many of them as possible.
Also, we should mention several other subtypes of useful backlinks, so you have the complete picture.
There are also relationship-based backlinks, which are backlinks from websites you frequently collaborate with.
For example, let’s say you frequently work with a niche journalist and she links to your content often. Those backlinks are a result of your relationship with the journalist.
Then, there are guest blog backlinks. When you write a post as a guest on a different website, you can subtly link back to a page on your site and earn a backlink.
However, if you link to something that adds no value to the post you’ve written, you’re spamming a link.
That’s a practice that you should avoid.
This brings us to the second type of backlinks we mentioned before.
Not every backlink is suitable for your SEO, on the contrary.
When you use deceitful methods to earn backlinks, Google can spot them and penalize your site. By deceptive, we mean cheating Google into thinking you made a backlink organically so it would falsely improve your ranking. This approach to link building is counterproductive.
Backlinks have to come from relevant websites.
If you’re spamming a link from a site that’s in a completely different niche, you’re making it evident that the link is there solely to boost your SEO.
This can have negative consequences.
We’re not just talking about dropped rankings, but complete exclusion from Google’s search engine.
Good luck trying to get any visitors to your site then.
One more thing: damaging backlinks have no SEO value. That means you’re risking an awful lot for backlinks that won’t improve your search ranking.
And the traffic you receive from damaging backlinks is never large.
There are no benefits from damaging backlinks.
As with useful links, there are several subtypes of damaging backlinks, besides backlinks from irrelevant websites.
We’re talking about paid backlinks. Yes, web admins used to pay irrelevant websites with high traffic to link their content, thinking it would get them more traffic.
Google’s PageRank algorithm can quickly spot paid links and penalize you for buying them.
We should also mention that you should avoid spamming and linking your content in the comment sections of blogs and forums.
They can easily lead web admins to report you to Google and hurt your website.
Now that you have a full scope of useful and damaging backlinks, it’s time we talk about what you should track in your link profile.
Things to Track in Your Link Profile
For successful link management, monitor these points.
Link Anchor Text
The first thing you should look at is your anchor text.
The anchor text is the text in the hyperlink. After clicking, it will send the visitor to the linked page. It goes without saying that the anchor text is a critical part of link building.
The keywords you use in the anchor text signal to the search engine what the article is about. When you use them properly, they can help increase the ranking of your website for those keywords on Google’s search engine.
Similarly, poor use of anchor text can hurt your website. Examples in this screenshot are not ideal, they are overly promotional and don’t provide much value to the reader.
Anchor text has a tremendous impact on the on-site rating. The anchor text practices you use for hyperlinking can either make or break your SEO.
It’s best to monitor your anchor text to see how well it’s performing. Also, understand which anchor text practices you should keep an eye out for:
First off, avoid anchor text that’s an exact match to the keyword you’re targeting.
For example, if you have an eCommerce site and want it to rank for black shoes, don’t use black shoes as an anchor.
Instead, use some relevant long-tail variation like Men’s fashionable black shoes.
Don’t stuff your anchor text with keywords to rank on all of them.
Avoid spamming anchor text because it will get you penalized. Users don’t take kindly to spamming, and neither does Google.
Lastly, don’t use phrases like “click here” because it appears spammy and has no keyword value. You should aim for a diversified backlink profile, which includes a variety of anchor text phrases.
After you’ve run all your anchor texts through this checklist, it’s time you have a look at referring domains.
Referring Domains Linking to You
The website that links back to your site is a referring domain. How many websites are linking to you can have a significant impact on your website success, but only if they are quality websites.
Quantity doesn’t precede quality when it comes to backlinks. The reason for this is twofold.
As we said before, the referring domains linking to you have to be relevant to your website.
When they are, the backlink signals to Google that you’re an expert and your site rank goes up. If there’s zero relevancy, it appears like you bought a link, and that’s subject to penalty.
Second, the quality of the referring domain matters. Here, we’re talking about authority on the relevant subject.
Backlinks from high-authority websites have a much more significant impact than low-authority websites.
For example, if you wrote an article about SEO, a backlink from HubSpot would boost your ranking much more than a backlink from a website that sells car insurance.
Do you see what we mean?
Not every backlink is worth the same. Their value is derived from the authority of the referring domain.
The more backlinks you have from trusted, high-authority websites, the better your ranking and site authority will be.
Similarly, if your pages have backlinks from irrelevant websites, they’re hurting your site.
As you’re tracking your link profile, analyze the referring domains linking to you.
If you paid a site to link to you in the past, it would be best if you removed that link from your website.
We’ve talked about site authority and relevance, but how about the quality of backlinks?
No-Follow vs. Follow Backlinks Ratio
If you ever used an analytics tool to analyze your link profile, you probably saw something like this:
This is an example of features from our backlink checker tool. As you can see, it shows the ratio between Follow and No-Follow backlinks. Here, there are too many no-follow links.
Ideally, your website should have a majority of do-follow backlinks because only they are passing SEO authority from another website to yours.
Also, a ratio of follow and no-follow backlinks can help you tweak your link-building strategy.
If you are getting a majority of no-follow links, then you should try another approach, guest blog, or try link requests that would result in more do-follow links.
Do-follow backlinks are those that pass SEO authority from one website to another, and they are the ones to pursue.
Follow (or Do-Follow) backlinks are links that allow Google to see where the link you got comes from.
Then, Google can see if it’s a relevant website and strengthen your site authority. When industry blogs and sites link to your blog, Google will notice.
You also have No-Follow backlinks.
Contrary to the former type, they don’t allow Google to track what site backlinks your content. Even if they are high authority sites, Google’s algorithm won’t be able to see that.
That doesn’t mean No-Follow links are worthless; they can still bring high volumes of traffic to your site.
However, they can’t boost your page rankings.
You want to have as many Follow backlinks from relevant sites. If a website linking to your content has no relevance and the link isn’t a No-Follow, it can hurt your site.
The Position of the Link on the Page
If you think the position of a link on a page doesn’t matter, you’re wrong.
Think of it this way, if you had a significant, insightful link you wanted to share with your readers, would you put it in a random spot in the post?
Would you bury it at the bottom? Or would you go for somewhere noticeable?
Well, Google’s algorithms keep track of how you link.
When you position a link in the page footer, Google’s algorithm will assume it’s not that important.
After all, most readers won’t scroll down to the bottom of the page. Because of this, Google can reduce the value of the link.
Now, you may think, what does this have to do with you?
Let’s say over half of the backlinks you got from different websites are positioned on website footers.
To Google’s algorithm, it could appear as if you’re buying links. Or it could indicate you have low-quality links. Either way, your ranking would suffer.
The position of your backlinks is something you should care about.
You want to think about how your link profile appears, so having most of your links from sidebars or footers is not a good idea.
One last thing you should track in your link profile is, of course, the page rank.
PageRank is one of the factors Google uses when deciding on how to rank pages in the search results.
You’re right to think that the higher your PageRank, the better your position.
Nevertheless, since there are over 200 ranking factors on Google, you can’t assume PageRank is the most important one.
However, we can say for sure that it affects your ranking.
And we know that quality link-building improves your PageRank and overall ranking.
Whichever way you feel about it, since you’re already doing practices that benefit PageRank, it makes sense to track PageRank of websites linking to you.
Keep in mind that many SEO tools have their versions of numerical values that approximate the PageRank score.
They’re often called Page Ranks or Authority Scores.
Google doesn’t confirm any of them as proxies to PageRank, but they’re still helpful metrics to consider. So whichever tool you’re using to analyze your backlink profile, keep an eye out for a Page Rank score.
Not to worry, we’ll talk more about tools for backlink management later in this article.
But before we get to that, we have one expert tip to share.
Pro Tip: Know How Long It Takes for Backlinks to Get Indexed in Search Engines
If you’re wondering how long it takes for backlinks to show up in search engines, the answer is around three days.
But this doesn’t mean they will affect your rank on Google as soon. It takes an average of 10 weeks for Google to increase your rank, thanks to a backlink.
However, if you receive a couple of backlinks for the same page at once, your page rank will grow quicker.
For instance, if you’re tracking your new backlinks, you can count that it’s going to take up to 10 weeks to see the results of your backlink efforts.
Tools to Manage Your Backlinks
Now it’s time we discuss some fantastic tools that will help you manage your backlinks.
Here are our top recommendations for your site.
Google Search Console
We can’t talk about backlink tools without starting with Google Search Console.
This tool is essential for many reasons. You can check how many clicks each page got, how it ranks, how many links it has, and much more.
Below you can see an overview of Google Search Console’s links option.
This overview gives users a glance at pages with the most external links, top linking sites, and which pages got the most links internally.
Moreover, you can export all external links to a Google Spreadsheet and choose between more sample links or the newest links.
Since backlinks and referring domains are not the same, the most useful feature here is the ability to see how many referring domains a certain page on your website has.
If you click on the “top linked pages” under the External Links category, you will see the number of backlinks as well as the number of referring domains for each page.
Of course, you can then check each page individually and see which websites are linking to it.
Overall, Google Search Console is one relatively simple way to analyze your website’s backlinks and referring domains. The platform is intuitive and easy to use.
Every site owner with a Google account should give Google Analytics a chance.
It’s free to use, so there’s no point ignoring its many valuable features. This tool gives you a wealth of performance metrics, enabling you to manage your backlinks better than before.
For example, you can look at how many sessions and new users other websites drive to your site because of the backlinks.
The most critical data pool you get for managing backlinks is your referral report.
You can view it by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.
In this report, the “source” column shows you a list of sites that referred or sent traffic to your website and in what percentage.
On the right side of the screen, you also have different presentation options and you can view the information as pie charts, tables, or other types of visual charts.
Then, if you click on the “landing page” option, you’ll see exactly on which pages those visitors landed.
Here you get also other valuable insights for each landing page, such as:
- Average session duration
- The percentage of new visitors
- New users
- Bounce rate
You’re not just seeing how much total traffic the backlinks are bringing to your site but also how new users engage with your content on-site.
You don’t want new users to come to your website and bounce; you want them to engage with your content and blog posts.
Ideally, when they click on a backlink and go to your page, that’s only the beginning of your interaction.
Since we’re aware of the impact of keywords on backlink success, we have to mention the next tool.
Our backlink checker tool is like a Swiss knife for backlink management.
First, you can analyze backlinks of your competitors, not just your own. By doing that, you’ll have a competitive advantage.
First, you will know which pages drive the most referral traffic to them.
Second, your team can analyze where they are getting backlinks from and what keywords they are using as anchor text. In fact, you get a complete backlink profile overview.
Finally, you can do a full audit of your SEO. The SERPtimizer tool enables you to do manual or automatic site crawling at fixed intervals.
By doing this, you’ll get a report that identifies all the errors in your site SEO.
Let us show you how SERPtimizer works. When you check a website with the backlink checker tool, you get a backlinks overview like in the image below:
In this overview, you see a total number of backlinks and the number of referring domains for the analyzed website.
There is also an option to analyze each linking page or to see a list of linking pages with highlighted anchor texts, as shown in the example below.
Then, you have a quick view of total new and lost backlinks.
These insights are valuable because they can indicate problems down the road. For example, if your website is suddenly losing a lot of backlinks, it can mean they were low quality and the websites linking to you were shut down.
Our tool shows you the reasons why you lost that backlink.
Last but not least, in this backlink overview, you have a list of top anchor texts and top linked pages, so you can better understand which pages on your website are most valuable to others and most referenced.
There are many different backlink analysis tools, but most of them enable you to successfully build an extensive backlink catalog for your blog or website.
At the beginning of this post, we promised to explain the ins and outs of backlink management.
Now you understand them too.
Building backlinks takes time, knowledge, and the right tools for the job.
Your site will get there as long as you stick to our advice and upgrade your digital toolbox with the assets we recommended.
Until our next post!