This post is part of a series of three posts, inspired by Beginners Guide to Link Building, a comprehensive resource from MOZ – highly recommended for anyone who wants to build links the right way.
Part 1 of this series provided a brief history of links, how Google’s view of links has changed over time, and the importance of cultivating a robust backlink profile to rank well in search results.
This post – installment two of three – will focus on common backlink issues (broken links, no anchor text, lost links), how to find and fix link problems, and the best tools for the job.
Taking Stock of Your Incoming Link Profile
You can gauge the popularity of a given Tweet by checking on retweets, while Time on Page may give you some indication of reader engagement with your website content. Both metrics provide insight into content performance, but perhaps a more definitive indicator of success is the number of backlinks generated by your new content.
Backlinks can provide visibility into the value of your content to others within your industry. When a website links to your content, that’s a vote of confidence. Your organization is being recognized as: Expert, Authoritative, and Trusted – a resource capable of producing valuable content that solves a problem or meets a need of the linking website’s audience. Google pays attention to your E-A-T factor because it’s one of the metrics that makes up Google’s Content Quality Score. So, this means that backlinks provide Google with another way to judge the value of your content to others.
There are many tools you can use to gain valuable information about your current backlink profile. Look for tools that allow you to see who is linking to you, when the link was created, the link’s associated anchor text, and if / when you’ve lost valuable links. MOZ Link Explorer (formerly Open Site Explorer), SpyFu’s Backlinks feature, and MAJESTIC Site Explorer are all good choices if you’re just getting started and want to compare tools.
Figuring Out What’s Broken and How To Fix Broken Links
Broken links can provide a disappointing user experience and may cause Google to lose confidence in the health of your website if it becomes an ongoing issue. A handy tool from Screaming Frog makes it easy to identify issues and fix any problems.
The tool is available on both the free and paid version of Screaming Frog (the main downside of the free version is the URL limitation – it will only allow you to crawl up to 500 URLs). You’ll need to download the tool before you can take advantage of the broken link checker.
Improve Existing Links
Anchor text, the visible text associated with a hyperlink, should signal to a visitor what they can expect to find when they click through to that link. It’s clearly much easier to control the anchor text on your own website than on websites that are linking to you, but a quick check of anchor text associated with incoming links can alert you to anchor text that is either missing, unclear, incorrect, or misleading. This analysis will both indicate updates you need to make on your own site and allow you to reach out to the external website to request a change.
What Marketers Need to Know About Backlinking
All aspects of SEO require ongoing monitoring and maintenance, and your backlink profile is another one of those elements – in this case, it deserves at least a quick look once a month, especially if you make frequent changes or updates to your website. Take some time to explore the tools mentioned in this post to find one that works for you.
Once you have a good backlink benchmark in place, you can focus on growing your backlink profile. Not sure how to tackle that yet? Stay tuned – we’ll cover outreach efforts and digital PR using links in the final post in this series.
Info + Photo Source: Beginners Guide to Link Building (MOZ)