What Is A Backlink Audit?
A Backlink Audit is an in-depth and objective analysis of your website’s backlink profile.
Your next question might obviously be, “What’s A Backlink Profile?”
Basically a backlink profile refers to all of the links from 3rd party websites to your website.
For example, if the Wikipdedia page for “Awesome” links to a page on your site about you, that is considered a backlink.
A Backlink Audit consists of a set of documents that provide the following:
- Breakdown of issues with your current backlink profile.
- A process to implement solutions to those issues to get your backlink profile cleaned up and in top shape.
When performing a Backlink Audit, we look at the following:
- Manual Actions (aka Google “Penalties”)
- Link Count
- Link Diversity
- Link Anchors
- Link Velocity
- Link Loss
- Link Spam
- Linked Content Quality
- Trust/Authority Signals
- Competitor Links
- Disavow Options
Why Do You Need A Backlink Audit?
To ensure you are receiving relevant traffic from your links, that your website can perform its best in organic search, and to avoid any potential negative impact from poor backlinking.
Backlinks are by far the most murky, confusing part of SEO and digital marketing in general. In fact, backlink building is one of the most costly parts of an SEO campaign, so you want to make sure that any links built to your site are up to snuff.
Unfortunately, marketers ruin everything (We should know; we’re marketers!), and over the years plenty of shortcuts to building links were invented. Most of them were horrible and resulted in nothing but a junked up interweb. Some of the wonderful shortcuts included:
- Link buying for SEO purposes only (to improve rankings)
- Sitewide linking (links from a footer so you have 1,000 links from a single domain)
- Heavily-targeted anchor text links (100 links with “best san diego plumber” as the link text)
…And generally every other unnatural-looking type of link you can think of.
The Wonderful World of Google Penalties
All of those wonderful “link building” tactics led to the launch of Google’s Penguin update on April 24, 2012 (more from Google here). This was an update to their algorithm that sought to identify sites with low-quality, spammy, and unnatural backlinks. Basically, it was Google slapping you across your unnatural link building face and making your organic search traffic disappear as punishment.
This is where a Backlink Audit can help.
Have You Received A Manual or Algorithmic Action From Google?
A Manual Action means a human reviewer at Google has found evidence of unnatural links to your site and wants you to correct it before any major rankings/traffic loss occurs. An Algorithmic Action means the algorithm itself has detected issues with unnatural links to your site and has already discounted those links (possibly resulting in some kind of traffic/rankings loss).
Either way, steps need to be taken to clean up your website’s backlink profile.
Some telltale signs of a penalty being placed against your site for unnatural backlinks:
- Substantial organic traffic loss (sudden or gradual)
- Loss of organic keyword rankings.
- Receiving a message from Google in your Google Search Console regarding unnatural links.
Our Backlink Audits will help identify issues with your profile and help you determine the best route to get out of the penalty box.
How Does A Backlink Audit Work?
You get two important deliverables with your Backlink Audit: The Audit Findings Document, Recovery Plan, and consulting time. A bit more on each below.
1. The Audit Findings Document
The actual audit findings are presented to you in a PDF document that provides the following information for each data point we audit:
- Explanation of the area analyzed (What the heck are we auditing and why is it important?)
- Issues found
- Examples of issues from your backlink profile
- Recommended solutions
2. The Recovery Plan
Along with the findings document is the Recovery Plan. This document guides our included recovery consulting time (4 hours). The plan contains steps for achieving a full recovery from a Google Action, which typically includes the following:
- Breakdown of links we are targeting for removal.
- Outreach plan to get those website owners to remove offending links from their site.
- Reconsideration Request creation and submission to Google.
- Final disavowal list (if needed) for use with Google’s Link Disavowal Tool.
3. Recovery Consulting
Should you decide to move forward with us on the Recovery Plan, Brian can be available for ongoing consulting to help with implementation of our recommendations. With his background in link building and backlink cleanup, and his team management and training experience, we are well-equipped to help with the total process.
How Long Does A Backlink Audit Take?
It depends on the number of backlinks. A typical audit of up to 20k backlinks will take me about 2 weeks. More than 20k backlinks will take 3-4 weeks maximum. Of course, the less links to audit, the faster I should be able to complete the audit.