It's important that you understand what the links going back to your site look like. We call this your backlink profile, and it helps you decide what kind of links to go after, where to get them from and what anchor text to use. This article is a step by step guide to using the Link Builder tool to find this information, and make the informed decisions your business needs.
- Uncover your backlink profile.
- Understand how high value your backlinks are.
- Find out exactly which powerful sites link to you.
- Discover if you have a damagingly low value link profile.
- Find which potentially damaging sites are linking to you.
- Understand the ratio of high to low value links.
- Find out how to easily check your and your competitors' anchor text profiles.
- See which terms are most commonly used to link to you.
- Find out if your backlink profile is damagingly over-optimized.
- See how frequently your keywords are used to link to you.
If you don’t have a Link Builder account you can sign up for a free trial here
Then start a new campaign and you’re away. Go to the 'Analysis' tab once you've started your campaign.
In the Analysis tab, you'll see that we've already looked at your site's backlinks, and collated all the data. Here are what the links for Wordtracker look like:
First thing to do is identify where the best links are coming from, so you know what kind of sites you can target for more links. Doing this is pretty easy. Just hit the header of the 'Trust Flow' column to sort by it: you’ll need to hit it twice to get the highest value links to the top:
Trust Flow is a measure of how authoritative a site is. It's based on how authoritative the sites which link to it are. Looking at this I can immediately see who the most important people linking to me are, and why they have linked to me. That’s a pretty good start for less than five minutes work.
You can gain a bit more of an understanding of what your backlink profile looks like as a whole by opening up the filter and using the less/more than function to show you how many high value prospects you have:
Looking at the far right column you can see I’ve drawn the line at pages with a Trust Flow of lower than 50 for this, but you may want to make a different call depending on your backlink profile. Remember, the higher value your site and the bigger your backlink profile, the higher you want to make this number. Now I can quickly see that of the 35,000 odd links we have a couple of hundred which are quite high value.
The people you don’t want linking to you can be as important as those who do. Too many low value links can cause your backlink profile to lose value as a whole and can directly impact on your presence in the rankings.
Finding lower value links is similar to finding those of higher value; first, hit the 'Link URL Trust Flow' column header to sort by that value in ascending order. Don’t forget to clear the filter first though:
I can now see the lower value links which point to Wordtracker. This gives me some instant insight into the sorts of low quality links we've acquired over the years. What would be useful is knowing how many of these I have to deal with:
I’ve filtered by those pages with a Trust Flow of less than 10. It’s a pretty arbitrary number but it gives me a good feel for what percentage of our links are from low value pages. In this case it’s 300 of 35,000 so less than 1%. The higher that percentage, the more high authority links you'll need to balance them out. You want the lowest possible percentage of your overall links to be from low quality sources.
Some webmasters advocate techniques such as link removal requests (asking webmasters to remove the links) and trying to remove the pages which lots of the low quality links point to. If you have a lot of low value links from a handful of sites then you may want to look at contacting them to ask if they might remove them, or alternatively 'nofollow' the links. Similarly, if a specific page or area of your site which provides no SEO value has picked up a lot of low quality links (for instance a terms and conditions page) then you could look at moving the page to a new URL or blocking it via robots.txt
Both Google and Bing have a 'disavow links' tool as part of their respective webmaster tools sets. I would strongly recommend using these to disassociate your site with links you would rather not have gained. A guide for Google and Bing can be found here
I would also focus on gaining new high value links to counterbalance low value ones. The more authoritative links your site gains the more baggage from the low value links it can handle. Remember it’s the ratio between the two that is important, not the specific numbers.
Anchor text is the text used within a link that you can read on the page. If this isn’t familiar to you read this article about backlink anchor text before you go any further.
Keyword rich links are great and something we’ve talked about a lot. However, you can overdo it. Using too many anchor text links tells Google that your backlink profile is likely to be artificial and this can mean you get less or no value from those links. It can also mean getting penalized on a bigger scale, getting penalties and even bans from Google.
So let’s start off by finding out what the anchor text for your site looks like. Hit the 'Report' tab and then click on the 'Anchor Text' link:
Use the dropdown menu to select your own domain. We show anchor text for all the source domains we use to build the campaign, but start by looking at your own.
The next thing to do is to click the column header labelled 'Percentage %'. You will need to click this twice to order the table by descending percentage values:
Now you can see which are the most popular terms used to link to you. The first few of these should all be brand terms or your URL. If you are seeing non-brand terms as your most popular terms then you may be in trouble with an over-optimized backlink profile.
You can quickly find out how you are performing on your key terms using the search box. One of Wordtracker’s main keywords is keyword research. Entering this will show how many links use the term as anchor text and all the different links which contain it. You can also adjust the number of entries shown on the page to see more data at once:
Remember, if any of your non-brand keywords are used more frequently than your brand terms in your links you have over-optimized your anchor text.
So we now know there are three vital steps to understanding your back link profile:
Step 1: Find the high value links
Step 2: Find the low value links
Step 3: Understand your anchor text
Using Link Builder you can quickly and easily complete these three tasks. Remember that it's not the numbers on their own that are important but looking at these in relation to each other. You should then be able to confidently talk about your backlink profile, using this to make better decisions and create more realistic expectations of what can be achieved.
Try Link Builder
If you don't already have an account with Link Builder, the best way to get started is to create a campaign get stuck in. You can sign up for a free 7-day Link Builder trial here Or existing users can login here
If you’ve questions about how the tool works, or feedback on any of its features, simply let us know below:
About Owen Powis
Owen Powis is the lead SEO Consultant at Wordtracker and has a half decade of experience working as an SEO Consultant. That time has been spent working at some of the UK's largest agencies dealing with clients ranging from SMEs to large blue chip organizations. He can be found @owenfantastic on Twitter and also runs his own online SEO training courses.