By Ryan Knighton
Most SEO’s will be familiar with the tedious process required when a site is due for an in-depth backlink audit. Going through the reams and reams of backlinks, and weeding out the ones that are damaging your site can take a sizeable chunk out of your day and it can be very tedious. But are these audits obsolete methods of SEO or are they still relevant?
When Google rolled out Penguin 4.0, they introduced a change as to how bad links were dealt with. Whereas previously Google punished the receiving site for the bad link, they now devalue the link itself. However, this only applies if Google recognises the link as bad or spammy.
The answer will depend on who you ask. We personally think, that for the time being it’s still worth keeping a watchful eye over your backlink profile. Not only does it ensure that you know where your links are and the overall quality of your profile, but it can also help you build more links in the future. Additionally, with Google’s history of reverting back to old methods (the increase in meta description length and then rapid backtrack being one example), it’s good practice that prevents your scrambling around in a panic if the decision is reverted.
For those new to the SEO world, a link audit is the process of discovering, evaluating and either removing or leaving links to your website. There are many reasons for doing them, and they do have their benefits, a few of which we have mentioned above.
This answer can vary between sites. Some might only need to audit links once every few months, whereas others may need to be more vigilant with audits every other week. The size of your website and how many linkable assets you have can all affect how often you should re-audit. If you have a link building strategy, include how often you want to audit within and stick to it – it can become a long and arduous task.
There are various tools available for finding links that point to your site, some are paid and some are free but they all have the same foundations. Some of the bigger tools have additional features, like prospecting for new potential opportunities if you want to make your life easier. SEMRush, Moz & Ahrefs are 3 of the biggest names in backlinks. All of these do have paid options, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. However, whichever you go for is down to your personal preferences and what you want to get out of the tool. But, you can never go wrong with simply looking at your Search Console.
As far as search engines are concerned there are certain factors you need to be looking for in a backlink. Search engines will be looking at things like the domains authority, and whether it has existed for a while and has a good amount of links itself, and the link’s relevance to your site. This can include the anchor text, the content itself and the position of the link on the page.
Whilst Google is saying they can just ignore the bad links, it’s still worth auditing your links manually and fine-tuning your backlink profile every now and then. With loads of tools available and the added benefit of discovering new and similar opportunities for links to build your profile.