Link building strategies are an important component of any online marketing or SEO effort, and the first step to getting off on the right foot when you start participating in intentional link building is to conduct a link audit. A link audit is basically a thorough going-over of all of the links you currently have built, whether they were intentional or not, so you have a clear picture of what you currently have to work with, and can therefore measure your progress in future and make better, more calculated decisions.
How to Perform a Link Audit for SEO
If you’ve had your site up for any period of time, you’re bound to have built a few links without even trying (that’d be the unintentional link building part, since you didn’t set out to gain any of these links on purpose). Unintentional links are usually something like someone else linking to a blog post of yours they thought was interesting, or a review someone did of one of your products, that links back to that product’s page on your site – something along those lines. So before you start any intentional link building activities, you need to take stock of what you’ve already got.
Google has a great free tool you can use to conduct your link audits, and you’ll find it in the Google Webmaster Tools. The Google Webmaster Tools are designed to give you a way to see how well your website is doing from various angles, and one of its features is an in-depth and detailed list of all of the links coming to your site or blog from other sites and blogs.
After you have your list from the Google tool, you need to sit down and go through absolutely every link that comes to your site from somewhere else. All of them. Depending on how long your site has been up and what random link building activities you’ve done before, you probably won’t have a huge list at first – and that’s okay, because this first audit is your baseline for now, and you have nowhere to go but up. Still – you must check every single link. Look to see what kind of link it is – do you tend to get more links to products, or blog posts, for example? And then you need to determine whether or not the link in question is a quality link, or one that could potentially harm your SEO efforts (links from link farms, pornography, gambling sites, illegal prescription drug sites, etc – like obscenity, you’ll know them when you see them – they’re easy to spot out). If you find bad links like those, then you’ll need to individually go through and try to get them taken down.
After you have your baseline list of links, you can save it and use it to compare after you begin actively link building, and you’ll want to run a new link audit at least once a year to update where you stand. Your link audits will allow you to easily see where your linking efforts are doing the most good, and where you need to work harder to build up. The ideal is to have incoming links from a variety of different sources – blog posts, product reviews, directories, articles, videos, news stories and press releases, etc. The more diverse you are, the better the search engines like you – and that’s just good SEO.