Inbound links pointing to your site are taken into consideration as a part of the search engine ranking algorithms. Inbound links are what convey that your site is (or isn’t) a trusted source. As the search algorithms have become more complex, it’s the quality of inbound links that matters as opposed to the quantity.
When getting started with an SEO campaign it’s recommended to conduct a full SEO link audit, which is the process of pulling the inbound link data of your site and of your competitors using an SEO tool like SEOMoz. Once the inbound link reports are generated, you will need to manually visit each link and categorize it. Categories could include article links, press release links, blog/blog comment links, directory links, industry/business profile links, social media links, and more. It’s a time consuming process but well worth it as the insights gained can improve your SEO process.
Here are four reasons to conduct a full link audit:
1. To Get an “Inside Look”
Analyzing your inbound link portfolio is a good way to gauge how the search engines are viewing your site. The type of links pointing to a site are typically in line with the site itself. If the links are good, it makes the site look good by association. If they are bad, it makes the site look bad by association.
2. To Shape a Link Building Strategy
Link building is the ongoing component of an SEO campaign. The purpose is to build links that will improve search engine trust and also generate traffic back to the site. Before you get started with link building it’s good to see what kinds of links you already have so you know what areas need work. If your link portfolio is heavy on industry and local directories it’s necessary to switch gears and focus on other areas since the search engines like to see a well rounded link portfolio. The most important links to achieve today for SEO are content based links because they are more likely to be shared. As content marketing expert Ann Handley said in an interview that we conducted, “SEO and content marketing are BFFs.” If a link audit shows that you are lacking in content, it should be a focus of link building going forward.
3. To Find New Opportunities From Competitors
Once you’ve analyzed your own inbound links and know what areas you need to work on, conduct an audit of your competitors. You might be able to find some great new opportunities that you hadn’t found yet. However, it’s important to remember that just because a competitor has the link it doesn’t mean it’s good or the right fit for you.
4. To Clean Up Your Link Portfolio
There are good links and there are bad links. Over time it’s likely that your site may have some of the “bad” variety, especially since many links that are considered to be bad today weren’t considered to be bad even just a few years ago. If you find that a significant number of your inbound links are in the “bad” category, it’s worthwhile to go through and attempt to remove them.
Image: Looking At Links via Shutterstock