The search landscape is more competitive than ever before, with the pandemic heightening the need for a strong online presence. It’s reported that Google has over 200 ranking factors, with backlinks being a huge influence, and arguably one of the most important factors. A relevant and authoritative backlink to a website is, in its simplest form, a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes. A website’s link profile accounts for the vast majority of a site’s ranking according to Google’s algorithm.
It is vital that a website’s backlink profile is natural, and has a variety of links from various domains with diverse anchor text. There is so much to consider when analysing a backlink profile, including follow vs nofollow, anchor text, link location, freshness, relevancy and much, much more.
In this post, I’ll take you through the important factors to note when striving for a healthy link profile and how you can ensure you are seen favourably in Google’s eyes in 2022.
There are several platforms or tools you can use, and many offer free trials. There’s Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, Link Research Tools, and more. Each of these has slightly different capabilities, but all provide backlink analysis and insights. My favourite tool for backlinks is Ahrefs, as I find this to have the most comprehensive results, and is known to have the best link data in the industry. Ahref’s link intersect and domain comparison insights are useful when looking to gain an edge over your competitors. It shows you domains that link to competitors but not you, so you can incorporate these insights into your digital PR strategy to close the gap.
When inputting a website URL into Ahrefs, you’ll get a ton of data. With time, you will understand how to navigate and what to look out for, but initially, to get a quick idea of how your site is performing, focus on these metrics:
Domain rating is a method used to understand how authoritative a site can be perceived by search engines. It is a score out of 100, and a logarithmic scale, so the higher your site is the harder it is to improve. This is a great overarching metric to monitor and strive to improve, as it helps you to understand your relative competitiveness.
The total number of links pointing to your site is important to note. If this number is low, it may be the reason why your page isn’t ranking well. You should benchmark your total links against competitors.
Referring domains is the total number of actual websites that are pointing to your site. Some websites will link to you multiple times, but this is one referring domain. Increasing your number of referring domains is a common strategic goal in digital PR, as there is a positive correlation between the number of unique referring domains and the amount of search traffic a website receives.
Websites will naturally acquire links, but it’s important for a site to continually earn links from new domains, and you’ll want your number of referring domains to be on an upward trend.
This is important and certain anchor text can help keyword search terms. Google wants to see anchor text that displays diversity. There are a few different types of anchor text, and it’s healthy to have a mixture of all. Here are the different anchor texts you might notice:
The easiest to acquire is branded anchor text, which includes any link that is a brand name such as Semetrical. You can also have exact match anchor text, which refers to the words in the links (anchor text), exactly matching the keywords you’re trying to rank for; like digital PR linking to Semetrical’s digital PR service page. The anchor text should always be relevant and natural.
I wouldn’t try to manipulate anchor text in links too much, but as long you have a backlink profile that includes a variety of anchor text links, you will look natural and therefore, help you rank.
When your website gets a new inbound link, your site gets a small SEO boost – a vote of confidence like discussed. However, there are different types of links. Follow links pass equity (or link juice as I like to call it), whereas ‘nofollow’ links do not.
The ‘nofollow’ link tag tells search engines not to follow the outbound link or provide that link juice to the linked website. Essentially telling the search engine it’s not a vote of confidence. It’s worth noting that Google expects ‘nofollow’ links, and will consider them when determining whether a link profile is natural.
But, SEO is such a fast-paced industry. Google’s webmaster guidelines were updated in 2020, and they now treat the ‘nofollow’ attribute as a hint for indexing, therefore telling us that it does hold some weight and is still valuable.
Google expects to see links from low rated domains, as these will appear over time naturally. But they shouldn’t be targeted unless they’re local, niche or super relevant. Backlinks from high authority sites will make the most difference, and these should be at the forefront of link building campaigns.
You should strive to earn links from all types of domains, whether that’s .com, .org, .edu (or .ac in the UK) etc. As this tells Google your backlink profile is balanced and varied. If you can acquire .edu or .ac domains then they’re really valuable and authoritative.
For link diversity, you need to acquire backlinks from numerous domains and link them to various locations on the website.
Your most linked page is likely the homepage, but a good link profile will display lots of linked pages.
As time goes on, the value or benefit of a link tends to decline. Nothing too major to note, other than just keep up your link building activity. You want to consistently build links at all times.
Although your goal is to make your link profile as diverse as possible, this doesn’t mean that you should be building links from any random website. If a website isn’t related or relevant to your website, you shouldn’t want a link to it.
Paid links are spammy and against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Every business that wants to be successful online should follow a process or strategy and know exactly what it is you want from every backlink. But please remember that any links you acquire need to be natural and relevant. The three important metrics when evaluating any link-building activity are quantity, quality, and relevancy.
For more information on how digital PR and inbound marketing services can help raise your online visibility, please contact us. We’d be happy to discuss opportunities to improve your backlink profile.