Backlinks. Inbound links. Whatever you call them, we all know they’re a critical component of search engine optimization. Many SEO experts agree that link analysis is the foundation of a link-building campaign. Once you have a plan and equip yourself with the right tools you’ll be able to get your inbound links jumping in no time.
So, what should you do if you don’t have that much experience dealing with backlinks? You should focus on these three tactics that provide the biggest bang for your buck:
Step 1: Analyze Your Backlinks
The first tactic is to uncover all the sites currently linking to your site. If you aren’t sure how to analyze your link profile, or link portfolio, read this article.
Search engines pay attention to inbound links because backlinks are an indicator of a site’s relevance and popularity. So, when it comes to looking at your inbound links, you should be concerned about:
- Quality and quantity
- Your link neighborhood
- Anchor text usage and variance
One way you can optimize your website is to compare individual pages of your own website to see which have the most inbound links. Those pages likely have quality, keyword-rich content on a specific topic. Once you know which pages are attracting traffic and backlinks, you can optimize the pages to make them even more attractive. Make sure you have a good mix of your brand name and keywords for your anchor text.
Another tactic? Audit your content to see what is being linked to. That way, you can optimize that content to get even more links. When you develop link-worthy content, you’re making it easy for other sites to link to you.
You also want to make sure that you’re not linking to any broken links or spammy websites.
The next step on your journey to mastering the basics of backlinks involves a bit of detective work.
Step 2: Analyze Your Competitors’ Backlinks
We can still learn from Sun Tzu, even though we’re discussing the art of SEO.
You have to know your enemy.
If your competition is dominating the SERPs, do some digging to figure out why and how. That’s one way to identify opportunities for your own link-building strategy.
Link building is a bit science and a bit art. All SEO pros have their favorite tools. Here are some interesting tools that might help you conduct your link-building intelligence on your competition:
The SEMrush Backlinks Comparison Report will show you the number of links to a website, the domains and IPs referring to that site, the number of follow and nofollow links and the percentage of each, and the distribution by domain and extension. The database has more than 125 billion backlinks and is still growing. You can easily sort and filter the results as well as export the data. Also you can compare your domain with your competitors (up to five domains per report).
Easily find new, changed and dropped links. You can also automatically check your backlinks every two weeks. This tool also searches for contact information on “About” pages and home pages making outreach easy.
3. Majestic SEO
Majestic claims to have the largest Link Intelligence database on the planet. You’ll get information on top backlinks, referring domains, and top pages. There’s also a backlink history tool that will detail external backlinks for the past 12 months and referring domains for the same time period.
4. Open Site Explorer
This tool can also help you reverse engineer your competition’s marketing efforts. Reports are divided into six sections: Inbound links, top pages, linking domains, anchor text, compare link metrics, advanced reports and just-discovered links. You can also view page authority, domain authority, linking root domains, total links, Facebook shares, Facebook likes, tweets, and Google +1s, for your chosen URL.
With Ahrefs, you can keep track of your data and metrics in a single table with the options to sort and export. Data updates every 15 minutes and the tool can show links (including new and internal), linking domains, anchors, and best pages of a domain.
Step 3: Go Deeper
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I promised that I’d give you the bare minimum because I know most webmasters aren’t systematically leveraging inbound links because there are so many strategies, tools, and tactics that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
In my experience, the best way to address that issue is to stick to the basics and scale once you get some experience and feedback. So, if you feel like you’ve got the first two steps down, it’s time to get a little more involved with inbound links.
It’s time to go deeper.
You’ve looked at your backlinks. You’ve checked out your competitors’ backlinks. What else is there?
Well, now it’s time to get creative.
If you want to take your link building to the next level, you’ll have to find innovative ways to attract inbound links. So, if you know who links to you analyze the people that link to those people. In other words, check out the backlinks of the backlinks.
It wouldn’t hurt to implement some link-building strategies.
In the long run, this will help you develop a link profile that tells search engines and the humans doing the searching that your website is relevant and authoritative.
If you’re serious about doing business online, inbound links are critical to your success. There are a lot of different ways to approach building links, but if you don’t have much time, I recommend that you focus on the three tactics we just talked about.
I’ve found those tactics to be the most effective and the easiest to implement.
After all, you have to get started to get results. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. If you’ve hesitated to get started building backlinks, what are you waiting for?
What other backlink tactics and tools do you feel are worth using?
Elena Terenteva is PR and content Manager of the SEMrush team. Elena has seven years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/content manager for IT and finance companies. Her areas of interest and expertise are content marketing, SEO, online marketing. You can connect with Elena on LinkedIn.