In my last article, I shared our on-page SEO Audit Checklist, which contains 15 factors to help your website rank higher in Google.
But that checklist really only covers half of the equation…
If You Build a Website, Will It Rank? (Not Necessarily)
Remember the movie Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner kept hearing voices whispering, “If you build it, they will come?”
Well, that was a movie… I wouldn’t rely on that strategy for your marketing.
In other words, simply creating a website isn’t enough…
If you want to get your website ranking on the first page of Google, you need to build links to your website.
And today, I’m going to help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your link profile.
SEO Link Audit Checklist
Here are the 6 questions we ask when reviewing a website’s link profile…
1. What is your domain authority?
The first thing we’ll look at is your website’s overall domain authority (e.g. the strength of your link profile). The stronger your domain authority, the more Google trusts your website, and the easier time you’ll have ranking your webpages in Google.
One metric to look at is PageRank. PageRank is a score that Google uses to rank each webpage’s link authority, from 0 to 10. You can install a browser toolbar that’ll show you the PageRank of webpages as you visit them. However, Google only updates the PageRank numbers a few times per year, so it’s not a very helpful gauge on a day-to-day (or week-to-week) basis.
The other metric to check is MozRank, created by Moz. This provides another measure of a website’s domain authority and it’s updated more frequently. MozRank is on a 0-100 scale, and you can use Moz’s OpenSiteExplorer.org to find your score.
2. How many websites are linking to your website?
Each link to your website is like a vote in your favor. But it’s actually not the number of total links that you want to look at, but rather the number of unique domains linking to your website.
For example, it’s more beneficial for SEO to have 1 link each from 50 different websites than it is to have just 1 website linking to you from 50 different pages on that 1 website.
There are a number of tools you can use to see how many different websites are linking to your website, including:
And you can also get similar data from Google Webmaster Tools.
3. Are the links from relevant domains?
All links are not counted equally. Link quality is more important than raw link quantity, which means that you’ll want to get links from relevant, high-authority domains.
If you have a lot of low-quality, unrelated websites linking to your website, this could have a negative impact on your rankings — and you may even be at risk of a Google Penguin or “unnatural links” penalty.
4. What does the anchor text look like?
Anchor text refers to the clickable text (e.g. hyperlinked) in a link. And when we conduct link audits, we review the anchor text of the links pointing to your website to see what kind of words they include.
Recently, Google has been penalizing websites for having over-optimized anchor text, so it’s important to keep your anchor text natural.
A sign of a natural link profile is that most of the anchor text is brand-based (the name of your website or your company) with a smaller ratio of keyword-based anchor text (the non-brand keywords you want to rank for).
So, for example, if you are a cosmetic dentist in Boston named Dr. Joseph Willard and your practice is called Beautiful Smiles, we would expect to see most of the anchor text say things like “Dr. Joseph Willard” or “Beautiful Smiles” rather than non-branded phrases like “cosmetic dentist Boston.”
If you have an unnatural concentration of valuable non-brand anchor text, you may be at risk of a Google penalty.
5. Do you need to remove / disavow any links?
If there are a lot of unnatural links and you’re at risk of a Google penalty (or currently dealing with a penalty), you may want to remove or disavow some (or most) of your links.
This is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Removing or disavowing links to your website can have a negative short-term impact on your Google rankings, so we recommend getting expert advice before taking this step.
6. How do you compare to your competitors?
Finally, it’s important to run this same link analysis on your top competitors, so you can see how strong (or weak) your competitors’ links are, and how much effort and resources it’ll take to get your website on the first page of Google.
Need SEO Advice?
If you want to get your website ranking on the first page of Google, you should take advantage of our SEO Audit & Consultation service.
With this service, you’re getting a detailed SEO Audit, so you can see the exact steps to get your website ranking higher in Google.
Plus, you’re getting an expert SEO Consultation with me, so you can get all of your SEO questions answered.
You’ll come away with a clear action plan to get your website on the first page of Google.