We all know that backlinks are a major part of the Google algorithm. As such, it stands to reason that your backlink profile is a driving force in your SEO. But you can’t just add backlinks all over the place and expect your SEO to take off. This is why it pays to know which elements of your backlink profile are the most important in your SEO strategy.
When you’re examining your backlink profile to figure out what you need to improve, here are the elements you need to be looking at.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of examining your backlink profile, you should take a look at how many backlinks you have. If you’re gunning for that page one result on Google and you have three backlinks total, you have a long way to go before you can safely say you’ve built a good backlink profile.
But why is it so critical to look at how many links you’ve earned over the lifetime of your site? When you look at how many links are in your current backlink profile, you can learn…
- How many links you’ve built in a specific period of time
- How quickly you’re building links
- How you’re being hurt by any links you’ve lost
- How many links are pointing to different pages on your site
One of the points that often causes confusion is how quickly you’re building backlinks to your site. While it might seem like a big win to get a lot of backlinks in a short timeframe, the truth is that building links too quickly can alert Google to the possibility of suspicious link building activity. So when you’re building backlinks, you need to be strategic about how you’re doing it unless you want to invoke a penalty from the very search engine you’re trying to rank on.
Not sure how to check the number of backlinks you’ve acquired? Fortunately, tools on sites like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Moz can help you get an accurate picture of just how many backlinks you’ve built to your site. Once you have that information, you can devise a strategy to improve upon your link building activities and develop a stronger link profile.
When you’re building a solid backlink profile, you want diversity in your links. Most importantly, a diverse link profile signifies to Google that you are acquiring new, relevant links on a regular basis. What does it mean to have “diverse” links, thought? Well, link diversity can mean a couple of different things.
- Acquiring links from a wide variety of websites
- Acquiring links for a wide variety of pages on your site
First, let’s cover acquiring links from a variety of websites. When you get your first link from a high-authority site, that link carries a lot of link equity with it. This is especially true if the site is relevant to yours and it has a high domain authority. Unfortunately, the more links you get from that website, the less value they contain. How can you make sure you’re getting links from a wide variety of sites? Keeping a list of sites you’ve reached out to or using some form of outreach software can help you with that. If you have a record of sites you’ve received links from, you’ll know not to reach out again in the future.
As we covered in the bullet list above, link diversity applies to your site, too. Getting a ton of links to one page on your site can seem like a huge win at first. But when your links are stacked unevenly across your site, it looks much less natural to Google. As a result, your domain can seem less authoritative, which is the opposite of what you want. To solve this problem, it can help to rotate through different pages on your site when you’re reaching out for backlinks. When you build links at an even rate to multiple pages across your website, your link profile looks much better in the eyes of search engines.
It’s easy to overlook anchor text when you’re trying to build a strong backlink profile, but the truth is that anchor text is an essential part of a strong backlink profile. Variation in your anchor text is vital to the authority of your links — over-optimizing your anchor text can backfire in the blink of an eye. In fact, over-optimizing anchor text can be seen by search engines as a spam tactic. Moral of the story: diversify your anchor text.
When you’re seeking out data on the anchor text your links are built on, there are a few common types to watch for. Each can be useful in its own way, but the most important thing to remember is that there should be a mix of these types of anchor text used when you’re building backlinks to your site.
Branded Anchor Text – As the name suggests, this anchor text contains your brand name or a branded term. For example, a link to Home Depot on the anchor text “Home Depot” is considered branded. This kind of anchor text can help you avoid getting flagged for spam under most circumstances. It’s usually in your best interests to not use an exact-match domain name for these links, though.
Keyword Anchor Text – This type of anchor text is probably the most common because its purpose is to improve keyword and page rankings. Fortunately, that’s exactly what you’re trying to do when you build a strong backlink profile. However, it pays to play it safe and avoid too many exact-match keyword anchors. That’s a surefire way to get Google’s attention, and not in a good way.
Relevant Anchor Text – Again, the name says it all for this type of anchor text. The anchor text for your link might not have to be an exact match, but it should at least be semantically relevant to the page you’re linking back to. This means the context around your anchor text also needs to be relevant.
Building your backlinks with all of this anchor text information in mind might seem tedious, but it can have a big impact on your SEO, for better or for worse. Google has always used keywords to learn what different webpages are about. But the release of Penguin in 2012 cracked down on anchor text, which forced online marketers to revise their backlink and anchor text strategies. So if you’re tempted to create every backlink with exact-match anchor text, know that Google will probably catch on.
These are just a few of the elements of your backlink profile that really drive your SEO. When you have the right knowledge and tools, it’s easy to start building backlinks that can help get your SEO moving in the right direction. How strong is your backlink profile?