Internal and External Linking: How to Audit Your Link Profile
Internal and external links both play a crucial role in determining your website’s visibility on the Internet.
Internal links are links that connect one page to other pages on the same domain. On the other hand, external links are links from another website pointing to your site.
To ensure that your link profile is healthy and optimized for SEO, it’s important to regularly review and audit it. Here’s how to do it.
What Is a Link Profile?
A link profile is a portfolio of all backlinks or links that point to your website from other websites.
The structure, quality, and quantity of these links are all taken into consideration by search engines like Google when ranking your website. A healthy link profile will help you climb up search engine results pages (SERPs) and expand your organic reach.
What Makes a Healthy Link Profile?
A healthy link profile is made up of a few key components:
- A diverse range of links from both internal and external sources
- Links that are relevant to your website’s content
- Relevant anchor text used in links
- Natural link growth (links are acquired over time, not all at once)
The health of your link profile can be assessed by conducting regular link profile audits, which we will discuss in more detail in the next section.
8 Steps for Auditing Your Link Profile
Link profile auditing involves a comprehensive analysis of your site’s internal and external links. Here are the basic steps for conducting a link profile audit:
1. Identify Your Links
Start by identifying all the internal and external links on your website. You can use SEO tools like Google Search Console or Ahrefs to generate a comprehensive list.
You can also further organize your list by grouping links according to domain and link type. This will help you get an overview of your profile and make it easier to identify problem areas.
2. Categorize Your Links
After identifying your links, categorize them for a more detailed analysis. This can be achieved through various methods:
- By Source: Distinguish between internal and external links. As mentioned, this will give a more high-level overview of your link profile.
- By Quality: High-quality links are typically from reputable, well-ranked, and relevant websites. Low-quality links may come from spammy or irrelevant sites.
- By Relevance: Classify the links based on how closely related they are to your site’s content or niche.
- By Anchor Text: Analyzing the anchor text can help you understand how search engines might interpret the context of your site.
- By Follow vs No-Follow: “Follow” links pass on SEO credit to your site, while “no-follow” links do not. Both have a role in a balanced link profile.
These categories will guide your next steps, helping to identify which links are beneficial to your SEO and which may be posing risks.
3. Analyze Link Quality
Analyzing the quality of your links involves assessing the value that each link brings to your website in terms of SEO.
3.1 Analyzing High-Quality Links
As was mentioned, high-quality links typically come from reputable, high-authority websites that rank well in search engines. They should be relevant to your site’s content or niche and provide value to your audience.
Metrics to consider when evaluating a high-quality link include:
- Domain Authority (DA): Domain authority is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on SERPs. The higher the DA, the more valuable the link.
- Page Authority (PA): This is also part of the Moz score, but PA predicts how well a specific page will rank on SERPs.
- Trust Flow: A metric from Majestic that measures the quality of a site based on its links.
- Citation Flow: This metric is also from Majestic, which gauges the quantity of links without considering their quality.
- Link Relevancy: Does the linking page topic relate well to your website’s content? Relevancy is a significant factor in how a link can affect your website’s ranking.
3.2 Analyzing Low-Quality Links
Low-quality links, on the other hand, are often from sites with low domain authority, spammy sites, or sites that have no relevance to your own.
Additionally, sites with a high spam score, low-quality content, or those involved in dubious SEO practices like link farms can also generate low-quality links. These links can harm your website’s ranking and should be removed or disavowed.
The same metrics listed above can be used to identify low-quality links.
4. Examine Anchor Text
The anchor text refers to the clickable text in a hyperlink. Search engines use this text to understand the context and relevance of the linked content.
Here’s how to evaluate your site’s anchor texts:
- Identify Patterns: Look for any patterns in your anchor text. A natural link profile will have a diverse range of anchor texts including:
- exact match (keywords exactly matching your targeted terms)
- partial match (phrases containing your targeted terms)
- brand (your brand name or variations of it)
- generic (commonly used phrases like “click here” or “more info”)
- Check for Over-Optimization: Be cautious of over-optimizing your anchor text with exact match keywords. Search engines may view this as manipulative and it could lead to penalties. An ideal anchor text distribution should be natural and varied.
- Evaluate Relevancy: Ensure that the anchor text is relevant to the linked content. Irrelevant anchor text can confuse users and may negatively impact your SEO.
A good anchor text strategy balances the need to provide contextual cues to search engines with maintaining a natural and user-friendly experience.
5. Check for Broken Links
Broken links negatively impact user experience and your website’s SEO. To check for broken links, you can use a tool like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog to crawl through your entire website and identify any faulty links.
Once the broken links are identified, you can either fix the link on the source page or update it with an alternative link.
6. Analyze Link Velocity
Link velocity measures how quickly new links are generated over time. It helps you determine if the link growth rate is natural or appears to be artificially manipulated.
To check, use a tool such as Majestic. This will show you when the links were added, which sites linked to you, and so on.
7. Review Link Distribution
Ensure that links are evenly distributed throughout your website. Having multiple links on one page and none on another can create an imbalance and impact SEO.
To analyze the link distribution, use a tool like Open Site Explorer. This will show you where your links are coming from and identify any potential areas for improvement.
8. Track Your Metrics
Other metrics such as the bounce rate, click-through rate, and time on site can provide valuable insights into how users are interacting with your content.
Analyzing these data will help you understand if the links are driving quality traffic to your website or if they’re having a negative impact on user experience. For example:
- Bounce rate: A high bounce rate could mean that the linked content is irrelevant or unappealing to users.
- Click-through rate: A low click-through rate indicates that users are not engaging with your links.
- Time on site: Low time spent on pages suggests that visitors are quickly leaving after clicking a link without exploring other areas of your website.
Boost Your Link Building with a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy
Remember, the goal isn’t just to have a large number of links, but to have a portfolio of high-quality, relevant links that genuinely enhance your website’s value and visibility. A healthy link profile is also an ongoing effort that requires consistent monitoring and optimization.
If you need help with any of your link-building and SEO tasks, consider leveraging a full-service digital marketing agency like Ilfusion.
We’ll help you create and implement a customized digital marketing strategy that ensures your website has an optimized link profile and the most effective SEO practices in place.
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