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A comprehensive guide to backlink analysis for international growth

Within digital marketing, a strategic and data-driven approach is essential to outpace the competition. A notable aspect of SEO that significantly boosts online visibility and facilitates international growth is backlink analysis. This article explores the world of backlink audits, explaining their importance, and providing tips on how to conduct an effective SEO link analysis.


What is a backlink analysis?

Backlink analysis involves examining the links leading to your website from external sources, commonly referred to as backlinks. These links continue to play an important role in search engine algorithms, impacting your website’s authority, credibility, and overall ranking. A thorough backlink audit assesses inbound link quality, quantity, and relevance.


Why do backlinks matter?

Backlinks are important for SEO, since they contribute to:

  • Enhanced search engine rankings: Backlinks act as digital votes of confidence for your website, influencing search engine algorithms. More high-quality backlinks correlate with higher rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
  • Domain authority and trust: Backlinks contribute to your website’s domain authority, reflecting credibility and trustworthiness. Quality backlinks from reputable sources establish your site as an authoritative voice in your industry.
  • Referral traffic: Beyond SEO benefits, backlinks drive direct traffic to your website, creating channels for referral traffic and potentially increasing engagement, conversions, and revenue.


How to do a backlink audit

Follow these steps to carry out an effective backlink audit and enhance your website’s SEO performance:

  • Identify your backlink profile: Use SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, or others to gather information on existing backlinks. Understand sources, anchor texts, and link types pointing to your site.
  • Evaluate link quality: Emphasise link quality over quantity. Look for links from authoritative domains within your industry, considering factors like domain authority, page authority, and relevance.
  • Check for toxic backlinks: Regularly monitor and disavow toxic backlinks, safeguarding your SEO efforts from harm. ‘Toxic’ means links from spammy, low-quality, or suspicious websites – see below for further examples.
  • Analyse anchor texts: Examine the diversity and natural distribution of anchor texts in backlinks. Avoid over-optimised or suspicious anchor texts to prevent search engine penalties.
  • Competitor analysis: Benchmark your backlink profile against competitors, identifying opportunities for acquiring high-quality backlinks.

Carrying out an SEO link analysis isn’t a one-off event – like many aspects of SEO, it’s an area that needs to be revisited regularly. How often will depend on your circumstances but many businesses audit their backlink profile quarterly to ensure it’s in the best possible condition.


Examples of toxic backlinks to avoid

Toxic backlinks in SEO include:

  • Spammy directories: Links from irrelevant directories built solely for link-building purposes.
  • Link farms: Networks of sites created for link exchange, often lacking valuable content.
  • Irrelevant sites: Backlinks from sites unrelated to your content or industry.
  • Paid links: Links obtained through payment, violating search engine guidelines and risking penalties.
  • Comment and forum spam: Links from low-quality comment sections or forums with automated content.
  • Low-quality guest posts: Backlinks from guest posts on sites with poor content quality or a history of spam.
  • Link exchanges: Reciprocal linking schemes solely for boosting link quantity.
  • Malicious websites: Backlinks from sites engaged in illegal or unethical activities, like malware distribution.
  • Social bookmarking spam: Links from bookmarking sites primarily for link manipulation, not genuine content sharing.
  • Unnatural anchor text: Excessive use of exact-match or overly optimised anchor texts appearing unnatural to search engines.


Consequences of ignoring toxic backlinks

Neglecting toxic backlinks in SEO can harm your site’s performance and rankings, potentially leading to:

  • Search engine penalties: Google and other search engines may penalise sites with toxic backlinks, causing drops in rankings or removal from SERPs.
  • Decreased visibility: Toxic backlinks can reduce your site’s visibility, lowering rankings and hindering user discovery.
  • Impact on user experience: Toxic backlinks associating your site with low-quality content can deter user engagement.
  • Reduction in organic traffic: Lower rankings result in decreased organic traffic, affecting your ability to attract potential customers.
  • Loss of credibility: Links from spammy sites tarnish credibility, impacting trust and reputation within your industry, which can take time to rebuild.
  • Financial impact: Reduced online visibility may lead to declines in leads, conversions, and revenue for businesses.


Oban’s approach to backlink analysis

Our approach to SEO link analysis involves a tailored examination of your industry, product category, and keywords. We understand that search engine visibility is intricately tied to relevant queries, website content, and user needs.

Recognising that what works in one product category may not apply universally, our process starts with a thorough evaluation of your competitors’ backlinks. This helps us understand the combinations of link and anchor text types that yield maximum visibility. Once we identify the optimal approach, we compare your website to industry peers, pinpointing successful strategies and execution ideas.

Our analysis extends beyond performance metrics. We meticulously review links for source toxicity, swiftly identifying harmful or low-quality sources that could negatively impact your website. Using a suite of industry-standard tools, we ensure a comprehensive examination of as many links as possible.

Following our technical analysis, we provide our clients with a detailed document outlining recommended actions, such as link removal or reconfiguration. This comprehensive report typically includes:

  • A list of URLs recommended for removal
  • Guidance on creating disavow files
  • An opportunity review report, suggesting links between your company and partner websites

Considering the global landscape – always an Oban priority – our backlink analysis emphasises international relevance. We collaborate with clients to ensure search engines perceive backlinks as geographically pertinent to your region and market. Our analysis scrutinises the links’ country of origin, using the SEO expertise of our Local In-Market Experts to assess the suitability and quality of backlink anchor text and connecting websites.


How to build ethical backlinks for SEO

In the past, some businesses used unethical tactics to generate backlinks. Search engines have made significant efforts to combat this. The truth is that there is no shortcut to success, and positive outcomes require time and effort. Constructing high-quality, ethical backlinks is a gradual process with enduring rewards. Strategies include:

Create exceptional content: Crafting high-quality, informative, and engaging content remains the most effective way to attract organic, ethical backlinks. By consistently delivering valuable resources, businesses can naturally attract links as other websites recognise and reference the quality of the content.

Create linkable assets: Examples of content that tend to attract links and citations include first-party research, infographics, comprehensive guides, or interactive tools. These assets serve as valuable resources, enticing other websites to link to them. Ensure these assets are easily shareable and provide clear attribution.

Guest posting on reputable sites: Collaborating with industry-relevant websites through guest posting is a mutually beneficial strategy. It allows businesses to showcase expertise, while the hosting site gains valuable content. Ensure that the guest post provides genuine value and isn’t solely focused on link acquisition.

Consider using Help A Reporter: Explore using a reporter liaison service such as Help A Reporter to secure news coverage for your brand. This platform connects journalists in need of expertise for their content with knowledgeable sources in the respective field.

Participate in online communities: Engaging in online forums, discussion boards, and community platforms related to your industry can open doors to ethical backlinks. Share insights, answer questions, and contribute meaningfully to conversations. This not only establishes your authority but may also lead to others referencing your content.

Build partnerships and relationships: Establishing meaningful relationships within your industry can result in ethical backlink opportunities. Collaborate on projects, cross-promote content, and participate in joint ventures. Such partnerships can often lead to organic mentions and references.

Use social media effectively: Use social media to share your content and connect with influencers in your industry. Social signals can indirectly impact SEO, and establishing a presence on these platforms can lead to natural link acquisition as your content gets shared and recognised.

Host webinars and events: Organising webinars, conferences, or events within your industry not only positions your business as a thought leader but also creates opportunities for ethical backlinks. Participants, sponsors, or collaborators may link to your event pages or related content.

Contribute to scholarly publications and research: Depending on your brand, sector, and area of expertise, there may be opportunities to contribute to scholarly publications, research papers, or industry studies that can earn authoritative backlinks.

A growing trend relates to video since video content is becoming increasingly popular. Websites that integrate video content and receive video-related backlinks may see improved search engine rankings.

The key to ethical backlink building lies in creating value for users and the online community. Prioritise quality over quantity, and let your backlinks evolve naturally as a result of providing valuable contributions to your industry.


FAQs about backlink audits

Q: What is the importance of backlink analysis in SEO?

A: Backlink analysis or SEO link analysis helps assess the quality and quantity of websites linking to yours, influencing search engine rankings and overall online visibility.


Q: How do I identify high-quality backlinks?

A: Look for links from reputable, authoritative sites with relevant content, strong domain authority, and a natural link profile to ensure quality backlinks.


Q: Can I remove or disavow harmful backlinks?

A: Yes, use tools like Google Disavow to remove or disavow low-quality or spammy backlinks that may negatively impact your SEO performance.


Q: How often should I conduct backlink audits?

A: The frequency will depend on your link profile – but in general, it’s considered good practice to audit your backlinks regularly. For many websites, this could mean quarterly audits to monitor changes, identify potential issues, and ensure a healthy and effective link profile.


Q: Is anchor text diversity important for SEO?

A: Diversity in anchor text refers to using a variety of different words or phrases as the clickable text in hyperlinks pointing to a webpage. When websites have a range of anchor texts, it appears more natural to search engines. It signals that the links are obtained organically and not manipulated solely for SEO purposes. So yes, anchor text diversity is important.

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Oban can audit your backlink profile

Mastering backlink analysis is vital for SEO success. By understanding backlink significance, regularly evaluating your link profile, and strategically acquiring high-quality links, you pave the way for enhanced online visibility, credibility, and sustained international growth. To find out how Oban can help your business, please get in touch.

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion.
Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.

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