Running a Link Audit

If you are already looking ahead to 2012, one of the first steps you can take to ensure that your website is ready for the new year is to conduct a link audit. This will help you look over the links  you’ve acquired in the previous year. Where are they coming from? Where should they be coming from? It is important to analyse the links you’ve accrued, and it is even more essential to do so for organic links. An audit can help you develop an effective link building strategy and increase your site’s visibility and credibility.

First, though, what is a link audit? It is simply a list of every link that points to your site, whether you intentionally recruited that link or it appeared naturally. To do this, make sure you have a Google Webmaster Tools account; in this toolbox, you will find a free tool that will create the link list. While there are others, such as Link Diagnosis, Google’s tends to be the most accurate and inclusive. That’s the easy part. The next step is to visit each of the links that goes to your site. This means if you’re popular, your audit is going to be much more time-consuming! Nevertheless, it is an essential annual process.

The purpose of visiting each link is to determine what type of site it is. Why? Links from “questionable” sites, such as those containing gambling or pornographic materials, can decrease your site’s worth in the eyes of the search engine and undermine your SEO strategy. An audit could also tell you if your site was the victim of a reverse SEO attack. This is when a spam site is created and then linked to competitors so that the search engines think the legitimate sites are involved in blackhat link building schemes.

Besides looking for bad links and reverse SEO, you also want to look for the variety of links you have. Like your investment portfolio, your link portfolio should be diversified, and for just the same reason. If you invest all your money in corn and there is a terrible drought, you have lost all your money. If you spread it out and invested in wheat, soy, steel, and other commodities, you could absorb that loss. In SEO terms, this means that if Google runs an update that suddenly negates the value of blog comment links (just hypothetical!) and all your links come from blog comments, you will lose all your link juice.

Ideally, you want a mix of links from business profiles, articles, news items, blogs, blog comments, press releases, videos, social media sites, and others. This also boosts your site’s profile when it comes to the search engine because it tends to indicate you have quality content. The more sources of traffic you have, the less vulnerable you are to algorithm tweaks and other factors.

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