Having read Joe’s post from last week about the Link Love conference which he attended I thought I’d update a blog I did about 3 years covering what links a website has and my update on this last year.
This new link building related post will also tie in with Google announcing that they will be cracking down on “over-optimised” websites the back link profile of your website could become more important and finding yourself with some kind of “link penalty” may become something more and more webmasters are facing.
Google are providing website owners (and other verified users in Webmaster Tools) with more information about any issues they are seeing which might affect how a website ranks so if there is a link based issue in Google’s eyes you should get a message about it. In the last few months there has been an increase in the number of these “Unnatural Links” messages in Webmaster Tools. However, as Google auto forwarding on these emails is not working that well at the moment it’s a good idea to check your Google Webmaster Tools account regularly to make sure there are no messages outstanding.
So what do you look at to see if there are issues with you site and the links which are coming through to it?
Google Webmaster Tools contains information about what links you have coming to your website and in terms of what Google thinks of you website this is a good place to start as these links are the one’s Google is aware of. You can download links from Google Webmaster Tools and review them in Excel allowing you to check the site which the link is on and the anchor text used.
The information in this report is pretty basic as when you download the excel file you receive a simple list of URLs (you can download the list which is shown in GWMT or a complete list). So although this gives you an idea of what links to your site Google is showing it’s not as helpful when looking to see if there are issues with the number of links from the same IP address or having all of your links with the same anchor text. Where this can help you is to see if there are any low quality sites or site wide links to your website which are being seen by Google.
Majestic SEO is still a great tool for looking at your website links and helps to identify what links are coming through to your site and which might be the most powerful, – such as links from the BBC, Newspapers such as The Times or other high profile website. But it also helps you to identify if there are a large number of sites linking to you from the same IP address or using the same keyword. Both the anchor text used and the IP address could form part of Google’s’ over optimisation penalty. I’ve found it quite useful to export this data into an excel spreadsheet and do some number crunching on it from there. You can also use Majestic to review what anchor texts are being used to link to your site to make sure that the same term isn’t being “over used” as this could trigger a penalty.
As mentioned in my last blog you can also use Open Site Explorer from SEOmoz and if you have a paid account with them you can export a list of the links on your site and use tools such as Link Detective to review the level of dead links to the site and the percentage of links for each of your core keywords.
All of these tools run behind time, and don’t provide you with an accurate, real time position of the links on your website, however they do offer a good view of where you potential penalty is coming from.
Moving forwards look at content and social as the way forwards for your website rather than looking at some of the “1000 links in a month”, blog networks and automated directory type sites as many of these could cause issues with your site in the future. Creating good quality, unique content which your target audience will find useful will ensure that your website is more likely to be shared on social networks and this in turn means that your website will have the good social signals which the search engines now look for on websites.