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How To Conduct a Backlink Analysis

Backlink Analysis

Backlinks remain one of the most influential ranking factors in 2023. Conducting recurring backlink analysis is crucial for monitoring your site's authority and illuminating opportunities to build more high-quality links at scale. This comprehensive guide will explore what exactly a backlink analysis is, why it offers irreplaceable insights for SEO success, and provide a detailed, step-by-step methodology for extracting actionable data through your own analysis.

What is a Backlink Analysis?

At its core, a backlink analysis examines two key attributes regarding inbound links pointing to a specific webpage or domain:

  • Quantity - The total number of backlinks from external sites

  • Quality - The value and relevance of those referring domains

Backlinks function as votes of confidence passed from one site to another. When Site A links out to Site B, they pass authority and ranking power - especially if Site A itself has strong metrics like traffic, domain authority, etc.

As more sites link to a certain page or domain, search engines like Google interpret the growing number of backlinks as an endorsement, similar to popularity metrics like social shares or reviews. Pages with more backlinks tend to perform better in rankings, with this core correlation forming the foundation of off-page SEO.

However, purely chasing backlink numbers is a flawed approach all too common in early SEO strategies. While quantity holds some merit, the real ranking gold lies within backlink quality. One link from the New York Times packs more punch than 1,000 links from spammy directories.

Backlink analysis shines light on this quality dimension, exploring not just how many total links you have, but specifically where they come from, what types of websites are linking, and metrics like domain authority that estimate the ranking power being transferred. Conducting recurring analysis spotlights higher-quality sources sending equity as well as existing site authority and trust.

Most importantly, a backlink analysis that sorts data by source, type, and quality paints a clear picture of precisely where a site should focus link building efforts for maximizing returns. It offers an indispensable roadmap for the oft-ambiguous task of building SEO authority.

Why Does Backlink Analysis Matter?

Many site owners and SEO practitioners undervalue backlink analysis, considering it a vanity metric or low-priority reporting. This perspective misses why actionable analysis of quality link data matters:

Gauges Overall Domain Authority - Total backlinks and metrics like Domain Authority or Ahrefs Rank estimate authority passed to a site. This signals how much "trust" search engines are placing to influence rankings, especially for competitive keywords.

Illuminates Ranking Opportunities - Knowing exactly where competitors are earning high-quality links that you lack helps prioritize outreach and partnerships for claiming those links yourself.

Identifies Low-Quality Links - Just as beneficial editorial links pass value, low-quality links from ad networks, link schemes, etc. can actually hurt rankings. Analysis spots this "toxicity" for disavowing.

Informs Link-Building Strategy - Quality link data coupled with competitive gaps form the foundation for an intentional, targeted link building approach tailored to your site and niche.

Provides Benchmark for Progress - Tracking analysis metrics over months gives real numbers to benchmark backlink growth, referring domain expansion, and increased domain authority.

Without the insights surfaced through routine backlink analysis, most link building campaigns amount to guesses, random outreach to perceived opportunities, and questions around why rankings are or are't moving. Conducting recurring analysis and configuring those quality link insights into actionable SEO strategies is what separates experts from amateurs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conduct a Backlink Analysis

Conducting a proper backlink analysis requires compiling complete link data from a few key tools, then extracting strategic value during review. Here is a step-by-step blueprint leading from data gathering to informed insights:

Choose Target Domains and Pages

First, clarify the specific site assets you want to analyze. This typically includes:

  • Your main home page

  • Category or service pages relevant to commercial intent keywords

  • Specific linkable assets like tool pages, viral content, etc.

  • Main competitor website home pages

Keep the initial domain list short and focused for more actionable results vs. analyzing hundreds of site pages at once.

Extract Complete Backlink Profiles

The next task calls on backlink analysis tools to compile full data sets of backlinks pointing to your target pages. Top options like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, Majestic, and Linkody provide strong reporting:

  • Ahrefs - Very robust data and sorting. Free 7-day trial.

  • Moz - Built-in disavow tool. 30-day free trial.

  • SEMRush - Integrates organic keyword data. 14-day free trial.

While paid tools unlock more data, even the free analysis can pull enough links for initial sorting and prioritization. The goal is compiling the full list of all external sites linking in to your focus pages.

Export this aggregate link data into a spreadsheet, dataset, or API for sorting and analysis. Don't rely solely on the analysis platform itself.

Organize Backlinks by Quality and Type

Here is where strategic value emerges from the link data via manual sorting, tagging, and filtering in your spreadsheet. The key is applying multiple labels to each backlink using parameters like:

  • Link Type - Classify by type: Editorial, Resource Page, Directory, Forum

  • Domain Authority - DA, Domain Rating, Ahrefs Rank

  • Contextual Relevance - Alignment with your niche, products, and keywords

  • Link Location - Footer, Sidebar, Content

  • Spam Score - Identify sketchy links for disavowing

Sorting by these attributes illuminates patterns within existing links and segments sources by potential value. Our brains can only process so many raw links - categorizing forces you to evaluate the data.

Compare Metrics Against Competitors

Pull sorted link data for competitor home pages and category pages into your spreadsheet for side-by-side comparisons. Compare by metrics like:

  • Total backlinks

  • Referring domains

  • Domain authority distribution

  • Links by type and location

Note where competitors earn significantly more or higher-authority links than you. These gaps inform what link prospects you should prioritize for outreach to mirror or exceed their profiles.

Identify New Link Building Targets

Next, mine the categorized link data to identify promising new websites and pages to pursue for backlinks. Specifically note:

  • Quality sites in your niche not yet linking to you

  • Sites competitors have earned links from

  • Relevant publications and resources accepting contributor posts

  • Applicable roundups, best-of articles, and directory listings

Add these tangible linking opportunities into an outbound spreadsheet or contacts database. They become the foundation of your link outreach pipeline.

Set a Results-Driven Backlink Strategy

Equipped with a prioritized list of potential link sources, established sites earning you equity, and metrics bench marking existing authority, you can define a strategy optimized for acquiring valuable links efficiently. Outline targets for:

  • Monthly link outreach volume - 50 emails/mo, etc.

  • Backlink additions per month by type - 5 new editorial links

  • Improvements in domain authority within 6-12 months

Then detail the exact combination of outreach tactics, link bait assets like tools and resources, and content creation that will hit those marks based on the link opportunity data uncovered above.

Rinse and repeat this analysis quarterly, adjusting targets and tactics based on new data. The metrics will spotlight what's working vs. what requires revised approaches.

Track Progress in a Dashboard

The final step is creating a basic link KPI dashboard to monitor success over time. This tracks fundamental metrics like:

  • Total Backlinks

  • Referring Domains

  • Domain Authority/Ahrefs Rank

  • Links Added By Type

Watching key indicators trend upwards over months keeps link building momentum strong, while informing any strategy changes needed when numbers plateau. Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Level Up Your Rankings With Smarter Links

In closing, backlink analysis certainly requires some manual heavy lifting. But immersing yourself within the data produces more than spreadsheets - it cultivates an intimate understanding of your site's SEO strengths, underutilized content ripe for links, and the highest-impact websites to court for driving more organic visibility over time via earned links. Implementing these analysis steps ignites more profitable rankings through contextually-relevant links versus leaving link building up to guesswork. Let quality link data guide your journey to sustainable search visibility.

Leverage Experts to Conduct Powerful Backlink Analysis and SEO

If you want great backlink analysis and strategic insights for dominating search rankings, our experienced SEO Eperts has you covered. We conduct the comprehensive link analysis process this article outlines to evaluate your site's authority, benchmark competitors, and identify the best link-building opportunities. Leveraging that data, we then execute an optimized methodology combining content creation, outreach, and link bait assets to efficiently build high-quality backlinks at scale. We follow strict best practices to get you the game-changing backlink profile and search visibility you desire. Contact us today to turbocharge your SEO with our proven backlink analysis and acquisition services!


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