When you begin a link campaign, whether you’ve inherited one or you’re starting fresh, it’s obviously a good idea to get a sense of where things stand. There are tons of articles and tools out there that exist to help you do this, and that’s fantastic (and much nicer than what we had a few years back.) The problem that I see with all of this is the time that you can waste getting utterly bogged down with your analysis.
You shouldn’t immediately jump right into a link building campaign without doing any research of course, but I also don’t think that you need to spend weeks and weeks producing spreadsheets that give you very little direction at all, when your time would have been better spent actually pursuing links.
As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to do my very best to become more efficient in every aspect of my business, and to slow down in my personal life and enjoy my children before the day comes when they won’t be seen with me at the mall. Hence, here is my quick and dirty step by step approach for analyzing your backlink profile whether you’re taking on a new campaign or simply reevaluating where you are with a current one.
1. Analyze what’s there currently. Use whatever tool(s) you like, but make sure you get an accurate idea of where you stand. Major things to look at include how many backlinks the site has, the distribution of anchor text, how many links are nofollowed, and your link growth.
2. Analyze the backlink data for a few competitors and see where you stand in relation to them.
3. Sketch out an idea of where you’d like to be in 6 months. What are your goals? Unreasonable or not, lay them out. You can narrow them down in the next form of analysis. (see step 8 below)
4. Compare your goals to your existing setup. Which ones are you close to meeting? Which ones will need a serious amount of work to meet? List them in order so that you can immediately see which can be met quickly, and which need a more long-term strategy to meet.
5. Identify any problem areas. Whether it’s a 95% anchor text reliance upon your url, a total lack of inbound links for your most critical keywords, or anything else that stands out, note it and figure out how you’re going to tackle it. If you see loads of link spikes in your backlink history, try to track them down and figure out why they occurred (press release, major news topic, linkbait, etc.)
Now that you have some basic information about your backlink profile and a few of your competitors, you can do some further analysis:
6. Look for common threads and general themes that you all have.
7. Look for what they all have that you’re missing. Figure out why you don’t have it, and whether or not you need it. If you and your three competitors all have roughly the same number of backlinks and you’re ranking at number 93 while they’re all in the top 5 for all the major industry terms, it’s time to dig deeper into the actual site, and the other aspects of SEO.
8. Using this information and what you’ve gleaned from the initial analysis (see step 3 above), make a plan of attack and set some realistic goals for the next few months.
Now, as you may know, it’s obviously not a good idea to try and rectify something immediately by grabbing up hundreds of links when you’ve historically been generating around 15 new inbound links a month.
If you determine that your competitors all have 5000 links more than you do right now, lay out a month by month guideline for how many links you’d like to get each month, making sure that your goals are in keeping with your historical backlink growth profile. If you’ve been getting 10 new links a month, I wouldn’t recommend making it a monthly goal to try and get 400 links in the first month. You want to build up slowly so that it looks natural. Just don’t become paralyzed by your analysis.
See? A more efficient post than I normally write! Well, at least it’s shorter than usual…
Happy holidays to everyone!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.