The importance of checking backlinks to your site
When it comes to Internet marketing backlinks are really one of the foundations that make everything tick. All of the major search engines, including Google, use inbound backlinks as one of the key measures of a websites relevance for any particular search term. In fact this process of measuring a webpages relevance by the amount of backlinks it has pointing to it was one of the key factors around which the Google search algorithm was originally created.
Since Google launched this algorithm it has always been known as PageRank and this is a number ranging from zero to ten that can be used as a rough guide to the amount and quality of backlinks that any page has pointing to it. This information has been publically available via the Google Toolbar and other online services, although the public data is not up to date it is still very useful to webmasters.
Unfortunately Google are now moving away from PageRank or at least from publishing it online so this can no longer be used as an accurate measure of a web pages authority or backlink profile.
Despite this fact there is no question that backlinks are still one of the most important factors in determining a pages authority and there are still plenty of tools out there that you can use to check your sites backlink profile. With the information provided by these tools as well as some of the metrics that are provided by third parties you can get a really good idea of your websites authority and an understanding of where and why it ranks for any particular keyword.
Different ways to check your backlinks
There are many different ways that you can check your backlinks. There are some free services such as monitorbacklinks.com which will show you a limited amount of information. There are also paid for services such as ahrefs.com which you can use to provide a comprehensive backlink report for your entire website or any particular page within it.
Some of the information that is included in a typical ahrefs.com report includes the URL where the backlink was found, the page on your site that it points to, the anchor text that is used in the link as well as a score of the linking URL as determined by ahrefs.com.
At the very basic level this report is great because you can see how many websites are linking to your site. In very general terms, the more links you have coming in the better. These links tell Google that your site is popular and that the subjects on your site are clearly of interest and therefore should be ranked within their search engine.
It does get a little more complicated than that of course and taking a deep dive into the world of backlinks can give you a real insight into the effectiveness of your link profile.
The first and easiest thing you can determine from your link profile report is the anchor text that is used by sites linking to you. The anchor text is the text that a site uses to link to your site and this text helps Google and other search engines to determine what content the destination page contains from the viewpoint of the endorser. The basic theory is that if your page has 10 links pointing to it and they all have “blue widgets” as the link text then your page is probably about blue widgets. In addition because other sites are linking to your page with this text it must have some good information on the subject so the search engines are likely to rank it highly.
Once again this becomes more complicated because Google take many other factors into consideration including the percentage of links that have this text in the anchor – based on this percentage Google and other search engines will decide how relevant the page is, whether the information is honest and accurate and whether there is any fowl play going on in terms of anchor text manipulation.
If you have access to the source of your backlinks either directly or through reaching out to those linking to your site you can modify these external links to decrease or increase the frequency in which any particular anchor text appears. Changing this frequency can help to improve the ranking of your page for the keyword in question.
Another very important metric when it comes to backlinks is the domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) of the links pointing to your site. Generally speaking the higher the value of these two figures the more beneficial that backlink is likely to be for you. These figures can be checked for each and every backlink that points to your site and using the results you can gauge the effectiveness of each link.
This information is very useful when trying to facilitate relationships with sites that link to you as well as for building new links. If you find inbound links that have a very low score then you can write to the site owner and request the removal of such links or you can use the Google disavow tool to instruct Google to ignore such links.
This is really just an overview of a very complex subject and the best way to learn all of the intricacies involved in backlink profile monitoring is to sign up to a service link ahrefs.com and start experimenting.