Most business owners and marketers do not understand how to view and evaluate their backlinks. Backlinks have a high impact on search engine optimization so it is important you understand how.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to check backlinks for SEO.
The Fundamentals of Link Building
Often referred to as external backlinks, inbound links, incoming links, and inward links, backlinks have appeared across the internet since their inception and are one of several metrics leveraged by Google to assess the value of a web page. A backlink is defined as any hyperlink on a given website that directs you back to your website. Here’s what the process looks like in action:
Backlinks are vital to both search engines and users.
For search engines, it helps them evaluate the credibility and relevance of your site in regard to the topic that you rank for. Additionally, inbound links to your website signal to search engines that other external websites are supporting your content.
The more links you have from various high-authority domains linking to the same website or webpage, the more likely you are to rank well for top-performing keywords. The search engines can then assume that your content is worth linking to, and therefore are also worth ranking higher on search engine results pages.
While the number of backlinks was once the main indicator of a page’s popularity, today’s algorithms including Google’s Penguin 4.0 Update, were formed with the intention of assisting with other ranking factors. Now, pages are ranked higher based on the quality of their inbound links instead of the quantity.
When it comes to the end-user, these incoming links connect searchers with information that parallels the type of content written elsewhere.
For example, if an end-user is reading a page that discusses “how operating expenses affect profit,” they might also come across a study from the Business Literacy Institute on “how operating expenses are deducted from revenues in the UK.” In this case, a backlink facilitates a relationship between the current link and more information that a searcher may be interested in clicking on to learn more. This results in a positive experience for the user since it transfers them directly to an equally relevant resource if needed.
Link Building Tools for SEO
The good news is that there are plenty of amazing link building tools available when you need to check your backlinks. This takes the guesswork out of SEO and the entire linking process. With this data-backed approach, you’ll get the right people looking at your content at the right time. Without further ado, here they are:
Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
A surefire way to check backlinks is by taking a closer look at what your competitors are doing.
Founded in 2011, Ahrefs has become a longtime favorite among marketing professionals.
The interface features a lightning-fast backlink crawler and a sizable index of live inward links—over 14 trillion links to be exact.
By checking to see which websites link to your competitors’ sites and measuring the quality of their backlink profiles, Ahrefs gives you all the data you need to make an informed decision about your link profile.
Ahrefs offers a seven-day free trial for seven dollars, with plans ranging from the Lite at $99.99 per month up to Agency at $999 per month.
Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer is the leading feature of Moz Pro, one of the very first tools of its kind to hit the market.
Essentially, it allows you to reverse engineer the external links of your competitors. Once you type a competitor’s domain (or specific URL) into the search bar, Moz will generate a list of all their backlinks.
With the Link Intersect tool, you can compare competitor inbound links to see who is linking to your industry competitors.
Users can start with a 30-day free trial, and pricing begins at $99.00 per month for their Standard package, all the way up to $599.00 monthly for their Premium package. All Moz plans include one-on-one onboarding and 24-hour online support.
SEMrush is essentially a comprehensive SEO toolkit that offers a range of features.
The Backlink Analytics page provides you with all the necessary information regarding your backlink profile.
With actionable insights like historic data, number of incoming links, link types, referring domains, anchor text, TLD and trust status, you can easily identify new link opportunities and start growing your business online.
The pricing for SEMrush ranges between $99.95 monthly for the Pro plan, $199.95 for the Guru plan, and $399.95 per month for the Business plan. Unfortunately, many of the more advanced features are secured behind higher price points.
MajesticSEO is a UK-based tool that has an index of more than one trillion URLs.
While similar link tools provide you with a hefty list of backlinks, the context of the link is often nowhere to be found.
MajesticSEO pinpoints where the link is located, if and where the surrounding text is, and the number of outbound, internal, and external links there are.
Limited to only one user per package, MajesticSEO’s Lite plan charges a monthly fee of $49.99, while the Pro costs $99.99 per month. The API plan but allows up to five users but rings in at $399.99 monthly.
With MajesticSEO, broken link building involves a simple four-step process. First, input your selected domain into the Majestic Site Explorer. Once you’ve located the resource pages your website links to, you can easily export the data to Excel, CSV, TSV, or Google.
Google Search Console
A companion piece to Google Analytics, Google Search Console provides users with data that typically only Google’s bots see when they crawl through sites, including usability issues and HTML errors.
While Google Search Console does show you links from third-party sites and blogs, you can only check some of those links while using the program. However, you can identify how many total backlinks your site has, which URLs have the most backlinks, and compare your site’s search performance across various devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet.
You even have the option to compile your list of links to disavow in a text file that you can then upload to Google and access via the site’s Links report.
And unlike its competitors, Google Search Console is a free platform with no hidden fees.
How to Build Links by Finding Broken Ones
Given recent updates, online marketers need to pay close attention to their backlink profiles. In addition to an array of competitor analysis features, most of these tools also provide you with a “spam score” and “domain authority” metrics, enabling you to determine which links are broken so you can fix them accordingly.
The spam score gives you an idea of the backlink’s own backlink profile. The lower your spam score, the healthier it is. The higher the spam score, the more likely that your incoming link is in a “bad neighborhood.” Domain authority measures how powerful that link is.
SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool, for example, will give you a toxicity rating for each link it knows is linking back to your website. It lets you know which links to disavow, delete, or keep an eye on. This feature investigates inward links based on over 30 toxic factors appropriately called “toxic markers.”
After all, an ample presence of spammy backlinks will result in plummeting rankings and those website owners who don’t mitigate the issue right away risk getting penalized.
Ahrefs also offers a unique integration option that allows you to upload Google’s Disavow file and hide the disavowed links from Ahrefs reports.
For instance, let’s say you’ve discovered some disavowed links with Google and want to check your incoming link data taking those disavowed links into account, you can upload the file to Ahrefs reports found under the “Backlinks profile” menu.
If the “Hide disavowed links” button is ON, disavowed links won’t appear in the report.
If the button is OFF, disavowed links will be displayed with an option to “return disavowed link to report.”
If you detect any suspicious backlink activity, add those spammy links to the Disavow file pulled directly from the backlink checker. Then import this file into Google’s Disavow tool.
To learn more about the page, use The Wayback Machine to get an overview of the website’s history along with its most recent crawl date.
After you’ve successfully figured out where these broken links lead to, you can reach out to the website you want the link to be on via phone or email.
The struggle to obtain higher rankings in search engines and improve your SEO is real. Google’s algorithm on link evaluation is ever-changing, making it more challenging for marketers to get high-quality backlinks.
But by using the above-mentioned tools, you can get unique and authoritative links and rank higher on search engines than you ever thought possible.
Remember—a good inbound link profile should be diversified and should include links from all over the spectrum in terms of domain authority. It should also have a diversified anchor text, as well as minimize the number of toxic backlinks.