Backlink analysis 101: How to find the good and bad links for SEO

Backlink analysis 101: How to find the good and bad links for SEO

Search Engine Optimization is strongly influenced by the quality of backlinks a website has. If your site has quality and trustworthy backlinks, it will rank high in search engines and generate relevant traffic.

In this post, I’ll show how to perform an in-depth backlinks analysis and get know which of your backlinks are good or bad for SEO.

Finding the bad backlinks

To find your worst links, you’ll need to use an SEO tool.

While there are countless of great Tools available, and some are better than the other. We’re using Monitor Backlinks for this example as the tool implements APIs from various tools and gives you plenty of SEO metrics that will ease things up.

Note that you shouldn’t judge the quality of a backlink solely by what some SEO metrics are saying. That means that you shouldn’t remove or disavow a link just because a metric indicates that its quality is not so great.

The majority of these metrics are given by third party SEO tools, and not directly by Google. Therefore, don’t be surprised when you’ll see that a site with a Domain Authority of 30 will rank higher for a particular keyword than a site that has a Domain Authority of 50.

Finding your backlinks is straightforward.

First, you’ll have to add the domain of your site and you’ll get to see all your backlinks on the main dashboard that look like in the screenshot below.

To find the bad ones, you can sort your backlinks by their metrics using the filters on the right side.

Next, find the low-quality metrics.

For SEO, only dofollow links matter, so you can ignore the nofollow ones.

To find sites that have been severely penalized by Google, choose to see the dofollow links that are coming from domains not indexed in Google’s search results. The small red icon in the column “Status/GI” indicates that the site that’s linking to you is not indexed in Google.

The Google index status is one of the most reliable SEO metrics. Whenever you find a site that’s not indexed in the search results, that’s most likely because Google has removed it manually. If you care about SEO, you don’t want your site to be associated with sites that are penalized by Google, let alone having a link from them. Such backlinks should be removed and disavowed.

The second choice to sort your links is to select “dofollow” and then “high external backlinks”. By doing so, you’ll get to see all backlinks from sites that link out to more than 100 external websites. Quality sites rarely link out to a high number of other sites. Also, the higher the number of external links a site has, the lesser value the link to your site will have for SEO.

After applying the filters, click on the column named “EXT” to see the links that have the highest number of external links first. These are the results:

Notice how the first and second sites link out to over 40.000 thousand other websites. Who does that anyway? An awful website, of course.

Any site or page that links to more than 100 external links should raise a flag. When we’re talking about thousands of other external links, the quality of the site is undoubtedly bad.

You can also combine multiple filters at once to find the worst links of your site for SEO. These are some options:

  • Dofollow + Domain Authority Lower Than 10 (or 20)
  • Dofollow + Trust Flow Lower Than 10 (or 20)
  • Dofollow + Spam Score Higher Than 5
  • Dofollow + Server Country or ccTLD: With this option you can find backlinks coming from overseas that are not relevant to your site. For example, if you have an e-commerce site that sells soothers in US, it would make no sense to have links from sites located in Russia, India, China or any other such country.

After filtering your links, you’ll still have to pay close attention to all metrics, not just to the ones you’ve chosen for filtering.

Other methods to determine the quality of a site or backlink

Besides judging the quality of a site by looking at the metrics that are shown in Monitor Backlinks, you can also use SimilarWeb. The tool gives you details about the traffic sources, referrals, organic keywords and engagement of any site you want to analyze.

Out of all the insights provided, the one that’s most importantly is the percentage of traffic received from search engines. If that’s below 20 percent, you are rarely dealing with a quality site.

On the other side, if a website has a high percentage of traffic from search engines, it means that Google thinks the site is valuable and therefore rewarded them with high rankings that lead to a good amount of traffic.

In the screenshot below you can see a site that doesn’t get much traffic from search engines.

The truth is that if Google doesn’t think that site deserves to rank high and as a consequence get good traffic from the search results, you’ll not get much SEO benefits from a backlink placed on their site.

How to disavow bad backlinks

In case you find a bad link, you can quickly disavow it in Monitor Backlinks. The disavow feature allows users to create a disavow report effortlessly. Simply click on the “Disavow Domain” button located on the left side of the backlink row and a tag will be given to the link.

The export the report, head over to the Disavow page and click on the yellow button “Export”. With the report created, all you have to do is tell Google what links you don’t endorse by uploading the report into the Disavow Tool.

How to find your site’s best backlinks

It’s always a good idea to know which of your backlinks are good, so you can know what helps you the most with SEO. The more quality links your site will have, the more traffic Google will send to your site.

The best option to find your best links for SEO is to look for sites that are dofollow and have a Domain Authority higher than 40. After applying this filter, click on “G visits”, to sort the links by the number of visits each has sent to your site. Note that this is available only if you’ve connected your domain with Google Analytics.

The backlinks that are sending the most traffic to your site are usually legit sites with real users that Google values a lot. Nonetheless, some backlinks are great for SEO, even if they haven’t sent much traffic.

Conclusion

Backlinks analysis is essential for any site owner that wants to get more traffic from Google. When you find a bad link for SEO, try to remove it and then disavow it.

Over the years, backlinks have remained the most important ranking factor in most search engines, and some Googlers have confirmed several times that this is not going to change in the coming years.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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