How To Do A Backlink Audit

In the ever-evolving world of SEO, backlinks remain critical for online visibility and ranking on search engines. To understand your backlink profile better, performing a backlink audit is indispensable.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the realm of backlink audits, why they’re important, the tools you can use, and how often you should be conducting them.

What Is a Backlink Audit?

In the vast digital landscape, websites constantly interlink, creating massive connections. Each link pointing towards your website is a vote of confidence in the eyes of search engines – but not all votes are equal.

A backlink audit systematically evaluates these incoming links to determine their quality, relevance, and potential impact on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance.

Components of a Backlink Audit

Link Analysis

At its core, an audit will give you a comprehensive list of all the websites linking to yours. This includes understanding the quantity of backlinks and the domains from which they originate.

Quality Assessment

Not all backlinks are beneficial. Some can be from low-quality or spammy websites. An audit differentiates between high-quality, neutral, and harmful links.

Relevance Check

A relevant backlink originates from a website with content related to yours. For instance, if you run a health blog, a backlink from a medical institution holds more weight than one from a car dealership.

Anchor Text Review

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Evaluating anchor texts can help identify over-optimized patterns or potentially spammy tactics that could be detrimental to your SEO.

Link Type Classification

It’s also crucial to determine the type of link: whether it’s “do-follow” (passing SEO value) or “no-follow” (not passing SEO value).

Why Perform a Backlink Audit?

A complete link audit provides a holistic view, revealing how your backlink profile stacks up against the competition. In the multifaceted realm of digital marketing and SEO, comprehending your backlink profile is just as vital as understanding your audience.

A backlink audit isn’t just a routine check; it’s a strategic endeavor to align your website with the best SEO practices. Here are the reasons why a backlink audit should be an integral part of your SEO regimen:

Maintain a Healthy Backlink Profile

Just as a doctor’s check-up can spot potential health issues before they become serious, a backlink audit assesses the health of a site’s backlinks. Not all links pointing to your website are beneficial; some can be downright harmful.

Regularly monitoring and pruning your backlink profile ensures that the link juice flowing to your site is clean and beneficial.

Protect from Google Penalties

Search engines, especially Google, have become increasingly stringent about the types of links they deem valuable. A spammy backlink or an unnatural surge in backlinks can trigger penalties, drastically affecting your site’s rankings.

Regular backlink audits can help you identify and rectify issues before escalating.

Enhance SEO and Rankings

One of the primary objectives of a link-building campaign is to improve a site’s search engine optimization (SEO). A backlink audit ensures that your efforts are steering in the right direction.

You can focus on strategies that boost your rankings by distinguishing high-quality backlinks from low-quality ones.

Measure the Effectiveness of Your Link-Building Campaign

Measuring its effectiveness is imperative if you’re actively engaging in a link-building campaign. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can gauge backlink traffic.

However, a deeper dive through a backlink audit can provide insights into the quality of these links and their actual impact on your digital presence.

Identify Negative SEO Attacks

Unfortunately, the digital realm is not devoid of malpractices. Competitors or malicious entities might engage in negative SEO attacks, creating a flood of spammy backlinks pointing to your site.

These harmful links can go unnoticed without regular audits, leading to deteriorated rankings and potential penalties.

Low-Quality or Spammy Links

Not every site linking to you is beneficial. Some such links, especially from spammy or unrelated domains, can harm your website’s credibility in the eyes of search engines.

Negative SEO Attack

There are instances when competitors or malicious entities engage in negative SEO tactics, which include building low-quality or spammy links to your site to damage its reputation. Regular audits can help you spot and counteract these malicious attempts.

Optimize Link Juice Distribution

Backlink audits allow you to see who links to you and which pages they’re linking. This provides insights into how link juice is distributed across your site.

Backlinks can be futile when directed toward pages with minimal or no organic search traffic. If vital pages fail to secure valuable backlinks, it’s crucial to recalibrate your link-building strategies accordingly, maximizing their impact.

Strategic Planning for Future Link-Building Efforts

Knowledge is power. You can fine-tune future link-building strategies by understanding where your backlinks are coming from, their quality, and their impact.

A backlink audit lays down the groundwork, providing data-driven insights to shape your future campaigns.

Preemptive Action for Algorithm Updates

Search engines occasionally roll out significant algorithm updates that can dramatically impact website rankings. Sites or any web pages with a clean and high-quality backlink profile are generally less susceptible to negative fluctuations during these updates.

Regular audits prepare you for such shifts.

Backlink Audit Tools

There are multiple tools available to enhance the effectiveness of a backlink audit.

1. SEMrush

SEMrush - DigitalMarites

SEMrush is a comprehensive digital marketing toolkit with a dedicated Backlink Audit Tool. For instance, imagine your website,, has been seeing a sudden drop in its organic rankings.

Using SEMrush’s Backlink Audit Tool, you input your domain and get a comprehensive report highlighting several suspicious links from spammy health forums and unrelated sites like Using the tool, you can quickly compile these harmful links and create a disavow file, instructing search engines to ignore them.

Furthermore, SEMrush suggests potential domains in the health niche for backlink opportunities, enhancing your link-building strategy.

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs - DigitalMarites

Ahrefs boasts one of the largest link databases in the industry, making it a favorite among SEO professionals. For instance, you’re launching a new article about “Mediterranean Diet Benefits” on your health blog.

Using Ahrefs’ Link Intersect feature, you can identify the number of referring domains that have linked to similar articles on competitor sites but haven’t linked to yours. By approaching these domains with your high-quality content, you increase the chances of earning valuable backlinks.

3. Moz’s Link Explorer

Moz's Link Explorer - DigitalMarites

Moz is a reputable name in the SEO world, known for its unique metrics and user-friendly interface.

For instance, after publishing several articles on your website,, you want to evaluate the strength and quality of your newly acquired backlinks. By inputting your domain into Moz’s Link Explorer, you find out your Domain Authority (DA) has jumped from 30 to 40 in the past month.

However, you also spot a high Spam Score on a few links from dubious fitness directories. This insight prompts you to either remove or disavow these links to maintain a healthy backlink profile.

4. SurferSEO

SurferSEO - DigitalMarites

While SurferSEO is predominantly known for on-page analysis, it also provides backlink data. Features include:

  • Offers a visual representation of a website’s backlink profile, highlighting potentially harmful links.
  • Provides insights into anchor text diversity and helps identify over-optimized patterns.

5. Google Search Console

Google Search Console - DigitalMarites

Google Search Console, previously referred to as Google Webmaster Tools, is a complimentary tool provided by Google. It offers invaluable insights straight from the source – the world’s most widely used search engine.

For instance, after receiving an alert from Google about unnatural linking patterns, you log into your Google Search Console account for your online store, Under the ‘Links’ section, you notice an influx of backlinks from unrelated domains such as and

Using the Disavow Tool within the Console, you request Google to ignore these irrelevant and potentially harmful links, safeguarding your site’s reputation.

How to Perform a Backlink Audit: A Step-by-Step Process

Embarking on a basic backlink audit may initially seem daunting, but worry no more! Below are 14 simple steps that even novice SEOs and link builders can easily follow.

Let’s dive in and optimize your website’s link profile with confidence.

Step 1: Gather a List of All Your Backlinks

Use any of the tools mentioned above to extract a list of backlinks pointing to your site. Choose a backlink audit tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Google Search Console to extract a comprehensive list of all the backlinks pointing to your website.

For instance, you own the website After logging into SEMrush and navigating to the Backlink Analytics tool, you export a list of 2,000 domains linking back to your site.

Step 2: Categorize Your Links

Segment the links based on criteria like domain authority, anchor text, follow vs. no-follow, source type (e.g., blogs, forums, news sites), etc.

For instance, from your list of 2,000 backlinks, you identify 500 from travel blogs, 300 from news sites, 200 from travel forums, and 1,000 from miscellaneous sources.

Step 3: Identify and Tag Low-Quality Links

Look for links from low domain authority sites, bad backlinks, dead backlinks, spammy and toxic backlinks, unrelated websites, and sites with high spam scores. There are two primary types of backlinks: Dofollow links and Nofollow links.

Dofollow links transfer authority, while Nofollow links do not. To identify potentially harmful dofollow backlinks to your site, utilize the “Link type” filter on Ahrefs.

For instance, you spot 100 links from websites with a domain authority below 20 and another 50 links from completely unrelated niches like automotive repair or finance. These are tagged as “low quality” in your audit spreadsheet.

Step 4: Evaluate Anchor Text Distribution

Review the anchor texts used for your backlinks. A natural profile will have a diverse mix of brand names, naked URLs, and various keywords.

Let’s say out of your 2,000 backlinks, you notice that 400 of them use the anchor text “cheap eco travels.” This over-representation of a single keyword might seem unnatural to search engines and could be a potential red flag.

Step 5: Detect and Document Lost Backlinks

Using your backlink tools, identify any valuable links that you might have recently lost. For instance, you discover that a prominent travel magazine that was previously linked to your “Sustainable Tourism Practices” article has removed its link.

By documenting this, you open up the possibility of reconnecting with lost backlinks. Additionally, if your internal pages have few links pointing, it might be beneficial to implement a well-planned content marketing campaign that generates more backlinks for your deeper pages.

This proactive approach can significantly enhance the visibility and authority of your website.

Step 6: Compare Your Profile with Competitor’s

To enhance your link-building strategy, analyze the backlink profiles of leading competitors. This will help identify any gaps or opportunities that exist.

Additionally, consider leveraging other backlink analysis tools to evaluate your existing portfolio. You notice that a competitor,, has multiple backlinks from eco-friendly product brands.

This inspires you to collaborate with similar brands, creating content aligning with your missions.

Step 7: Plan a Link Removal or Disavow Strategy

For harmful or low-quality backlinks, decide whether to contact the website owner for removal or to disavow links via Google Search Console. For instance, you choose to contact the owners of 50 unrelated websites or broken links requesting linked page removal.

For the other 100 low-quality sites, you compile a disavow file and submit it to Google, instructing the search engine to ignore these links.

Step 8: Document and Review

Once your audit is complete, document your findings, insights, and action points. This documentation will serve as a reference for future audits and link-building strategies.

Let’s say you create a comprehensive report detailing the current state of your backlink profile, the steps taken during the audit, potential areas of concern, and future link-building strategies tailored for

Step 9: Analyze Link Velocity

Monitor the rate at which you’re acquiring or losing backlinks. Rapid spikes or drops can be indicative of manipulative practices or technical issues.

For instance, upon reviewing your link acquisition rate, you notice a sudden surge of 500 new backlinks in just a week. On investigating, you realize a piece of your content went viral on social media.

While this is good news, understanding the reason for such spikes helps ensure they are organic traffic and not due to spammy link-building practices.

Step 10: Keep an Eye on the Deep Link Ratio

Assess how many backlinks point to your homepage versus other pages (deep links). A natural link profile audit process usually contains substantial deep links.

For, while your homepage has a substantial 1,000 backlinks, your individual blog posts and pages collectively have only 300. Future content strategies could promote deep linking by creating link-worthy, shareable content on specific topics to balance this out.

Step 11: Monitor Backlink Relevancy

Ensure that the context of the site or content linking to you is relevant to your niche or industry. For intance, you discover 30 backlinks from a site focused on heavy machinery.

This lack of relevancy can dilute the topical trustworthiness of your site. It may be worth reaching out to request link removal or adding them to your disavow list.

Step 12: Establish a Regular Backlink Audit Routine

Based on the size and nature of your website, set a routine (monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually) to perform backlink audits. Given the dynamic nature of your travel industry and the regular content updates on, you decide to conduct a backlink audit every quarter to stay on top of your site’s backlink profile.

Step 13: Incorporate Feedback Loops

After each audit, take note of any challenges faced, areas of improvement, and new strategies adopted. This feedback will help refine your next audit.

For instance, you realized that manually checking anchor text distribution was time-consuming. For the next audit, you decide to use a tool that visualizes anchor text distribution, speeding up the process.

Step 14: Educate and Train Your Team

Ensure that your content creators, SEO team, and digital marketers are informed about the importance of a healthy backlink profile. Let’s say you organize a monthly catch-up with your content team at to discuss the importance of natural link-building, how to spot potential link opportunities, and how to avoid practices that can attract low-quality links.

How Often Should You Conduct a Backlink Audit?

The total number of backlinks audits largely depends on the size of your website and the rate at which you acquire new links. However, as a general guideline:

  • Large Websites or E-commerce sites: Every 2-3 months.
  • Medium-sized websites: Every 4-6 months.
  • Small websites or blogs: At least once a year.

Bottom Line

Mastering the art of conducting a backlink audit is crucial for any website owner or digital marketer aiming to enhance their online presence. It’s the key to uncovering both the strengths and weaknesses of your site’s link profile, ultimately leading to improved authority and higher search engine rankings.

When it comes to professional SEO services and expert guidance in conducting backlink audits, Digital Marites stands out as a trusted provider. With their proven track record and deep industry knowledge, they can help you navigate the complex world of backlinks, ensuring that your website achieves its full potential in the digital landscape.

Don’t miss the opportunity to harness the power of backlink audits; partner with Digital Marites for effective SEO solutions and stay ahead of the competition.


What is a toxic link?

A toxic link from a suspicious or spammy website can harm your website’s SEO and ranking.

What is the disavow tool?

Google’s disavow tool allows webmasters to inform the search engine that they do not want specific backlinks considered when assessing their site.

How long does it take to see results after a backlink audit?

Changes in rankings after cleaning up your backlink profile can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on various factors like crawl rate.

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