What are backlinks?

Backlinks enable you to keep track of other pages on the web that link to your posts. For instance, suppose Alice writes a blog entry that Bob finds interesting. Bob then goes to his own blog and writes a post of his own about it, linking back to Alice’s original post. Now Alice’s post will automatically show that Bob has linked to it, and it will provide a short snippet of his text and a link to his post. What it all works out to is a way of expanding the comment feature such that related discussions on other sites can be included along with the regular comments on a post.

What are the elements of a thorough backlinks analysis:

  1. Total number of links
  2. Number of unique domains
  3. Linking domains vs total links
  4. Anchor text usage and variance – branded, keyword rich, etc.
  5. Fresh/incoming links
  6. Page performance
  7. Link quality*

The Importance of Link Portfolios

A link portfolio (or profile) is a fancy way of saying all the sites currently linking to your site. Links matter. Big time.

So, when you run a backlink analysis on a site – whether it’s your own or a competitor’s – you’re looking at the websites linking to that website, in what manner, and to what page.

And, since we understand Google’s algorithmic reliance on links, we know that a website’s ability to rank in Google is largely dependent on the websites linking to it (i.e., its backlink portfolio).

So, before you can even begin to consider a link building campaign you need to understand the site’s current link portfolio.

Getting Started

To start, you simply go to your chosen tool’s website and plug in the target website’s URL. This will immediately take you to an overview page, in which the target website’s backlinks are summarized in full.

I highly recommend that if this is your first time ever using a backlink explorer, you take 30 minutes to an hour and simply click around and familiarize yourself with the various tabs, graphs, functions, filters, etc.

Being comfortable with the tool is extremely important in understanding the data it can reveal, as well as the implications therein.

Once you’ve acclimated to your new SEO tool, the first element you should analyze of the site’s backlink portfolio is the total number of links.