Backlink Profile: SEO Basics & How To Build Yours




Updated 4/29/2024

Learn about backlink profiles, an essential off-page SEO concept.

backlink profile cover - pages connected by links

What is a Backlink Profile?

A backlink profile is a website’s collection of links from other websites.

For example, a site like YouTube has a gigantic backlink profile, as other websites constantly link to it. By comparison, a small business site usually has a much simpler backlink profile, with a few websites and pages linking to it.

Backlinks are a fundamental concept of off-page SEO. They are traditionally key for better performance in Google Search.

SEO professionals typically analyze backlink profiles to determine website authority, its potential power in organic search. Sites with stronger backlink profiles tend to be more popular, cited often, and rank easier in SERPs.

While backlinks aren’t as important as they used to be, earning links from other sites and building your reputation still has strong traffic and audience benefits.

Let’s check out the backlink profile for the New York Times using the Ahrefs Backlink Checker tool:

backlink profile profile

This tool reports a few things:

These metrics can be useful when determining how competitive a SERP is for a certain keyword. Broader search queries like “shoes” tend to have sites with powerful backlink profiles at the top, while more obscure long-tail keyword queries like “organic vegan hiking shoes” might feature more niche sites.

While the number of backlinks and linking domains are important, they aren’t the only considerations for backlink profiles. The main items include:

  1. Number of backlinks: The total volume of backlinks to a domain. More backlinks generally help improve authority.
  2. Referring domains: The number of unique external domains linking to the site. The diversity of domains matters as a quality indicator. For example, one site can’t send a bajillion backlinks to another and make it rank well in Google.
  3. Type of referring sites: Quality of sites providing backlinks, such as .edu, .gov, or high-traffic sites in the niche.
  4. Anchor text: The words used to hyperlink back. Various anchor text is more natural. Too much of the same anchor text might indicate spam.
  5. Link velocity: The rate at which backlinks accumulate over time. A slow and steady pace is natural, but rapid spikes may be manipulative.
  6. Link location within content: Natural links tend to be embedded within paragraphs of related content, rather than superfluous links like in footers or sidebars. If sites sell links (against Google’s spam policies), they’re likely in the footer or some widget.
  7. Follow vs. nofollow links: Nofollow links don’t pass link equity, so followed links are significantly more important.
  8. Topic relevance: Backlinks from within topically related sites and articles send additional quality signals.

Other considerations might also apply. If you’re ever curious about a particular backlink or pattern, dig into the data and see what you can discover.

Analysis Tools

Many tools exist to help with backlink analysis and off-page SEO efforts. These are the top we recommend:

  • Ahrefs Backlink Checker: A free tool that lets you see the Domain Rating and basic metrics for a domain or URL.
  • Moz Link Explorer: Moz’s version of a backlink profile tool. You’ll need an account, but otherwise, it’s free for simple reports.
  • Semrush Backlink Analytics: Another popular analysis tool that provides rich data with a free account.
  • Google Search Console: The Links report gives insight into what sites link to yours, and what pages are interlinked. Much simpler than the other tools, but integrated with the essential SEO software.

These tools can help you understand a site’s authority and how sites interlink with it. Detailed analysis can reveal opportunities to strengthen your profile.

Building a great backlink profile is about earning trust and recognition from other websites, not spamming inboxes or building false relationships.

Here are some legit and non-spammy ways to strengthen your backlink profile:

  1. Create valuable, informative, and engaging content: This naturally attracts links from websites interested in sharing your knowledge.
  2. Target long-tail keywords: These are less competitive and can help you attract more relevant links. They typically have a lower keyword difficulty, making them easier to rank for.
  3. Publish different content formats: Go beyond blog posts and explore infographics, videos, case studies, and other engaging formats. These tend to be more shareable and thus earn links easier.
  4. Prioritize links from high-authority websites: These carry more weight, so earning them means bigger gains. ?️‍♀️
  5. Guest blogging: Contribute high-quality articles to relevant and high-authority websites related to yours.
  6. Monitor and maintain your profile: Regularly check for broken or spammy backlinks and disavow them if needed.
  7. Participate in online communities: Share your expertise in forums, Q&A sites, and social media groups. Be helpful! Don’t just do it for the link; people can tell. Most forum sites nofollow external links anyway, so engage authentically.
  8. Build relationships with other website owners: Network with professionals in your field and collaborate on content or projects.
  9. Broken link building: Find relevant websites with broken links and offer your content as a replacement.
  10. Social media promotion: Share your content on relevant platforms to increase visibility and potential links.
  11. Avoid spammy tactics: Buying links, link exchanges, or using automated tools can hurt your website in the long run.
  12. Focus on long-term success: Building a strong backlink profile takes time and effort. Be patient and consistent.

How you accomplish these will be up to you, based on your preferred tools and workflows.

Bottom Line

Backlink profiles are a common way to understand a website’s general strength on the web and how easily it can perform well in search engines. To build yours, focus on improving your site, creating quality content, and promoting when reasonable.

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