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The process of a link audit

There are a lot of buzzwords and tech jargon in the SEO space, and many myths to dispel. In this series of informative posts, we’ll look at the process of a link audit and why it’s an important task to conduct regularly.

STEP 1: Internal and External

Carrying out a link audit on your website is something that you should do on a regular basis to ensure that when Google checks your site, it likes what it sees. As part of this process, it is essential to look at links from within the site, and also from outside. 

Your internal links are something you have absolute control over, so when auditing them, it is important to check that they are relevant, that they work, and that they are well-optimised. This means ensuring the anchor text of such links is as appropriate as possible, checking that every link points to a page that’s still live (and that it actually goes where it should), and adds value for someone reading your site. In terms of external links, you’re looking to see where most of your backlinks are coming from. These should be coming from sites with positive reputations, as discovered using appropriate SEO tools, and not from link farms, paid link directories or sites with explicit or illegal content. Make a list of unwelcome links – as you’ll soon see, you will need it.STEP 2: Toxicity check

Not all backlinks are created equal. Considering the importance of backlinks to a site’s search ranking, one might think that any backlink is good, from a volume point of view. However, there are some – indeed, many – kinds of backlink that are the very opposite. 

In the process of conducting a link audit, pay careful attention to where your links are coming from. Google doesn’t like links that are hosted on link farms, have obviously been paid for, are part of spam comments on blogs, or are found on sites with illegal or sensitive content. Bear in mind that people can enact “negative SEO” to hurt you, placing your links on such sites. As part of the audit, note down any link that could be considered to be “toxic” in any way. You can report these to Google, or use a tool to “disavow” them, meaning they won’t be considered by the algorithm when ranking your site.STEP 3: DuplicationDuplicate content is something any website should be looking to avoid. A quick look around the internet can leave you with the impression that any duplicate content found as part of an audit will kill your site’s ranking. While this isn’t true, it’s still something you will want to fix wherever you find it. Some content will show up as duplicated because it appears at two URLs connected to your site. If this is the case, you’re not likely to be penalised, but you should look for a way to fix it, because it can split traffic and lead to a less positive ranking. More problematically, you may find that your content has been scraped by another site and is being used without your permission. While this can happen without any major repercussion from you, it is still a good idea to report it where you find it and ask the sites responsible to take it down. At the end of the day, it is better to not have any duplicate content out there.STEP 4: Checking Anchor textsThe anchor text of a link can be one of the most important elements in whether or not that link does its job. Every link in any written content will have anchor text – it’s simply the words that are highlighted and clickable to visit a target page – and there are varying opinions on how you should choose anchor text. Agreed best practice for anchor text states that the words chosen should be descriptive and accurately reflect what is on the page being linked to. If you’re linking to a page about the top goalscorers in the Bundesliga, then “Bundesliga top scorers” is a perfectly applicable anchor text. If you consider the terms a user is likely to search for, these will usually make good anchors. Bear in mind, however, that anchor text that reads awkwardly can harm your ranking, so it is advised to make it look as natural as possible. You should also avoid using anchor text in headings or tables – weaving it into your written content is the key to using anchor text effectively.

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