Running a backlink report is the first step toward a healthy link profile.
It’s your chance to make sure everything is running smoothly, from the inside out.
You can spot the problems that need special attention before things get out of hand.
The whole point here is, you’ll be able to identify problems and opportunities to do things better.
Anyway, here’s a look at how a backlink report is the key to taking on competitors, boosting SEO and improving underperforming content.
We’ll walk you through generating your own backlink reports—with Monitor Backlinks, since obviously that’s the tool that we use for this task—and how to apply the insights from backlink reports to your SEO projects.
If you’re not already a Monitor Backlinks user but want to give this a try, you’re welcome to take advantage of our 30-day free trial. This will give you full access the entire Monitor Backlinks tool (including reporting) so you can get create and download your first backlink reports for free.
What’s in a Good Backlink Report?
First things first. A backlink report needs to contain some key elements in order to give you the insights you need to really start improving your SEO game.
Total Number of Links
Take inventory. The first step toward building a healthy backlink profile is knowing how many links you have, where they’re pointing to and which pages need some extra love.
Look, there’s no right number to aim for when it comes to backlinks. Especially given the fact some links provide more so called “link juice” than others. A tiny local newspaper doesn’t pull the same weight as the New York Times.
Broken Links and Other UX Errors
Obvious, but actionable nonetheless: Broken backlinks (from other sites pointing in) can hurt your overall SEO score.
If you don’t run backlink reports regularly, you’ll run into these kinds of things here and there, but you’ll probably end up missing most of them. You’ll never know when that awesome, authoritative website decided to slap a nofollow tag on your link, or accidentally broke the URL during a post update.
While it might not seem like such a big deal, if you’ve got a modest collection of backlinks, a few bad apples can spoil your overall profile.
And, let’s be honest. If your links don’t work, your web visitors will absolutely take notice. TL/DR: It’s a bad look.
You’ll need to take a good look at anchor text. Is it varied, natural, rich in keywords?
Irrelevant anchor text—and even over-optimized anchor text—can tank your SEO efforts, so running a backlink report can give you insights into where your domain is being used inappropriately, and give you the space to act on it.
Quality of Links
Quantity and quality both come into play here. Monitor Backlinks connects with your Majestic, Moz and Google accounts, so you’ll quickly be able to get a snapshot of where your links are coming from and where they rank within these various metrics.
Potential for Link Penalties
Yes, link penalties are a real threat to your website.
Running a backlink report allows you to spot things like scraper sites and negative SEO harming your site without your knowledge.
How to Generate a Complete Backlink Report with Monitor Backlinks
To get started with the website, you’ll first need to input your domain, the keywords you’d like to rank for, along with the domains of your competitors.
Ideally, you’ll want to connect your Google Analytics account to get fully set up:
Once you’re in, click on the Backlinks tab (where you’ll find most of your info) or go to Reports and customize from there.
The first thing you’ll see is your dashboard, which gives you a look at any status changes, links your competitors have added and a look at how your keywords are performing.
Competitive Backlink Profile
It’s not enough to see where your own website stands, it’s about gathering that juicy backlink intel on your competitors.
The competitive analysis reveals opportunities for new links and provides a fresh look at the type of content you need to add or improve to boost your rankings.
In short, you don’t want to mess around when it comes to building a competitive report. Lucky for you, Monitor Backlinks comes with a pretty straightforward way to take stock of all this stuff.
Finally, you’ll also want to make sure you’re continuing to keep tabs on new, incoming competitor links. This is a source of potential sites that might link to you in the future. So, undoubtedly important, right?
Your Actual Reports Tab
I’d be remiss in covering reports if we didn’t take a look at the Monitor Backlinks Reports tab. What you’ll find here is a collection of reports that cover various metrics from your Moz and Majestic scores to things like anchor text and link status.
Within this tab, you’ll see a few different report templates, which may be adjusted with the filters on the right-hand side.
Here’s a look at what you’ll find here:
- Moz and Majestic reporting — Both reports give you a breakdown of links according to score. If you’d like to weed out all options with a poor reputation, you can opt to only view backlinks with a Moz Score over 40.
- Anchor text insights — Getting a read on your anchor text gives you an idea of how Google sees your website.
- Link status — Break down links by follow or nofollow, 404 errors and disavowed.
- TLD and Server Country — TLD, or top-level domain, refers to the extensions your backlinks sources use—are they coming from .com, .edu, .ca, .gov. This can give you a sense of whether you’re reaching your target audience, as well as the reputation—i.e., a .edu can be a good reputation booster for your site.
- Top-linked pages — See where your backlinks are coming from. Aside from including the link source, this report breaks down your links by their follow or nofollow status.
Downloading a Report
Now, the reports I mentioned above only show the top links in that Reports dashboard. If you’d like to drill down and see all links, in say the IP Location Distribution report, simply click on that little gear icon and choose “export full CSV.”
You’ll then be presented with a spreadsheet with the complete list of URLs linking to your site with information about their IP locations. It’s just that easy.
So, You’ve Got Your Backlink Report, Now What?
Now that you’ve got your backlink profile in place, it’s time to take action. Here are just some of the ways you can use your backlink report to improve the condition of your site.
Improve Your Keyword Research
You now have a sense of how your keywords are doing, and how your competitors are ranking for the same search terms. Your backlink profile may reveal spaces where you’ve neglected certain phrases.
In Monitor Backlinks, you’ll be able to take a quick look at how your keywords are doing—whether they’re rising or falling, as well as how they rank compared with your competition.
Like maybe you wrote a blog post on a topic a couple of years back and haven’t touched that subject matter since.
Well, chances are, your competitors are surpassing you in that arena. It’s time to get some updated, high-quality content on the books.
Get Anchor Texts in Tip Top Shape
Irrelevant anchor text, keyword stuffing, or too many bad links can get you in trouble with search engines and cause your backlink profile to suffer.
Obvious anchor text is one of the bigger problems you might uncover during your backlink audit. Usually, the offending anchors are commercial texts placed awkwardly within the content. They stand out, as they don’t really fit with the surrounding text.
The other issue is too many duplicate anchors. Granted, these links are meant to promote your site, so there’s only so many options, but you’ll want a little diversity. About a quarter of your links should be your URL, but make sure the others refer to your brand name or relevant topics.
The point is, too much “sameness” gives Google the impression that something fishy is going on.
Disavow Bad Links
Back to the baddies. While it may be better to ask those irrelevant or low-quality sites to remove the backlink or links in question, sometimes the webmaster isn’t responsive.
If this is the case, you can disavow right inside the Monitor Backlinks platform. Simply open the “backlinks tab” and select the checkbox next to the “bad link” on the left-hand side of the page.
Pull the trigger by clicking “disavow” in the drop-down menu. Easy as that. You’ll then be able to download a spreadsheet with the approved formatting to upload right to Google’s Disavow tool. All the heavy lifting has been done for you!
Come Up with an Outreach Plan Based on Your Competitive Analysis
Opening up the competitors’ tab in the Monitor Backlinks program gives you a snapshot of where your competitors are getting their links from. Create a customized report inside the tool, and from there make a plan to get into contact with the site owner.
Chances are, sites linking to competitors will find your content is useful, too. So long as your content is as relevant and high quality as your rivals’ content.
It’s strange that the backlinks portion of SEO doesn’t get as much love as the other aspects of our craft. Maybe it’s not as buzzy as local search, or as tangible as writing content for your website.
But, backlink reports are your physicals or your six-month teeth cleaning appointments. They might not be your favorite part of the digital marketing equation, but they expose underlying problems with your site and light up the pathways to potential solutions.
The data you uncover serves to inform your content strategy—from revealing sources for new backlinks to helping you weed out the riff-raff that’s holding you back.