You spend a lot of time acquiring precious backlinks.
But those backlinks don’t always stick around.
The site you got a link from might no longer be active. (A lot of newbie blogs don’t make it).
Perhaps one of your competitors stole your backlinks. (Those horrible people.)
Whatever the case, a backlink earned does not exist in perpetuity.
You have to check on them and make sure they’re still live…or risk dropping in the rankings.
Want to learn how? Keep reading.
What makes a backlink “live?”
A backlink that’s both active (i.e. visible on a webpage) and indexed by Google is considered “live.”
This means it “counts;” that the backlink is a normal, functional backlink, that it passes link juice, that you can click on it and land on another page, etc.
A backlink that isn’t live—a broken backlink—doesn’t go anywhere. It opens to an error page, or nowhere at all. It doesn’t pass link juice and it’s detrimental to have on your page.
Obviously, you want to have as many live backlinks pointing to your site as possible. (That’s SEO 101, kids.)
But it’s also possible to bring broken links back to life.
And guess what? You can do all that (and more) with Monitor Backlinks. 😉
It’s Alive! How to Check Your Live Backlinks (and Resurrect Some Dead Ones)
So, I’ll be using Monitor Backlinks to take you through this process.
If you don’t have an account of your own to follow along, you can pick up a free trial to enjoy full access to all these features for 30 days, commitment-free.
Now, let’s get started!
How to check on live backlinks
First, fire up the Monitor Backlinks tool (or create an account if you don’t already have one).
Once you’re in, you want to add a new domain. This is done by clicking on the drop-down menu at the top of the page and then “Add New Domain.”
You’ll land on a different page. Here you can choose to add your domain with Google Analytics or without.
For this example, I’m going to add Monitor Backlinks.
The tool will send you to another screen and give you the option of selecting some competitors to target. I’m going to skip this section for now, but we’ll come back to it later on in the post.
After competitors, Monitor Backlinks will ask you to add a few keywords. I’m also going to skip this part of the process, but you can read our thorough guide to keyword tracking here if it’s something you’re interested in.
Okay! Now we’re at the overview screen.
There’s a menu across the top of the screen with a few different options to click on—ignore everything else and click “Backlinks.”
Now we’re at the juicy stuff.
This next screen—which might take a few minutes to load, depending on how many backlinks your site has—shows you exactly how many backlinks you have.
I had to blur our numbers (sorry, I’m no fun), but you should see a similar menu at the top of your screen.
“Links that Google considers” (more commonly called dofollow backlinks) are your live backlinks.
“Links that Google ignores” are still live backlinks…but they’re likely nofollow links.
You can click on any of these numbers to see all the backlinks in that particular category.
Now, you may be thinking…
“Do I have to manually check these numbers every single day?”
No, you don’t. (Hallelujah!) Monitor Backlinks can automatically track all changes to your live backlinks and update you via email, so you don’t even have to lift a finger.
Let’s explore how that works.
Automatic backlink tracking with Monitor Backlinks
From anywhere in the Monitor Backlinks tool, click your account name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. A drop-down menu will appear—click on “Account Settings.”
Click “Notifications” from the Account Settings menu to set up your email preferences.
The first two options—”Daily Backlinks” and “With Changes”—are the most important ones you want to check to keep track of your live backlinks.
Now all you need to do is check your email once a day for the Monitor Backlinks report and act if you’ve lost any backlinks.
…but let’s back up a bit. Why do you want to know when you’ve lost a backlink?
One of two things could have happened to cause you to lose a backlink:
1. There’s no longer a link where that backlink was.
2. That link now points somewhere else (a different site or to some invalid destination).
That’s it. In either case, you can investigate the URL where the old link lived and ask the site owner why their link went from live to broken.
Monitor Backlinks doesn’t automatically ping site owners and ask why they killed a live backlink to your site. We believe that conversation should be held between people. 🙂
(And if you’re wondering why you might lose backlinks, here are five examples of why backlinks go bad.)
How to steal your competitors’ dead backlinks
If your backlinks are in a constant state of flux, chances are your competitors’ are too.
With Monitor Backlinks, you can spy on their backlinks (including those valuable deep links) and plan how to get even more backlinks.
Remember earlier when I told you to skip the “Add Competitors” portion of setup? Let’s return to that now and see what the competition is up to.
On the left-side main menu of the Monitor Backlinks tool, click on “Competitor Links.”
Your screen should look something like this:
Click “Start Adding Competitors” in the middle. A lightbox will appear:
If you have a specific competing website in mind, feel free to enter their domain into the appropriate field in the lightbox and click the large “Add New Competitor” button at the bottom.
If you’re not sure who to spy on, you can click on the empty input field and Monitor Backlinks will tell you who it thinks you should spy on.
I’m always game for a suggestion, so I’m going to try that.
A list of competitors appears, and if you click on any of them, they’ll be automatically added to the input field.
After you add all the competitors you want to track, Monitor Backlinks will dump you onto the Competitor Links dashboard.
You can then click on your competitor’s name to get taken to a table similar to what we saw earlier when looking at our own backlinks.
This is all your competitor’s backlinks. By default, they sort by date, with the most recent at the top.
In that case, you can simply scan the table every day, see which live links you can replicate, and which broken ones you can replace.
You can easily nab a few extra backlinks this way.
…or you can use that email alert feature to get automatic updates on all your competitors’ new links, as well as their broken ones. Your call.
Live backlinks wrap-up
Live backlinks are the only kind of backlink that matters.
But as sites are updated and pages are deleted, you can lose those hard-earned backlinks and drop in the rankings.
Consistently monitoring your backlinks can help you stay on top of the SERPs and tell you when you need to focus on building links to a particular page.
Broken backlinks, on the other hand, are a bit of a pain to deal with.
But by using Monitor Backlinks’ automatic backlink checker, you can consistently monitor both your own website and your competitors’ sites to see who’s gaining live backlinks and who’s losing them.
And then you can try to steal them—which is the fun part.