Over 92 percent of internet users in the United States use search engines, according to Pew Internet Research. That means search engine optimization needs to be an integral part of your internet marketing strategy. With new algorithm updates from Google called Panda and Penguin, doing an occasional backlink check became more than just a good way to do analysis. For many websites, it's now absolutely critical to check backlinks if you want to avoid negative consequences. Keep reading this guide to find out why doing a backlink check is one of the best things you can do to improve your search rankings.
#1: Getting Rid of the “Unnatural Links” Warning
If you've already received an email from Google that warns you about a high percentage of what it calls “unnatural links,” you need to do a backlink check as soon as possible. Every so often, since rolling out its new Penguin update to decrease the prevalence of “over optimization,” Google will check backlinks for your website. If too many appear to be from dubious sources—for example, low quality article marketing websites—Google will send you this warning and may penalize your search rankings.
When you perform a backlink check on your website, you may see a wide range of links. In some cases, if that range is too wide, Google may see these backlinks as being artificially created. If you check backlinks to your website and find that many of the sites linking to you have very little to do with the topics covered by your site, you may want to ask for the links to be removed.
Often, when law firms get the unnatural links warning, it's because they violated Google's Webmaster Guidelines by paying for backlinks. In order to avoid this kind of situation, it's very important not only to check backlinks, but also to make sure you're following those guidelines in the future. Don't purchase huge numbers of backlinks for cut-rate prices—you'll get what you pay for, in the form of low-quality links that Google ignores or worse.
#2: Getting Rid of Bad Backlinks
Even if you have never purchased a backlink in your life, it's still possible that your website has bad backlinks that could look like paid for or irrelevant linking. Performing a backlink check shows you where those links are and what percentage of your total links they constitute.
While you check backlinks, you may discover that you have a huge number of links to websites you didn't even know were linking you. Some backlink check tools will help you to assess whether the links you've gotten are high or low quality, and whether you should ask the webmaster who controls those backlinks to remove them.
Keep in mind that there's no reason to be afraid of Penguin if your backlink check reveals just a few bad backlinks out of many good links. Google's algorithm already takes into account the fact that just about any website could have some bad links. It's only if you check backlinks and a significant percentage of your links are already poor quality that you need to worry.
#3: Understanding Your Reach
Sometimes, law firms don't even understand exactly where their reach extends to. With a backlink check, you can see who's linking your website and how far your reach really goes. You may find when you check backlinks that you are being linked by many websites with a particular focus, or that something you wrote generated a huge number of backlinks in a short time—even on high prestige websites.
Once you've looked at your reach, it's much easier to figure out where you need to advertise and what kind of advertisements might work best. This is a great way to use your backlink check to inform other parts of your marketing and advertising strategy.
#4: Creating New Backlink Opportunities
If you notice during your backlink check that you've had a great deal of success getting backlinks from a particular type of website or blog, that's great news. It means that after you check backlinks, you may want to try talking to the owners of other websites or blogs that have similar content. This can help you to generate new, high quality, contextual backlinks.
For example, let's say that you notice several different articles on your website (for a law firm of divorce attorneys usually representing wives) being re-linked on many different domestic violence information websites mentioning restraining orders, temporary restraining orders, and how to leave an abusive situation. This lets you know that you may want to specifically seek out other sites like this, for guest posts or new backlinks.
#5: Checking Your Anchor Text
One of the other things that you may want to look for when you check backlinks is how similar the anchor text is for your various links. When Google sees a huge number of links that all have identical anchor text, this is considered to usually be a sign that someone is engaging in link buying or other shady link building practices.
Some backlink check tools allow you to spot when too many links have the same anchor text, while with others you'll have to check this manually. If you see a lot of identical text when you check backlinks, ask webmasters to change the link text on some of these websites.
How To Get Bad Links Removed
If your backlink check gives you a pile of bad links to have removed, you're going to have to contact a lot of different webmasters. Often, webmasters will take down a link that is negatively impacting your search engine performance without another word. However, some will outright refuse, won't acknowledge your message, or will demand payment.
If any of these things happen after you check backlinks, don't panic. Instead, document your correspondence including dates and times of emails and send it to Google. Google can actually review your documentation and may allow your website's rank to increase again even with a large number of bad links if this happens.