SEO is a pretty complicated subject, but not as difficult as astrophysics or software engineering (in my opinion).
Getting an understanding of the key terminology will put you in a much better position.
What is a Backlink Profile in SEO?
So, what is a backlink profile and how does it have an impact on your ability to rank well organically?
In layman’s terms, a backlink profile is the collection of hyperlinks that point directly at your website from other sites all across the internet.
These hyperlinks pointing at your website are better known as inbound links, incoming links, backlinks, or simply “links”.
Why are Backlinks Important for SEO?
Your backlink profile is important in SEO because it can directly influence the perceived authority, relevance, and trustworthiness of your website in the eyes of search engines. To people who aren’t familiar with SEO, this may sound stupid, but we always explain it like this.
If you were reading an article and you found out that Forbes, CNN, and Business Insider had quoted the website previously.
Would you be pleased? Of course, you would! These are highly trusted and respected websites.
Hence, that’s why it’s important for new websites to build up a backlink profile consisting of backlinks from authoritative websites.
It’s often mentioned (for good reason) in SEO articles that Google considers backlinks as a vote of confidence. This is largely true. The correlation between backlinks and ranking is significant – more on that later.
Search engines don’t just look at each new backlink in isolation though, they look at your entire backlink profile. These algorithms are incredibly complicated, but having lots of strong backlinks is a good indicator that your website is a valued and trusted resource.
But, backlinks aren’t unanimously good. They can be bad sometimes too.
Some websites will have a significant number of low-quality links pointing to their domain. You won’t be rewarded for these backlinks!
However, if you do get low-quality backlinks don’t stress it too much. Google has said that they will ignore all “toxic” backlinks now.
This is good for website owners.
Even, those who have not been participating in link-building schemes are vulnerable to having their profiles look like this:
You see the proportion of followed links! This looks unnatural. However, the reason for this is that the majority of the site’s backlinks are coming from scraper sites (which Google ignores).
In reality, this website has a good backlink profile, so don’t worry too much about “bad links”.
Analyze Your Backlink Profile
Analyzing your backlink profile is key in SEO.
Every now and then, make it part of your SEO strategy to go into your preferred SEO tool and do a deep dive analysis on the quality of your backlinks.
This is also the best way to identify areas for improvement and find awesome link-building opportunities.
If you’re new to SEO, then there are several tools you can use to analyze your backlink profile. Beginners looking to save money can use Google Search Console or Ahrefs Free Backlink Checker. However, there are more premium tools on the market like Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, and of course, my favorite, SEMrush!
What Makes a Strong Backlink Profile?
In these tools, there are several key metrics you will be able to find that need to be analyzed when looking at the overall backlink profile.
Number of Backlinks
Although, quality always beats quantity… that doesn’t mean quantity doesn’t matter.
The number of backlinks you have will usually correlate with your ranking capability.
Although, a small number of high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites can indeed have a greater impact than a large number of low-quality backlinks.
However, typically when you get high-quality links you will get loads of low-quality ones at the same time (but that’s a whole different article). Ultimately, you want to be looking for positive growth in the overall number of backlinks you have over a given time period.
These are not the same. Referring domains (RD) refers to the total number of unique domains that link to your website.
Why is this important? Simple, having a diverse range of linking domains indicates that your website is considered valuable and authoritative by a variety of sources.
The more different websites that are linking to you the better. Also, for SEO purposes it’s been shown that the first backlink you receive from a new website carries the most weight.
Backlink quality is subjective and thus difficult to measure (although it doesn’t harm to try). We would recommend looking at the authority score of the websites that are linking to you.
This may be a bit controversial in the SEO world, but generally, a high DA/DR backlink is almost always a good thing. That’s because these backlinks pass a lot of “link juice”
However, relevance plays a huge role in link quality too. For example, if this article was to have backlinks from sites dedicated to SEO and link building that would be awesome. So, generally speaking, backlinks from competitors in your niche are awesome.
The Importance of Anchor Text in Backlink Profiles
Did you think we would forget to mention anchor text?
Of course not! However, it’s so important it deserved its own section (as it’s often misunderstood).
You may be wondering. What the **** is anchor text?
Basically, it’s the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. So, here my anchor text is “anchor text”.
Although, you may have not realized it yet. Anchor text plays a key role in backlink profiles.
Because search engines use anchor text to identify the context and relevance of the linked-to page. Therefore, descriptive and accurate anchor text can have the biggest impact. For example, I would prefer a backlink to this page with the anchor “backlink profile” rather than “backlinking technique”.
So, it makes sense that optimizing anchor text is a key element of any successful backlink strategy. Unfortunately, you don’t have much control over what anchor text your links get.
That’s the beauty of SEO and the laws of averages. Google knows roughly how your anchor text should be distributed. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about it too much.
However, optimized anchor text backlinks can give your articles an additional boost. With that said, it’s important to avoid over-optimization (this is especially true if you’re buying backlinks). Using the same keyword-rich anchor text repeatedly is not very subtle and will appear spammy to search engines.
This can actually hurt your rankings if it’s determined you are trying to manipulate your rankings.
Diversification of Anchors In Your Backlink Profile
As you may have realized, diversifying anchor text is critical, particularly if you are going to be participating in “link building” whether that’s free or paid.
Please don’t use the same anchor text for every backlink, it’s a bad idea.
Instead, opt to use a mixture of different phrases, including branded anchor text e.g. Splinter Economics (common with HARO backlinks), generic anchor text (such as “click here” or “read more”), and anchor text that includes long-tail (extended) variations of your target keywords.
Relevant content is also key. If you’re writing a guest post, don’t try and force your backlink. Say you wanted to link to a page about travel credit cards, don’t try to squeeze that into an article about SEO!
You should maintain a mindset of building high-quality backlinks rather than simply chasing quantity.
Positive Impact Of a Strong Backlink Profile
Now you know all about the impact of having a strong backlink profile, as well as what makes one “good” or “bad”.
It’s time to address the benefits of building up a strong (and powerful) backlink profile.
Firstly, having a few solid backlinks from high-authority websites and media outlets can help you establish tons of credibility in organic search. When you have strong backlinks you will start ranking for search terms more people are asking!
Relevance and topical authority are all the rage in 2023. In previous years, websites with optimized content and a decent link profile could rank for most search queries. Now, Google is keen on showing sites that have established a lot of credibility on a specific topic e.g. link building.
By building a strong backlink profile that consists of highly niche relevant backlinks you can gain an edge over your competitors in terms of topical authority.
Perhaps this is the key benefit to talk about. Better rankings, more clicks, and more visitors on your website. A strong backlink profile helps you rank for competitive search terms. When your rankings improve, people find you more easily, hence more traffic.
Additionally, backlinks can drive referral traffic to your website. This can lead to an improvement in the number of leads you are getting.
Correlation Between Backlinks and Ranking
The correlation between backlinks and ranking is a hotly debated topic in the SEO community.
Many SEOs believe that backlinks are the number one ranking factor, while others argue that things like content quality and user experience play a more significant role. These things matter, don’t get me wrong.
However, at Splinter, we are firmly in team “backlinks”. They are the piece that moves the needle. The strong correlation between the number and quality of backlinks and a website’s rankings and traffic from organic search is undeniable.
This data from the case study performed by SimilarWeb and Moz show a significant correlation between backlinks and referring domains and global traffic.
It’s evident that when evaluating who deserves to rank the highest for a given search query, the number and quality of backlinks pointing to a website can be the overriding factor.
Why do you think Forbes and CNN can rank for anything? It’s not because they have the most topical expertise or the most user-friendly content. It’s because they have a whopping amount of inbound links pointing at their website.
Check this out:
Forbes has 365 million backlinks from 1.3 million different domains. That is insane. Hence, they receive 155 million monthly visits.
Still think backlinks don’t matter…
How to Improve Your Backlink Profile?
So, if you’re still reading, which you are (obviously) you see the importance of backlinks in SEO.
So, here are a few additional tactics you can utilize to improve your backlink profile. These methods won’t yield instant success, but overtime they can have a significant impact.
Target Low-Competition Keywords
When you first establish your SEO strategy, Google doesn’t particularly know/trust/like your website.
So, you need to convince it that you’re an authority. The best way to do that is by writing the most comprehensive and in-depth content possible.
Use a keyword research tool and find some really easy target keywords with a decent amount of search volume. However, even if the search volume is low, don’t worry, you will get way more traffic than you expect (if you rank).
Then, once you have identified a keyword to target, write the best piece of content on the internet. You need to try and blow everyone else out of the water. Additionally, because only low-authority sites are ranking for this keyword you may be able to start ranking on the first page.
This is where the fun starts.
Because content is a key driver of natural backlinks. By creating content that provides value to your target audience, you will attract links from other websites without having to actively seek them out. By including unique case studies, or data in your content you can expect even more backlinks (potentially even from media outlets).
Outreach and Guest Blogging
SEO is about relationships and communication. You need to talk to people in your niche and establish commonalities and talking points. This is a fundamental aspect of white-hat link building.
In doing so you will open up doors to access opportunities. One of the best opportunities is writing content for other websites in your niche. By guest blogging on other websites, you can share knowledge, establish E-A-T, and of course, earn backlinks to your own website.
Through guest blogging, you will be able to earn a healthy mixture of contextual and homepage backlinks. Don’t worry too much about the type of link you receive (although do-follow is better for building authority). However, do worry about the relevancy of the linking page and overall website.
The more relevant and authoritative the website is the better.
We have landed some really awesome backlinks from guest posting and it has helped with lead generation too!
Here’s a guest post I wrote for Wordstream. This post has helped me find a load of new leads in my inbox.
What is a good backlink profile?
How do I know if my backlink profile is good?
Can a bad backlink profile hurt my SEO?
Your backlink profile is critical in SEO.
It is in fact a driving influence on your online visibility. A strong backlink profile can be the difference between an extra few sales a month or an extra $5 million.
It all depends on what your business does, what niche you operate in, and what competitors are doing. However, one thing is for certain, you now have a good understanding of what a backlink profile is and how it impacts your website’s ranking ability.
Armed with this information, I’m confident you can take the necessary steps to improve your backlink profile and drive more traffic to your site.
However, you don’t have to focus on building an awesome natural backlink profile alone. It can be very time consuming and a waste of in-house resources. Instead, consider hiring a company that provides dedicated link-building services like ours.