Understanding Your Sites Backlinks and Trust

In this tip, we’re going to looks at understanding your sites backlinks and trust signals. Understanding the way people link to, share, and engage with your content is important because these are the most significant factors in driving traffic to your site and earning repeat visits. There are a couple of tools we’ll be using in this video including Social Crawlytics, Open Site Explorer, and Google Analytics. We’ll also be looking quickly at the Google Disavow tool. We’ll keep everything in this video quick and easy to understand, however, if you want to try more advanced options, you can stop the video and play around with the data available in each of the tools at any time.

There are a few ways of observing and monitoring a site’s value and trustworthiness. These include social shares, user engagement with the site and the quantity and quality of backlinks. Social shares are a good indication of how users perceive a site’s quality. You can review the social shares on your site using a tool like Social Crawlytics. Obtaining more social shares is generally a good indication that users find the content on your site useful or in some way interesting. Once they don’t have any unique value in terms of SEO, they can result in a great deal of referral traffic towards your site. While links are accessible and followed by Google, they can also pass standard link value. If you’re looking to try and increase the number of social shares, you should make sure you have a plan in place for creating unique and interesting content for your users. You should also start building a social media presence so that you have a regular audience for your content. This will also help increase the reach of your content, meaning more people interacting with your brand.
Another useful set of metrics for understanding of size value for users are those related to user engagement on your site. You can see this data on Google Analytics. A couple of things you might want to focus on include bounce rate, which shows where users only visit one page, and then take no further action. Time on site, which is a good indication of how users initially perceive the value of your content, and exit rate, which shows which pages and losing users. Each of these can give you a rough idea of how your site is meeting the user needs and can help you identifying problem areas that need fixing.

Although user engagement is primarily an issue of user retention and conversion, there is some suggestion that it might be a factor in search ranking with users remaining on your site, instead of returning to search being a signal that your site has fulfilled the query that the user was asking. If you’re trying to improve your user engagement metrics, you should make sure your site loads quickly and again that you’re producing regular and engaging content for your users and sharing on social media.

Links are important for several reasons. They can drive referral traffic to your site and help increase brand awareness. They’re also one of the most important signals in Google’s ranking algorithms. This means that if a site is to rank well in search results, it needs to have positive signals coming from its backlinks. This is something which some marketers have tried to fake, however, with various updates, Google has made to its algorithms. It has become more difficult and risky for businesses to do this. It’s important for marketers to be able to understand their site’s backlinks, and what to do if there are any problems with them.

A tool which can help with this process is Open Site Explorer. There are similar tools like Majestic SEO and the HyTrust which are better for some tasks, however, Open Site Explorer has an easy-to-use interface which is helpful when you’re just starting out. A couple of things to check out are Domain Authority, Page Authority, Anchor Text and the compelling Metrics Tab. Domain and Page Authority are a summary of the number and quality of the backlinks pointing towards your site. They’re a measure out of a hundred and a rough summary of the level of trust that can be gained from links. HubSpot has a domain authority of 90 which is pretty high.

Anchor Text is text that is used in a link pointing towards your site. These are a signal to Google at the meaning of your site. They have also been misused in the past and over-optimization of anchor text is a common cause of link related penalties. You can see how the site is linked to any anchor text tab and natural link profile will typically be linked to a variety of anchor texts and a greater percentage of branded or naked URLs and other types of anchor text. If your site has too much anchor text with words like buy product online, it’s a pretty good sign that someone has been attempting to manipulate search results and present service to the business. In this case, it can be useful to attempt to modify, remove, or disavow those links. I’ll explain more about later.

Using Open Site Explorer, you can also view and compare your site to that of your competitors. Open and compare your link metrics tab, and add a competitor in Add URL section. When comparing metrics, you might want to look at page authority, domain authority and most trust. It can also be useful to look at the number of links a competitor has. The more isn’t always better and can be an indication your competitor has been building artificial links towards that site.

With this information, you can get an idea of where your site might need to improve or where there are risks in your business. In the event that you find, your site might be at the risk of a link related penalty, you’ll need to do a link analysis. The best way to do this is download all of your links from Open Site Explorer and Webmaster tools and use thing like anchor text and the authority of the linking page to determine which should be removed. This can be a time consuming process and will require some manual review. Once you have a list of the links you think need to be removed, you’ll need to try and contact the site owners to remove them. This won’t always be successful, and you may need to use the Google disavow tool to tell Google to ignore those links. This process can be complicated and its recommended to speak to an expert before removing or disavowing any links.

With all the factors mentioned in this video tip, it’s important to remember that they can’t be fate. Building real user engagement and making sure the site is useful and entertaining is the only long term strategy for improving your site’s rankings.

Chris is Director of Organic Search for Reprise Melbourne.