What Is a Backlink Profile and Why Should You Care?

Whether you realize it or not, every website in the world has a backlink profile. Simply put, a backlink profile is a summary of all the external backlinks that point to your website; you can use a backlink checker to analyze the number, quality, and location of all your existing backlinks. But why does your backlink profile matter? And how much time should you spend analyzing your backlink profile?

Backlinks and SEO

To understand the importance of a backlink profile, we first need to understand the importance of backlinks. Backlinks are most commonly discussed with relevance to search engine optimization (SEO), but they also carry a number of positive effects outside of SEO as well.

When Google and other search engines attempt to rank content in their search engine results pages (SERPs), they typically consider both the relevance of individual pages (i.e., whether their content matches the context of the query) and their trustworthiness. Obviously, search engines are incentivized to rank trustworthy content higher than untrustworthy content. So how can you tell which content on the internet is inherently more trustworthy?

The answer is complicated, but backlinks play a heavy role. The foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm is PageRank, a system that evaluates the trustworthiness (or “authority”) of both domains and individual pages based on the quality and quantity of links pointing to them.

On a basic level, the more links a domain has, and the better those links are, the higher the pages of that domain are going to rank. That’s why so many search engine optimizers practice link building regularly; they’re interested in establishing the best links they can to increase their chances of ranking in search engines. As an added benefit, links are a great way to generate referral traffic and brand visibility.

In practice, backlinks are more complicated than this. Google also wants to weed out people who are intentionally manipulating their rankings, so the quality and context of links must be taken into consideration as well. “Bad” links, which lack context or are hosted on spammy websites, can actively work against you.

Still, as you’re building backlinks in an effort to increase your site’s authority, it’s helpful to have a tool to help you analyze your backlink profile. This way, you can see all the links you’ve currently built (and the links you’ve naturally earned), and you can make decisions about how you want to alter your strategy moving forward.

What’s Included in a Backlink Profile?

Using a backlink checker gives you access to your backlink profile—but what’s typically included in a backlink profile?

Oftentimes, you’ll see a breakdown of the following information:

  • Your current domain authority. Most backlink checkers try to estimate your domain’s perceived trustworthiness as a quantitative score. This way, you can easily track your progress over time.

  • Number of backlinks. As you might expect, you’ll also see a breakdown of your current number of backlinks.

  • Number of referring domains. In addition to this, you’ll see the number of referring domains currently pointing to your domain. Greater diversity of referring domains is usually correlated with higher domain authority.

  • Quality scores of backlinks and referring domains. Many tools also assign a quality score to your backlinks, and to the referring domains in your backlink profile.

  • Recommended actions. In some cases, you may also see automatically generated recommendations for actions you can take to improve your profile.

Benefits of Using a Backlink Checker

Why would you want to use a backlink checker?

Usually, people have one or more of these motivations:

  • Identifying and removing bad links. First, practitioners want to identify and remove any link that might be working against them. Occasionally, you’ll run into spammers who have built your link in a bad way without your permission. More often, you’ll suffer from bad links you mistakenly built early on in your link building efforts. Either way, rooting out these bad links is a beneficial move.

  • Looking for new link building opportunities. Scanning your backlink profile is also a great way to discover new link building opportunities. Which publishers have been the most accepting of your links? Which ones are generating the most value? Are there other publishers like these that you can use?

  • Analyzing the competition. You can also use a backlink checker to analyze the backlink profile of a competitor’s site, rather than your own. If you do this, you’ll be able to see all the links they’ve built and earned—and you can learn from their strategy.

Your backlink profile matters more than you realize, and it exists even if you haven’t built any backlinks intentionally. Spend some time analyzing your backlink profile with a backlink checker, and reevaluate your link building and SEO strategy overall. 

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