In “Do Links Matter?” we came to theHow Do I Find Links to My Site conclusion that yes, they do matter.

So, if this is true, how can you get more links for your company’s website? What specific steps must you take in order to audit, solicit, and track the effectiveness of your efforts?

In this post, I’ll start by focusing on the audit aspect. Understanding your current link profile is the most logical way to begin. Let’s go.

Pick Your Tool (Free vs. Paid)

There are many free tools available these days to check your backlinks. I’ve probably used most of them over the past decade or so. In my experience, here are the pros and cons of using a free tool:

Pros of a Free Tool

  • Free – need I say more?
  • Fairly accurate results

Cons of a Free Tool

  • Many rely on pop up ads and aggressive cookies
  • Usually slow to generate a full report (minutes, not seconds)
  • Limited export options
  • One-and-done (no way to save reports for later)

On the other hand, there are multiple software companies that offer premium backlink analysis tools. I’ve tried several, but personally I prefer the SEOprofiler platform. (In this series, we’ll be using screenshots from my SEOprofiler dashboard. If you’d like to sign up for this tool, you can click my affiliate link here for a free trial. Note that if you use this link, I may receive a referral commission. No pressure, of course.) Generally speaking, here are the pros and cons of using a premium (i.e. paid) tool.

Pros of a Premium Tool

  • Greater accuracy in reporting
  • Link influence ranking and prioritization
  • More data points (author contact information, etc.)
  • Customizable reporting dashboards
  • Ongoing monitoring & alerting (email alerts)

Cons of a Premium Tool

  • It ain’t free!
  • Once you’re using it, you’ll likely never quit

If you’re a small business on a tight budget, don’t feel ashamed to use a free tool. I’ve done so myself, and I don’t regret doing so. As your marketing budget expands, however, you should consider upgrading to a more robust toolset. In the next section, I’ll explain why.

Build Your Link Audit

For purposes of simplicity, I’ll assume you’ve chosen to join me as a happy SEOprofiler customer (again, here’s the sign up link for my readers). To get started, navigate to the “Link Profiler” tab and select “Backlinks.”

Backlink Link Profiler

To the right, you’ll notice a search box that asks for a domain to check. Enter your domain and then click the button. In a few moments, a treasure trove of data begins to appear. Just below the search box, you’ll see how many active links you have and other interesting facts. Below the summary section, you can also access filter tools, which allow you to sort and organize the actual inbound link report (which I’ll discuss next).

Get Backlink Data

Analyzing Your Links

Most tools offer a way to benchmark the importance of certain inbound links to your website. In the case of the SEOprofiler tool, the Link Influence Score (LIS) is arguably the most useful data point. Below you’ll see that I’ve sorted the active links to ExecutiveInSweatpants.com (actual links blurred for privacy purposes) from highest to lowest LIS. A score of 99% is nearly perfect (I’ve never seen a score of 100%, but perhaps it is possible).

Link Reporting

If, after running an analysis, you find that you have few quality links, there is obviously work to be done. If you discover a few unexpectedly high LIS links, kudos to you. However, don’t get too comfortable; your competitors are trying to outflank you at this very moment.

What’s Next?

So you now know how to identify who is linking to your website. What should you do next? Unfortunately, most people stop after this step and just assume there’s nothing that can be done. Wrong!

In the next post, we’ll discuss proactive steps to get more quality inbound links.

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Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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