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Backlink Analysis: How To Do It & What Tools You Need

T-RANKS » Off-Page SEO » Backlink Analysis: How To Do It & What Tools You Need

Strong link building is not a game of luck but rather, a thorough data analysis. Today, one of the processes we are digging into is Backlink Analysis.

Learning the art of Backlink Analysis

You typed in a query on your favorite internet browser and searched for the best pizza recipe. Few taps, few clicks, and as soon as you clicked search, your search results in a matter of milliseconds.

Knowing that there are millions of websites and billions of pages that talk about “best pizza recipe”, have you ever wondered how did the search engine come up to say which is which and show it to the results pages?

Pondering on how the browser works seem to be a crazy thing to do but in reality, it’s not. Everything is based on available data that was qualified and can be quantified to predict how the browser will behave. This is mainly because browsers follow sets of rules that were programmed by humans which we also call as an algorithm.

In this topic, we are going to dissect the process of backlink analysis for us to understand it and do it effectively to boost your website.

Introduction to Backlinks

Everything we want to know or learn always starts with a question and the first question we have today is how search engines give us the SERP given that the web is flooded with tons and tons of different webpages. One of the key elements that affect the SERP are backlinks .

We must understand how backlinks work since this is the very thing we are going to analyze to do our SEO campaigns effectively.

Backlinks are hyperlinks from external websites or pages that point back to your website or page. They are like the referral of other people to says you know the answer to the search query.

As the web is full of intertwined things since it’s the internet, a lot of websites are also pointing to one another that’s why backlinks are very important in boosting your website rankings. But how does this happen in just a matter of seconds? It’s the algorithm that is responsible for doing so.

Here are some key elements of the algorithm that works to get the search results.

Internet Bots

These robots are made to crawl the web. While this is not a physical robot that is tangible, rather, this is a digital bot which is commonly known as web spiders.

These web spiders visit every page, websites, follow every link that is present on every page and website. at the same time, the web spiders gather the data about the pages and sites such as the number of links that lead to every page, where does the trail goes, which site gets the most organic click from search engine users, and many more.

As we’ve set as an example from the previous section, you’ve searched for the best pizza recipe and so, the web spiders will crawl to all websites that talk about it and follow the trail of links on every page it will crawl into.

The internet bot will also keep a record of the number of links attached to it, the number of clicks it receives, and the number of links that points to each page.

Since there’s a repetitive search on the same keywords, the process of showing the result page became faster as web spiders have already stored the data about which pages are the most relevant for every search query done considering the niche, geo-position, and how trending the query is as well as the search engine algorithm has already indexed every page related to the keyword.

Google Panda and Penguin

We included this as a key element since the most used search engine is Google and many of the SEO campaigns and website analytics metrics are pretty much hooked up with the Google algorithm.

Google Panda is designed to check websites that are spammy on how it looks and how it behaves. Websites with bare design or none at all will usually fall onto this spammy category as well as having contents that are plagiarised, spun, or having irrelevant contents to what the website names or descriptions.

Following through our example, this means that the Panda algorithm will check if the articles written about the best pizza recipe talks about the recipe, check if the grammar is correct, and check if the content in itself is original, and how the content was formatted.

Google Penguin is designed to check websites for contents that are overly stuffed with keywords. It also checks for bad links such as hyperlinks that point to blank sites or 404s.

As the Panda does its job, the Penguin will also take care of checking if the links attached to the page are relevant to the search query that was made, and will check if the link source that points back to your page are also relevant to your niche.

These two important part of the algorithm has significant effects on how your website ranks in the SERP.

Keywords and Anchor Texts

Another interesting key element in backlinks can be found in the contents. Keywords and anchor texts are very important as most of the backlinks are hooked onto phrases, groups of words, or a single word.

As stated above, spiders are mapping pages and it happens through these words where links are attached unto. While there are various ways to produce backlinks, anchors texts are the most widely utilized specially for search engine optimized contents.

The content itself is also checked by the algorithm if it’s trustworthy or if it behaves spammy. Google Penguin analyzes content to see if keywords are stuffed. At the same time, Google Panda checks if links are placed correctly which also contributes to how the content behaves.

Why do Backlink Analysis

With the goal of ranking highest in the SERP, it is important to employ different SEO techniques to improve your place in the ranks. One of which is through a strong link building process where the foundation lies on excellently laid backlinks.

Knowing that backlinks are hyperlinks that point back to your webpages, it might sound easy as though you can just simply attach hyperlinks on anchor text and point it to your page. Yes, the idea is simple, but it’s not being done just that way.

From the previous sections, we’ve taken a look at some key elements that have significant value to your backlinks. These elements are what the algorithms check for a strong backlink that’s why it is important to understand these that would also lead to further understanding the importance of backlink analysis.

So, why is it important to understand and to do backlink analysis?

Understanding the Market Landscape

The reason you want to rank highest in the SERP is that you want to secure getting most of the clicks or what we know as organic traffic. Now as we’ve always mentioned, the competition is huge and you’re not the only one aiming to get the top spot. Aside from that, ranking highest in the SERP is not yet the full picture of overall market saturation.

Doing a backlink analysis will provide you an overall view on who, where, when, and how to engage your SEO campaigns especially on establishing backlinks for your website.

Avoiding Campaign Blunders

You might have come across the usage of PBNs or Private Blog Network and these units are intended to strengthen main money site backlinks. This SEO technique utilizes old domains with existing search engine metrics.

Another SEO technique is guest posting where you tap a relevant website and its owner to somewhat guest post to them and attach backlinks to drive traffic and metric value to your website.

Now, what’s with these techniques and their relevance to campaign blunders? Without careful backlink analysis, you might be wasting an ample amount of resources such as time and money on getting backlinks that have no value or worse, could jeopardize your whole SEO campaign.

Backlink analysis is very important when it comes to buying old domains to building your PBN. It also helps you choose which sites around your area and across the web would be of great benefit to get backlinks from.

SEO Campaign Effeciency and Efficacy

The last thing we would like to emphasize in doing a backlink analysis is that it will bring efficient and effective results to your website ranking as well as to better market saturation. You want to make use of your time and money to good use so before spending time and shelling out a stash of cash, it would be best to do backlink analysis.

analysis factors

Analyzing Factors

Now that we’ve laid the important ideas on backlink analysis, we are now ready to analyze on our own. What are the key factors to a great backlink analysis?

NAP – Niche, Audience, Position

What is your niche? Who are your target audiences? Where are you located? These important questions are factors that must be considered in doing your backlink analysis.

Being decided on your niche will keep you on track with which websites are you going to tap for guest posting, link buying, and also helpful in building your PBN if you are building one.

Knowing your target audience will then help you make your content and how you will publish it. A great source of organic traffic is by having content published on social media where most of the internet users are engaging. This will strengthen the overall trustworthiness of the link.

Your geo-position can help you narrow down your wide choices once you are firm with your niche and your target audiences. Some of you might overlook this factor but, on building a brand especially for commercial businesses, geo-position is important whether your target is the local market or global market.


Once you have established your NAP from the previous section, you will now have the idea of whose websites are you competing with. Analyzing your competitors will help you with building your strategy on building backlinks.

By doing an excellent backlink analysis, you can determine what strategy to use such as either choose to directly compete with them by knowing where they get their valuable backlinks or having backlinks directly from them, to begin with.

Citation Flow and Trust Flow

These metrics can be found on website analytic tools that you are going to use on doing backlink analysis.

Citation Flow is a number predicting how influential a URL is. The value of this metric is reliant on how many websites are linked to this URL.

Trust Flow is a metric measuring how truthful and relevant does the content of the URL based on how many neighboring websites refer to this URL and how the content is relevant to its niche.

These factors give you an important measure on which old domains to buy and which to avoid, whose website to tap for guest posting and link buying, and how you will overtake your competitor site on the SERP rankings.

Domain Authority and Page Authority

Moz SEO company has developed tools and metrics that helped webmasters on doing their website analytics. The benchmark metrics of them is the Domain Authority/Page Authority scoring.

Domain authority is a predictive measurement on how a domain name will rank on the SERP whereas Page Authority is pretty much the same but its a measurement for individual pages within a domain. Both are important factors in doing your backlink analysis and to finally seal off your strategy in link building.

Doing Backlink Analysis

From the previous sections, we’ve laid a strong foundation about the very core of doing backlink analysis. With the knowledge at hand, you will have a better grasp on what metrics to check, what goals to set and meet, and how you will strategize your link building processes.

What are the steps in doing backlink analysis? Here is a quick and easy to follow guide.

Selecting Sites to Analyze

As aforementioned, once you established your NAP and have listed your competitors, you can now begin by searching for it on your analytics tool.

Of course, you will begin by searching for your website and checking its metrics. Typing in the relevant keyword on the search engine will give you an overview of which websites rank the highest on the SERP.

Local businesses around your position are surely trying to outrank each other and so, you’ll know that those sites that rank highest in the SERP would have great sources of backlinks to them, and even they can be a good source of backlinks to climb up the ladder.

Excellently doing this will give you a good headstart on establishing your link building strategy.

Scan for Social Media Presence

Another important step to analyze your backlinks is by searching for competitor’s presence in social media. Social media networking platforms are a source of potential organic traffic that boosts the number of visitors on your website, whereas, this fact also applies to your competitors.

Social media presence adds up to the credibility and trustworthiness of a website. Creating social media accounts requires users to provide real contact information as part of these networks to reduce the number of fake accounts as well as improving the security of the whole social media network itself.

Creating pages and business accounts in social media platforms also requires enhanced verification to legitimize and monetize these pages that promote brands so a website with social media-backed pages and accounts will give you an idea which is real websites and brand where value can be found, and which are not simply by looking on the interactions on that social media pages.

It is also evident the most of the internet users are spending much time on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and many more, which means brand promotion and saturation happens here. This fact also means that the arena for local and global businesses is on social media platforms.

Get Necessary Analytics Tools

Doing backlink analysis would be very hard, if not impossible, to do without any tools since you are about to divulge yourself on searching for hundreds of thousands of pages and websites indexed in the search engine. Using powerful tools which we will discuss in the following sections will greatly help you analyze websites and their metrics.

These tools are capable of following through the search engine algorithm giving you an overview of all metrics that are being followed by the search engine as it gives you the SERP for a search query you made.

Some of the important metrics in relation to backlink analysis that can be found in website analytics tools are Domain Authority, Page Authority, Trust Flow, Citation Flow, Number of Backlinks, Site Ranking, Do-Follow/No-follow values, and Direct Referral to name a few.

Countercheck Values

Once you’ve done enough research, time to countercheck values, and assess how you would implement your link building strategy. The best practice is that at least counter check your website against a minimum of three (3) competitor websites to get better results on from your backlink analysis.

You don’t have to immediately compete against those on the top three spots as they can be useful on climbing up the ladder. On the first phase of your link building, start by at least climbing to the top 20 spots and you can countercheck first with domains that are in the lower top 10 spots.

This will lay a strong foundation on your website’s trustworthiness, credibility and will establish your position on the SERP.

Backlink Analysis Not-to-do

There are also things to avoid doing in backlink analysis. These things to avoid could seriously hurt your website reputation or would cost you a lot of time and effort while getting minimal results.

Enganging Low-Value Referring Domains

While having tons of backlinks pointing to a page looks perfect, that isn’t always the case. It is important to check the value of Referring Domains of the site where you intend to get your backlinks from.

Why does that matter? Let’s say that you’ve found a domain in the analytics tool that has 2500 backlinks, but the record also shows that the referring domain is 250, that isn’t a good sign since that means the domain you found only has 250 unique backlinks to it, and the rest of 2250 backlinks are just from within any of those 250 domains.

This may also show a sign that the backlinks to that domain might come from link farms that are considered to be a black hat SEO technique and are very prone to get penalized by the search engine. Having your website linked to those domains might jeopardize your site reputation.

Bettng All

As the saying goes, do not put all your eggs in one basket. So much so, never rely on just a single source of backlinks.

Aside from ranking on the top spots of the SERP, the main concept is that you want to have a good saturation of the market and so engaging with small and medium trustworthy websites of your niche within your location should also be an option on your table.

You might fall into the trap of being highly enticed on a backlink source that has good scores in the analytic tools. However, you also want to engage with other entry-level scored sites as sources of your backlinks.

Avoiding single-sourced backlinks will also keep yours from the dangers of being swallowed to the quicksand when the source of your backlinks got penalized or banned by the search engine and got tagged as spammy.

Bad Domains and Link Farms

While correctly implementing PBN units has a positive impact on your website, the risk is still great to rely on link farms. Usually, when a link farm gets caught, websites that it supports also receive the bad impact of the penalty bringing money sites to the brink of penalty as well.

If you are building your own PBN unit, avoid old domains that have closed down due to penalty. They might have a good numerical score but buying those penalized domains will have no value to your main site or worse, you would be spending just to get your money site to be penalized as well.

You can determine a bad link farm when you check the backlinks and it follows through pages belonging to a single domain and its content are either spammy, spun, or irrelevant to the niche. It also has an awful looking website which you could already tell to be spammy by the looks itself.


When things are too good to be true, it probably is. In the context of SEO, you can’t just simply give out a result to a freshly established domain to top the SERP on a period of 14 days. That is either a scam, a black hat practice that has heavy repercussions, or simply unachievable.

Thoroughly analyzing backlink sources, domain scores, pages scores, and relevant metrics are very important in getting the most out of backlinks that you want to source to support your main website.

Do not rush and jump into conclusion without having a good amount of backlink analysis to your websites and as well as to your competitor websites.

Backlink Analysis Tools

With all the key factors and steps on doing backlink analysis discussed, let’s now check the best tools to use.

There are lots of useful website analytic tools you can choose from but of course, there’s always who is the best among the rest. Here are some tools that are highly suggested by many webmasters.

Open Site Explorer

One of the many webmaster’s favorites, Open Site Explorer is a very powerful backlink analysis tool that is developed by Moz. Some of the functions it boasts are:

  • Spam Score of Backlinks
  • This function will help you get better backlink sources and eliminate those that you have that are in some ways behave spammy. The Spam Score gives you an idea of which sites to avoid.

  • Top-Performing Content Research
  • Knowing where the top-performing contents relevant to your niche will lead you to better sources of authoritative and trustworthy backlinks. This feature of Open Site Explorer is simply very beneficial to your backlink analysis.

  • Domain Authority Checker
  • This feature helps you find an authoritative website relative to your niche in your quest in finding where to establish backlinks.

  • Competitor Backlink Research
  • As stated from the previous sections, this important part of doing backlink analysis is a must and Open Site Explorer is capable of doing this for you.


Another prominent website analytics tool is MajesticSEO. This backlink analysis tool is one of the finest on the ranks and some of its boasted functions are:

  • Graphical Anchor Text Review
  • Backlinks are usually having its paths through anchor text where hyperlinks are hooked unto and this powerful feature of MajesticSEO helps you find what keywords would typically land to your website and on which keywords you need to strengthen your presence.

  • Backlink Traffic History
  • One of the very powerful features of MajesticSEO is the Backlink History which allows you to track the progress of your backlinks, how much traffic it produces, and how it impacts your website credibility.

  • Referring Domains, IP, and Subnetworks
  • Backlinks and Unique referring domains should always go together to maximize the flow of metric juices to your site. This feature of MajesticSEO is one of the reasons why it is one of the most sought after backlink analysis tool.


This all-around powerful backlink analysis tool is a top favorite amongst many webmasters. Not only with its user-friendly interfaces and its conducive user environment, but also Ahrefs also provides tons of data of important key elements that we’ve discussed in previous sections of this article.

Some of those key data are:

  • Website Health Score
  • This is the metric that shows the site health about the number of bad links, redirects, and crawled pages within the domain. Very helpful in tracking your website backlink flow and fixing bad links.

  • Domain Authority/Page Authority
  • A very important metric that gives you a foresight which domains are best to get backlinks from and which sites are best to avoid.

  • Keywoard Analytics
  • Ahrefs has a very powerful algorithm on checking which keywords are best that directly leads to your website and also have excellent recommendations of which keywords are great to strengthen further. This feature is very helpful in perfecting your backlink analysis and will surely help how to strategically select anchor texts.

  • URL Ratings and Referring Domains
  • Another boasted feature of Ahrefs is its URL Ratings and Referring domains, which gives you an overview of how strong your pages URLs are, how many domains point back to your pages, and find where those domains are. This is also helpful to track which bad backlink sources you should be terminating.

Wrapping it Up

Doing SEO campaigns are very tedious and cost a lot of money and time. However, this investment is never in vain as long as you’re leaning and reaping the fruits of your hard labor which can be be seen on the search engine result page.

Backlink Analysis is a very important task to make sure that you are doing your SEO campaigns correctly especially in the process of link building.

It is always important to bear in mind the rushing isn’t the best way and there are no shortcuts on reaching the goal of being on the top of the SERP and completely saturating the market.

Knowing that every day, new competitors are aiming for the same goal, the best practice will always be to build a strong foundation on your website, on your branding, and on your content, which is the very core of your link building processes.

With the powerful tools available on the web, your backlink analysis can be done with precision and effectiveness as long as you fully understand the foundations of doing the process.

Always bear in mind that backlink analysis and link building process take time and a lot of patience so don’t get disheartened if you’re not immediately getting the results you’re looking for as long as you are doing the right steps.

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