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A backlink audit is helpful in many ways. It’s usually the first step to take if you want to:
Improve your link building strategy.
Recover from a manual action (or algorithmic downgrade).
Analyze your competition.
Ensuring that you have a high-quality and natural link profile is paramount. That’s why it’s a good practice to check your links regularly.
So, when’s the last time you conducted a link audit on your website?
We asked this question to the Search Engine Journal Twitter community. Here’s what we found out.When Is the Last Time You Conducted a Link Audit on Your Website?
Here are the results from this #SEJSurveySays poll question.
According to a survey of SEJ’s Twitter audience:
47 percent said they conducted a link audit in the last 30 days.
16 percent said they had audited their links within the last 6 months.
10 percent said they did a link audit in the past year.
However, the most shocking result was this: 27 percent of SEOs have never conducted a link audit on their website.Link Audits Are Important
If you’re among the SEO professionals who religiously check on your website’s link presence, keep it up! Link audits should definitely be a part of your regular SEO process.
But if you’re one of the few who has never, ever done a link audit on your (or your client’s) site, it’s high time to rethink your methods. Not paying attention to your own links means you’re also missing a key piece of the SEO puzzle.
Links matter – a lot. It’s an important search ranking factor that can make or break your chances of ranking well in the SERPs.
If you don’t know what kind of links you’re getting, where they’re coming from, and how you got them, you won’t be able to develop and implement a successful link building and SEO strategy.
Be proactive and conduct a link audit on your website today!More Insights on Link Audits
Looking to gain more understanding on how and why you should audit your website’s links? Check out this list of articles from our SEJ contributors:Have Your Say
When was your last link audit conducted? Tag us on social media to let us know.
Be sure to have your say in the next survey – check out the #SEJSurveySays hashtag on Twitter for future polls and data.
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Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The saying runs so true for digital marketing that one of the first steps we complete for our clients is a competitive link audit.
Competitive analyses allow you to directly crawl your competitors’ sites to discover valuable backlink opportunities that they may be using to outrank you organically.
Backlinks remain the gold standard of SEO currency and acquiring backlinks is like becoming a miner in California during the 19th century. Websites must acquire a few links of their own to build up their organic keyword rank before they strike gold.
I’ve witnessed the evolution of link building over the past decade and it’s gotten far more difficult. Whoever said link building is a lost art?
Here’s how to conduct a competitive backlink analysis and how to identify areas where your website can earn some easy wins using your competitor’s backlinks.Getting Started
There are a number of competitive analysis tools to choose from. My favorites include Ahrefs, Majestic Site Explorer, SEMrush, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer. (You should use multiple backlink analysis tools for a holistic analysis.)
Consider what you or your client’s objectives are when initiating a competitive audit. Are they looking to boost their domain authority, promote content, or rank for specific keywords? Often enough, all of the above.
Evaluating your trust and citation flow will identify the quality and quantity of your backlink portfolio. Both metrics use a logarithmic scale of 1-100, the latter being the highest. ‘Trust Flow’ evaluates the quality of your inbound links, while ‘Citation Flow’ evaluates the popularity of your website – typically determined by the quantity.
The average number of referring domains and your competitors’ trust flow will provide a baseline for your website to achieve through its link building campaign to scale its organic rank.
Use a tool, like Majestic, to look at your highest ranking keyword phrases, which pages are receiving the most traffic, and what your most popular pages by links are. These strategies will identify what’s successful for your website this far.Building Domain Authority & Trust
Now let’s begin with our competitive analysis. In order to identify your competition, you could conduct a Google search of a service offered by your business.
You could also conduct a Google search for: related:“your domain name here”. A list of related businesses will appear.
Ahrefs offers the easiest method under their ‘Competing Domains’ tab and SEMrush has a similar tool. You can also look at competing webpages, as well the “content gap” between them and the competition.
Be sure to manually check out each competing webpage to see if they specialize in your niche and operate on your scale.
It’s important to track websites on your scale. A site like chúng tôi might become cumbersome to track as they gather so many backlinks daily.
Sort through each domain’s URL profile to discover:
Link opportunities from branded text URLs.
Domains that link multiple times to a single domain.
Shared links among your competitors using Ahrefs ‘Link Intersect’ tool.
Links with branded anchor text could open up various backlink opportunities including:
Links pointing to the homepage will probably align with the link building strategies above as well. Homepage links serve as a general measure of that business’s reputation and a result of their total success acquiring inbound links.
You can filter out duplicate domains and URLs to shorten your list. But you could also highlight these domains to discover sources that are linking consistently to the same website. Most likely that website will be linking toward material relevant to content found on your site. Consider reaching out to their webmaster as they may be responsive to linking to your site.
Shared links also come from industry directories and resource pages, such as chúng tôi Tools, such as SEMrush offer ways to filter links by top-level domains, which is effective for finding .edu or .gov links.Content Audit & Promotion
Using Ahrefs ‘URL Profiler’ application you can pull all of your client’s URLs into a single document and begin an extensive content audit. You can sort your client’s content based on its total shares and backlink profile to give you an idea of what you’re doing right.
This is important because it tells you what type of content your audience engages with most, which aids in keyword research and scaling your brand.
While conducting competitive backlink audits, you can also measure your competitor’s top performing pages based on their backlink profile and by social engagement.
Type in competitor URLs into Buzzsumo or on Ahrefs to see the total number of shares they have acquired. This will tell you what they’re doing right in their content marketing campaign. These webpages will most likely outrank yours for organic keywords as well.
This method doesn’t even have to be applied to direct competitors. You could type in a keyword search and place the top 10 results into Ahrefs ‘Batch Analysis’ to discover backlink sources for these high ranking publications.
For example, if you have a niche product, such as SleepPhones, which are comfortable headphones designed to be worn while relaxing or sleeping, you may want to look into sites that discuss other sleep-related paraphernalia. Chamomile tea distributors or meditation sites may get links to the types of sites that would reference this product.
Produce a backlink profile of their highest trusted and linked to pages in Ahrefs and place a filter of ‘one link per domain’ to filter out any spam links. This will provide their highest authoritative backlinks.
You can do outreach to these publications and submit content for guest postings. Manually review these websites to see if any of them are forum pages or provide further reading examples for a topic related to your niche. Conduct the same outreach and submit a piece of content you believe will benefit their readership.
Consider searching for more guest posting opportunities by researching industry leading authors over Google and other guest posts they’ve published recently. A simple search for “author name” inurl:author will produce a complete list of posts that person is credited as an author for.Additional Link Building Resources
Finally, Ahrefs offers a great tool for discovering competitor broken links. Begin scraping all of your competitors broken links and submit or create content that could fulfill these links. I’d recommend doing this before your competitors do.
Mainly, the point of competitive link analysis is to find highly authoritative links your competition is ranking from and to develop relationships with domains that are receptive to links.Final Thoughts
Completing a competitive link audit will present a variety of link building resources that can be acquired naturally. The next step is developing the content to fulfill a vast reservoir of link magnets.
Once you begin to see results from this link building campaign you can begin investing in other resources at your agency or business.
SEO is the gift that keeps on giving, and once you acquire trust with search engines through qualitative backlink acquisitions, your content will be positioned to rank higher and acquire backlinks naturally moving forward.
No matter why you have a website, it needs to be filled with great content.
Without good content, you might as well not have a website at all.
But how exactly do you know when you have good content?
You might read through a piece of content and think it’s perfectly fine, but there’s a more reliable way of figuring it out.
If you’re wondering if your content is performing well, there’s a good chance it’s time for a content audit to check for sure.
By following the right steps, knowing what to look for, and what you’re hoping to get out of your content audit, you can look forward to creating a better website.What Is a Content Audit?
At some point, every website will need a content audit.
A content audit gives you the opportunity to review closely all of the content on your website and evaluate how it’s working for you and your current goals.
This helps show you:
What content is good.
What needs to be improved.
What should just be tossed away.
What your content goals for the future should look like.
There are also some types of websites that are more in need of content audits than others.
If you have a relatively new website where all of your content is still fresh, you won’t really be in need of a content audit for a while.
Older sites have a lot more to gain from having a content audit done, as well as websites that have a large amount of content.
This makes websites like a news site a great contender for audits. The size of a website will also affect how often a content audit is necessary.What Is the Purpose of Content Audits?
Content is known for being a great digital marketing investment because it will continue to work for you long into the future, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require some upkeep from time to time.
What worked for your website at one point might not anymore, so it only makes sense to go back and review it.Improve Organic Ranking
If you aren’t ranking highly, it could be a problem with your content.
Some of the content you have might not be SEO-friendly, and although it might be valuable content to have, there’s no way for it to rank highly.
If the content you have is already good, optimizing it to be more SEO-friendly can be a simple change that makes a big difference in your rankings.Revitalize Older Content
Even the best content gets old at some point.
After a while, you might end up missing out on important keywords, having content with broken links, outdated information, among other issues.
If older content isn’t performing well, that doesn’t mean it can’t serve a new purpose for your website.
Giving new life to some of your older content can give you the same effect as having something totally brand new, without requiring you to put in the amount of work that an entirely new piece of content would need.Get Rid of Irrelevant Content
Some content that’s great at the moment only benefits you for a short while.
While you might find older content on your website that can be updated to be more useful, sometimes it has just become irrelevant.
When this is the case, you don’t have to keep it if it’s only taking up space.Eliminate Similar & Duplicate Content
In addition to unimportant pages, you can also find duplicate content to get rid of during a content audit.
Duplicate content can often occur by accident and wasn’t created to try and cheat the system, but regardless of why you have it, you can be penalized by search engines for it.
If you do find that you have extremely similar or duplicate content, but you can’t get rid of it, you can fix the problem by canonicalizing your preferred URL.Plan for the Future
When you go through the content you currently have, you might end up seeing some gaps that need to be filled.
When you realize you’re missing out on important information and topics your audience needs, this is the time to make up for that.
You’ll be able to realize what’s lacking in your website to create more useful content in the future.How to Perform a Content Audit
A content audit at first glance might seem likely simply reading through your website’s content, but there’s much more to it than that.
For an effective content audit, you’ll need to rely heavily on online tools to get the data you need.
So, before you get started with a content audit, it’s important to know exactly what you’ll need to be doing beforehand.1. Know Your Reason
If you’re going through the effort of performing a content audit, you’re not doing it for nothing.
There must be some goal that’s driving you to do this.
Not everyone will have the same reason for having a content audit, although many of the reasons might seem similar, so what you’ll want to look for might vary.2. Use Screaming Frog to Index Your URLs
One tool that you should always use during an audit is Screaming Frog.
This tool will allow you to create an inventory of the content you have on your website by gathering URLs from your sitemap.
If you have fewer than 500 pages to audit, you can even get away with using the free version.
This is one of the easiest ways of getting all of your content together to begin your content audit.3. Incorporate Google Analytics Data
After you’ve made an inventory of your website’s content, you’ll need to see how it’s performing.
For this, Google Analytics can give you all the information you need.
This can give you valuable insights as to how people feel about your content, such as how long they stick around for it and how many pages they’re viewing per session.4. Examine Your Findings
The data you get from Google Analytics will make it easier for you to figure out what your next move will be.
After reviewing your findings, it might be clear what’s holding your content down.
The solution may not be obvious, but by looking closely at what your data tells you and researching, you can figure it out with a little bit of effort.
For example, if you have one great, high-quality piece of content that doesn’t get many views, it might just need to be updated slightly and reshared.5. Make a Plan
Finally, you should figure out what the necessary changes will be and how you’ll go about making them.
If you have a long list of changes that need to be implemented, consider which ones are a priority and which ones can be fixed over time.
Planning for the future might include not just the changes to be made on existing content, but the arrangements for creating new content in the future.Finals Thoughts
Content audits might seem intimidating, but they are key to making sure all of the content on your website is working for you and not against you.
Performing a content audit doesn’t mean that you’ve been making huge mistakes with your content.
Such an audit is simply maintenance that even websites with the best content need to do.
Getting into this can seem overwhelming, but with the right help, an audit will leave you feeling more confident in your content and will help guide your next steps.
SEOs rely on traditional HTML optimization as a standard tool in their fight to improve search rankings. Just as the bayonet has evolved since the 17th century, HTML is set to receive a major upgrade in the form of HTML5. The update contains a collection of new tags and APIs. Five stand out as major SE0 innovations.
“Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.” That was President Obama’s now-famous zinger to Mitt Romney during the third Presidential debate in 2012. But the President was mistaken — the military does NOT have fewer bayonets. In fact, every U.S. Marine still receives a bayonet. Apparently, it is considered an essential weapon. The same can be said for HTML and SEOs today.
1. Nofollow’s little brothers and sisters
In 2005 Google announced that they would support a new way for webmasters to tell search engines not to pass PageRank through a link by adding a small code snippet to the link called rel=nofollow. Below is an example of a link that does not pass any PageRank:
2. Alt text gets some much-needed support
One of the key roles of an SEO is to take rich content that search engines have trouble understanding — such as images and video — and convert it into a text based alternative. And until now, SEOs used “alt text” as the primary way to help a search engine understand what is going on in an image. However, with HTML5’s new “figure” and “figurecaption” tags, we now have a much better way to explain images to search engines and users.
3. Identifying the most important links on your page
4. No more Flash for videos
Web designers love using Flash, especially to embed video on a web page. But do search engines feel the same way? Um…not so much. That’s because they have a hard time accessing the content in Flash video. In fact, without the aid of special technologies like SWFobject and video sitemaps, search engines would be clueless about a video.
<track kind=”captions” src=”transcript.en.hoh.vtt” srclang=”en” label=”English for the
5. AJAX gets search engine friendly
While Flash is a favorite of designers and creative types, AJAX is a favorite of developers and programmers looking to make their sites faster and more interactive. The drawback, of course, is that search engines struggle to read content delivered with AJAX.
But HTML5 has a solution for that. It’s a new feature called the History API. It lets developers change the URL in the address bar of the browser without refreshing the page. This subtle change helps search engines tie AJAX content to a unique URL, which is crucial for their ranking algorithms.
Overall, the improvements in HTML5 include numerous features that will help you “fight the good fight,” and improve your search rankings. It should be considered an essential weapon for SEOs today.
Cybersecurity professionals continually defend computer systems against different types of cybersecurity threats.
Even with firewalls, antivirus solutions, and cyber security-aware employees, cybercriminals manage to exploit even the smallest of vulnerabilities they can find.US Electricity Grid
In 2023, Hackers attacked the US electricity grid. A multi-stage intrusion campaign by hackers conducted spear phishing and gained remote access into energy sector networks. After obtaining access, they conducted network surveillance, moved laterally, and gathered data about Industrial Control Systems, states FBI.Federal Aviation Administration
In the list of major cybersecurity threats, next is the 2023 FAA attack. Hackers targeted administrative systems shutting down radar and sending false information to aircraft systems — two major concerns that were echoed in a report following the incident.DDoS attacks
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a subclass of denial of service (DoS) attacks. A DDoS attack involves multiple connected online devices, collectively known as a botnet, which are used to overwhelm a target website with fake traffic. To form a botnet, a coordinated DDoS attack is required. Hackers employ devices previously compromised by malware or hacking. The traffic can then be targeted against, say, AWS, which reported having prevented a 2.3Tbps attack this February.SWIFT
The bad actors used the SWIFT network to fool the US Federal Reserve into transferring them BCB funds. (It’s not uncommon for the US Fed to hold international banking assets.) As a basic security check, SWIFT sends details of any transfer to the printers of the financial institution behind the request.United States Central Command
Back in 2008, US Central Command (CENTCOM) was the military center for the United States military’s Middle East operations. A USB drive, found in a parking lot containing the chúng tôi worm, was inserted into a laptop connected to the CENTCOM network. From there it spread undetected to other systems, both classified and unclassified.Social engineering
Social engineering is the term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. Social engineering attacks happen in one or more steps.US Healthcare Network
The ransomware attacks took place over three years, extorting US$6 million in payments and resulting in US$30 million in damages. All told, only seven of the US’ 50 states escaped unscathed. That said, there’s still a high probability that there are other victims out there who have not disclosed the attacks or may not even be aware of them yet.Ransomware
Ransomware is a data-encrypting program that demands payment to release the infected data. The overall sum of ransom demands reached US$1.4 billion in 2023, with an average sum to rectify the damage reaching up to US$1.45 million. Ransomware is the third most popular type of malware used in data breaches and is employed in 22% of the cases.Third-party software
The top 30 e-commerce retailers in the US have connected to 1,131 third-party resources each and 23% of those assets have at least one critical vulnerability. If one of the applications within this ecosystem is compromised, it opens the hackers, a gateway to other domains. A breach caused by a third party costs US$4.29 million on average.Cloud computing vulnerabilities
Even with firewalls, antivirus solutions, and cyber security-aware employees, cybercriminals manage to exploit even the smallest of vulnerabilities they can find. Cybersecurity threats are getting more sophisticated and intense amid the increasing levels of remote work and dependence on digital devices. Cybersecurity professionals continually defend computer systems against different types of cybersecurity threats. One should take the time to learn about as many cybersecurity threats as possible and work to identify and address as many holes in your defenses as possible. To help your business to be ready for the coming year, Analytics Insight has identified 10 major cybersecurity threats that you might’ve never heard chúng tôi 2023, Hackers attacked the US electricity grid. A multi-stage intrusion campaign by hackers conducted spear phishing and gained remote access into energy sector networks. After obtaining access, they conducted network surveillance, moved laterally, and gathered data about Industrial Control Systems, states chúng tôi the list of major cybersecurity threats, next is the 2023 FAA attack. Hackers targeted administrative systems shutting down radar and sending false information to aircraft systems — two major concerns that were echoed in a report following the incident.Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a subclass of denial of service (DoS) attacks. A DDoS attack involves multiple connected online devices, collectively known as a botnet, which are used to overwhelm a target website with fake traffic. To form a botnet, a coordinated DDoS attack is required. Hackers employ devices previously compromised by malware or hacking. The traffic can then be targeted against, say, AWS, which reported having prevented a 2.3Tbps attack this chúng tôi bad actors used the SWIFT network to fool the US Federal Reserve into transferring them BCB funds. (It’s not uncommon for the US Fed to hold international banking assets.) As a basic security check, SWIFT sends details of any transfer to the printers of the financial institution behind the chúng tôi in 2008, US Central Command (CENTCOM) was the military center for the United States military’s Middle East operations. A USB drive, found in a parking lot containing the chúng tôi worm, was inserted into a laptop connected to the CENTCOM network. From there it spread undetected to other systems, both classified and unclassified.Social engineering is the term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. Social engineering attacks happen in one or more chúng tôi ransomware attacks took place over three years, extorting US$6 million in payments and resulting in US$30 million in damages. All told, only seven of the US’ 50 states escaped unscathed. That said, there’s still a high probability that there are other victims out there who have not disclosed the attacks or may not even be aware of them yet.Ransomware is a data-encrypting program that demands payment to release the infected data. The overall sum of ransom demands reached US$1.4 billion in 2023, with an average sum to rectify the damage reaching up to US$1.45 million. Ransomware is the third most popular type of malware used in data breaches and is employed in 22% of the chúng tôi top 30 e-commerce retailers in the US have connected to 1,131 third-party resources each and 23% of those assets have at least one critical vulnerability. If one of the applications within this ecosystem is compromised, it opens the hackers, a gateway to other domains. A breach caused by a third party costs US$4.29 million on average.System vulnerabilities are more common cloud security vulnerabilities and they can occur for many reasons. The integration of an insecure third-party application could create system risks or they could arise due to poorly configured security tools within your cloud systems. The criminal’s scan for cloud servers with no password, exploit unpatched systems, and perform brute-force attacks to access the user accounts. Some try to plant ransomware or steal sensitive data, whilst others, use cloud systems for crypto-jacking or coordinated DDoS attacks.
Social media marketing audit template Audit your social media marketing with our guided template, complete with worked example How will this social media audit template help me and my business?
Every successful marketing strategy starts with a detailed audit. After all, how are you supposed to improve if you don’t know how well you’re currently doing? This is especially true when formulating a social media strategy. The fast-paced nature of social platforms means that you constantly need to review your performance and optimize your posts if you want to become a thought leader in your industry.
Managing social media updates as part of content marketing activities takes time. You want to make sure you are focusing in the right places and getting the returns on your investment. That’s why our Word Doc social media audit template helps you review the effectiveness of your own social media activities, or for your clients. There’s also a full example report included using a fictitious company who are looking for more clients in their sector.
The template includes both blank pages and tables in a workbook format that you can complete, followed by a worked example.Who is this social media audit template for? How is the audit structured?
The audit template includes:
The main audit template, with blank tables for you to fill in
An example of how a fictitious company – Health Recruitment Ltd. – would complete the template when auditing their company’s social media
We recommend using the social media audit template to conduct top-level analysis that can be presented in a concise format. The example audit can be used to help gauge how you can use the template to apply to your business, and see how practically you can implement the audit and its findings in your marketing strategy.
The audit includes:
Opportunity: Review your channel performance, competitor benchmarking, governance etc.
Strategy: Define key objectives, structured around RACE (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage)
Action: Determine what tactics you will use, integration with brand style/tone of voice, and plan social selling and listening actions
At the end of the blank template, we have also included:
An example of a completed audit by fictitious company: Health Recruitment LtdLatest updates
This template has been updated in our RACE Growth Process OSA (Opportunity, Strategy, Action) framework to improve usability and integration with your marketing strategy. It has also been redesigned so that the template and example audit are all within one document for ease of use. An instructional page has also been written for the audit template to guide you through each section if you are only completing a top-level audit of your social profiles.Resource Details
Author: Miriam Shaviv. Updates provided by Dr Dave Chaffey.
Format: A downloadable Word Doc
We recommend you use this audit alongside our example social media plan template as well as our Social Media Learning Path.
Techniques for measurement of ROI for social media are covered in our module on evaluating content marketing ROI.About the author
Miriam Shaviv is Director of content at Brainstorm Digital who is active in creating and managing social media strategies for B2B and B2C clients. Connect to her LinkedIn.
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