2018 Blogging Research: How Does Your Blog Compare To The Best

2018 Blogging Research

Examine this analysis of 2018 Blogging Research to improve your blog and related content marketing. Includes charts, examples and tips.

The post 2018 Blogging Research: How Does Your Blog Compare To The Best appeared first on Heidi Cohen.

from Marketing https://heidicohen.com/2018-blogging-research/

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How SEO Would Look Like If Google Removed URLs from the Internet

Even if you don’t know what they actually are, if you use the internet, one of the first things you’ll stumble upon are URLs. We also call them addresses sometimes. You probably don’t spend much time thinking about them, but the World Wide Web is actually built  from the ground up on URLs. Every time you access or link to a web page, you use a URL.

 

Google implied that “URLs must die”. But, is a world without URLs possible?

 

How_Will_SEO_Look_Like_If_Google_Removes_URLs_2

 

Follow along and let’s jump a little deeper into this topic to see what Google has in plan and, maybe, how an internet without URLs would look like. Also, keep in mind that this is mostly supposition, so please do feel free to open a conversation in the comments section!

 

Well, all that might be susceptible to change, as Google allegedly claimed that in order to have a server internet, “URLs must die”. However, the wording is more of a click bait rather than a fact.

 

  1. What Exactly Are URLs?
  2. Why Does Google Want to Kill URLs?
  3. How Does the Internet Look Like Without URLs?
  4. How Would SEO Work Without URLs?
 

What Exactly Are URLs?

 

URLs are very complex in theory, but in practice they are very simple to use and understand.

 

URLs stand for Uniform Resource Locator and are often referenced to as a web address.

 

Put simply, it’s the address used to access a desired location/web page/resource.

 

 

As an analogy, the browser is like a courier and the resource is like the contact person for delivery. 

 

For example, if I want to publish a file.pdf document on the web, I need to host it somewhere. In order to host it, I need a server. The server will be assigned an IP which will tell us many things about the location. This is the country and city.

 

The server is also assigned a specific domain or hostname (or multiple ones). Let’s say that’s the street and building.

 

However, I’ll only store my PDF file in a specific place, let’s say a folder called resources. That will be the apartment.

 

Then, I actually need to specify its name, to know exactly where I want to get.

 

The final destination will be something like https://www.domain.com/resources/file.pdf

 

 

Why Does Google Want to Kill URLs?

 

Well, as stated in the introduction, Google never said that it wants to remove URLs completely.

 

In an interview with Wired the Chrome Engineer Manager, Adrienne Porter Felt talked about “making identity understandable to everyone” and “the way URLs are displayed”.

 

Note the key word here, which is ‘displayed’. Not killed, not removed, but displayed.

 

But let’s just image for a second that Google actually said the phrase “In order to make the internet a safer place, URLs MUST DIE!!!”. Try it and maybe use the Skeletor voice as well.

 

internet without URLs

 

 

Google has fought to make URLs prettier and, therefore, easier to understand. We all know the “use pretty URLs” phrase. This means that instead of having https://yourwebsite.com/index/case-studies-242v43x/traffic-increase?ctcid=42542&bb=1425f you’d have something like https://yourwebsite.com/how-to-increase-traffic/.

 

Pretty URLs are helpful in some ways. Users can make an idea about the topic of the web page by simply looking at the URL. Also, longer and weird URLs often seem suspicious and users might avoid following them.

 

The article louring users with the murderous Google click bait also mentions a study made by McAfee which states that cybercrime costs the world $600 billion and it’s growing. The study only mentions the word ‘URL’ once and it involves various types of attacks, many of which have nothing to do with URLs.

 

The article does point out that URL shorteners might affect the link between web identity and URLs and hackers might take advantage of this to mask malicious websites. However, URL shorteners are merely a redirect which could be set up cheap and easy using any domain.

 

It’s true that the easiest way to get infected with any sort of virus is through accessing the wrong URL.

 

However, this is a link problem, as usually you won’t be typing your way into a ransomware.

 

Simply hiding the URL from the user in Chrome won’t help at all. A malicious URL could be hidden underneath an anchor text, on any website, at any time. It could be your best friend’s Facebook account that’s hacked and sends malicious URLs. You won’t even think before clicking, thinking it’s your friend and it must be safe.

 

The best way to protect yourself against cyber attacks is to be informed and always a little cautious!

 

Have a watch at this and you’ll understand that most of the time, hackers simply use the personal information you leak publicly against you. They might be at an internet cafe, reading what you type when you don’t access a secure website.

 

 

So, next time you post something on Facebook, think twice. Make sure you also inform others about this.

 

 

How Does an Internet Without URLs Look Like?

 

Although Google never actually said that this was a possibility, there’s a chance they might try it!

 

We’re still in the realm of speculation, but there’s actually some evidence for it.

 

If Google makes the web less open, they might be able to completely remove URLs.

 

The first thing I want to mention is Google AMP. I talked about Google AMP in the past and debated whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

 

Whatever your thoughts are on Google AMP, one thing is clear: a URL-less world would resemble the AMP initiative. So far, AMP lists everything on Google’s servers, so you don’t actually need to use any URLs, except Google.com.

 

But you still use URLs… and they still exist.

 

You see… It’s almost impossible to imagine an open web without URLs. You need some sort of… identifier to reach a resource or location on the web. If it’s not an address, it’s an IP. If it’s not an IP, it’s a host name and so on.

 

One friend of mine once told me “If you think you have a big imagination, try imagining a new color”. (inside joke: our colleague Cornelia might have a chance, as she’s color blind and hasn’t yet tried any of those glasses).

 

URLs are very similar to real live physical addresses, so if you can imagine a world without addresses… then you probably can imagine an open web without URLs.

 

URL address

 

However, if the web is less open, then Google can just be one single app which hosts all content. This way it can have control over malicious URLs… and everything else.

 

The second thing I want to mention is Google Data Search. It’s a search engine launched in September 2018 and it’s targeted at journalists and scientists. It looks like it’s taking advantage of something similar to structured data in order to figure out bullet points, such as release date, author and description.

 

Google Data Search is the closest we can find as to how a search engine would look like without URLs , although the content within the results does contain links (and URLs).

 

 

If Google really considers URLs a threat to its users, then the only way of dealing with it is not let users access any URLs, at least not through Chrome. This means that Google will have to host all the content, so that users only have contact with Google’s servers and its own (hidden) URLs.

 

This sounds good for the user, but in reality there are tons of issues. How will advertising work? How will website owners make money? Will they still publish content? Will they get paid by Google?

 

How Would SEO Work Without URLs?

 

In a world without URLs, SEO would pretty much work the same. The only thing missing from the algorithm completely would be backlinks (a backlink analysis tool company’s worst nightmare).

 

However, we all know that is possible, since Yandex (the Russian search engine) doesn’t use backlinks in its algorithm. Google has tried this in the past (back when Cutts ruled the bots) but it hasn’t worked out for them, as the results came up a lot worse.

 

I don’t know about that though, as if you used Google translate to translate “anything + torrent” in Russian and then search it on Yandex, you’ll definitely find anything you want for free. And all that without any backlinks in the algorithm!

 

 

So, backlinks might be replaced by what we now call citations, in local SEO. It’s basically the same thing as a branded backlink, but without the link. It would work in a similar way Brand Mentions works to notify you about new mentions.

 

Other than that, probably nothing much would change. 

 

Content, CTR and UX will still be the most important factors when it comes to positioning things in search engines, along with other basic things, such as keywords in titles and how fast the resource loads (it shouldn’t be an issue anymore though, if Google hosts everything).

 

Conclusion

 

So… what do you think? Is an internet without URLs even possible? How would SEO look in a world where URLs don’t exist? Do you think Google is actually trying to solve a problem or is it trying to solve its own interests to gain more control over the internet?

 

The post How SEO Would Look Like If Google Removed URLs from the Internet appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

from Marketing https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/20491/google-removes-urls/

Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

You know how important online presence is to any business and how valuable it is to deliver performance. But how well do you understand your users’ path and what makes them engaged? How often has it happened to you to find out specific things about your traffic and make correlations but didn’t know the steps for filtering your data?

 

Understanding your Google Analytics results can be hard and tricky, but Google Analytics Insights is the everyday solution. It’s like training for the race and come home with the medals.

 

Google-Analytics-Insights---The-Hidden-Gems

 

The great side of GA insights is the personalized list of marketing tips and tricks you get based on the activity of your business. It uses a machine learning algorithm, named Analytics Intelligence, which makes it easier for the business owner to discover what’s important in the pile of data and then take meaningful action. And the best thing of all is that you can ask questions and get directions.

 

  1. Understand Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value
  2. Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now
  3. Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged
  4. Find Any Anomalies for Your Website
  5. Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate
  6. Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services

 

Google Analytics Insights offers great guidelines for your website. For starters, you can select some questions from a standard list to get some directions. Straight form the Insights go to list of questions regarding users, traffic trends, content analysis, users behavior, product performance and technical performance.

 

Questions Google analytics insights

 

Creating great campaigns and improving your digital marketing results is mandatory for success, that’s why you should keep an eye on Google reports for insights.

 

 

1. Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value

 

For e-commerce websites, Average Order Value (AOV) is one of the most important metrics that should be tracked. It a metric that measures the total average of all the transactions made by a customer each time they place an order on the website, within a specific period of time.

 

AOV is determined by measuring sales per order, not sales per customer. Although one customer may come back multiple times to make a purchase, each order would be counted separately in the AOV.

 

Keeping track of Average Order Value would help business owners to be aware of key business decisions such as advertising spend, store layout, and product pricing.
Google logo Google
 

 

To find out the year over year growth of AOV you need to go to insights. You can access it from all the google analytics dashboards; it doesn’t matter where you are.

 

GA Insights

 

Then, you can search for “year over year growth of Average Order Value” or go to Conversions » Ecommerce » Overview. There you can see something similar to the next graphic.

 

Year over year growth

 

You can see if your AOV has increased or suffered a drop. In the first case, a higher AOV will increase your ecommerce store’s profitability. In the last case, it means that this year’s orders (according to the graphic, it is 2018) are fewer than the ones from the previous year (2017).

 

You can increase the AOV by a few improvements/tricks in your selling process, such as:

  • Offer free shipping. There are lots of websites that offer free shipping with regard to the period of shipment.
  • Offer limited free shipping for a specific order value. For example, chose a free shipping value of $25 or $30 depending on what type of products you sell. If you’re selling luxury products, unfortunately that doesn’t apply.
  • Offer additional products right in the card after the customer placed a product. If you give recommendations based on what the customer ordered, you might encourage additional spending
  • Give coupons to loyal customers to inspire them to make purchases.
  • Start a loyalty program. You can create fidelity cards with points and for each purchase, the customer can collect points.

 

The beautiful side of this Overview panel form Analytics is the Marketing section, where you can see what campaigns are performing in terms of transactions, revenue, and AOV. You can see here what online marketing strategy (promotion, coupon codes, affiliation) works best:

 

Marketing AOV

 

2. Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now

 

If you want to know who is interested in buying right now from the whole list of leads, then In-Market Segments is the choice you should make. In-Market Segments reflect the users who are interested in a product and close to converting. They can help you decide what to promote or how to remarket.

 

Simply click on Insights and search for “Know what users are interested in purchasing right now” and you’ll see a similar report for your website:

 

In-Market Segments

 

In the screenshot above, you can see the In-Market Segments for Aug 1, 2018-Aug 31, 2018. And if you look at the number, you can see that they have grown significantly over the past month. By clicking on Go to Reports from your Google Analytics Account, you will be redirected to Audience » Interests » In-Market Segments.

 

Here you can create segments and keep track of what you’re interested in. This way you have an easy management and a clear sight of who is more active and who needs a little help. You can see Google Analytics data regarding behavior, e-commerce conversions or goals completition.

 

Audience in-segments

 

Based on the results above you can use remarketing, and focus your lower-funnel marketing (e.g., promotions, discounts, product bundles) on these users. For example, create audiences with conditions like “In-Market Segment exactly matches Financial Services/Investment Services”. You can then use these audiences in AdWords, DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DoubleClick Search remarketing campaigns.

 

If you want to create audiences, you have to go to your Admin panel » Property » » Audience Definitions » Audiences.

 

Admin panel - creating audiences

 

After you select Audiences, you can set up the steps for Remarketing and create your first audience.

 

Creating Audiences in Google Analytics

 

3. Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged

 

Loyal customers are hard to achieve and once you gained their hearts you must keep their engagement rate high. If you want to see the percentage of loyal users, you can search for “How loyal were your users from September?” in the GA insights section.

 

On the site we analyzed we could see that the loyality rate was 5.87% in September compared to August.

 

Loyal users in GA

 

To follow up on these numbers, you can see the exact number or users if you go to Audience » Behaviour » New vs. Returning and select the last 28 days or check the monthly trend of users over the last 12 months.

 

You can always compare these results with the previous year and for that you have to look at the year over year growth of users. For the analyzed site, we have an increase of 4.11%.

 

Year over year growth of users

 

In case there was a decrease there are some things to consider, such as adding new site features, product strategies, or marketing activities.

 

4. Find Any Anomalies for Your Website

 

If you think something strange happened to your users or your website, you can search to see if there were any anomalies in users, sessions, impressions, transactions and more. Google uses a specific model –  Bayesian state space-time series model – to forecast values that stand out beyond the normal trend in the time series data:

 

Analytics Intelligence Anomaly Detection is a statistical technique to identify “outliers” in time-series data for a given dimension value or metric.
Google logo Google
 

 

Go to Google Analytics Insights and search for “Any anomalies in the number of users last week?” and your question will be answered. For the website we analyzed we can see there is nothing abnormal regarding users.

 

Anomalies in users

 

There are two types of anomalies presented in Google Analytics:

  • for sites that experience a spike;
  • for sites that had a drop in sales or some metrics perform poorly.

 

In case you find anomalies in your account that signal some negative performance, then you should look at the results and the period of time. As you can see in the screenshot below, Google detected 1 anomaly in the time series analyzed marked with a red dot. It identified it as an anomaly because it wasn’t accurate regarding historical data.

 

Anomalies in google analytics

Source: medium.com

 

You probably know about Google Analytics alerts. You could find them at Customization » Custom Alerts » Manage Custom Alerts » New Alert. And you could add alerts to keep an eye on the problems that appear. For example, you can have an alert in case your transactions dropped to a specific value.

 

Analytics alerts

 

 

5. Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate

 

Finding pages that don’t bring any commercial benefits can be hard to spot and Analytics insights has the information on that. For the site we used on this analysis we received some recommendation of what needs to be improved and one of them was the poor landing pages in terms of ecommerce conversion rate.

 

We saw that some of your top landing pages performed >25% worse on ecommerce conversion rate this month.

 

Worst top landing pages on ecommerce conversation rate

 

Over the time period analyzed, the overall ecommerce conversion rate of the site was 0.57%, according to the Google Analytics results. Tracking this type of data helps you see the conversion rate and the directions for improving it. For keeping the numbers high you have to keep the content relevant for the type of traffic you have for those pages. You need to answer the following questions:

 

  1. If there have been changes in the traffic sources to these pages, have you made sure the content is relevant to that traffic?
  2. If you changed the content on these pages, did you notice a change in user behavior?

 

To see the type of traffic you have for your pages, go to Behaviour » Site Content » Landing Pages. Here chose the secondary dimension: Traffic Type.

 

Landing Pages - Traffic type 1

 

6. Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services

 

Once you understand the popularity of certain products and discover what’s accounting for your highest ROI, your business will grow.

 

Tracking the revenue trend for your products can be really helpful in understanding what’s working and what products didn’t bring so much revenue. If you search for “Trend of Product Revenue by Product” you’ll see a chart similar to the one below:

 

Product revenue for last month

 

As you can see in the picture above there is a spike in revenue. This chart is very efficient in discovering which products are most effective. So in our case, we should look at the product that had a drastic increase and go further in discovering what we did that day or during the previous days.

 

I performed the search once more to see if this spike appeared again in the last 3 months by going to Conversions » Ecommerce » Product Performance. And it seems it happened again in October so it wasn’t just a one-time thing, but still the spike is pretty high comparing to the normal growth of the website.

 

Product performance

 

Conclusion

 

Google Analytics Insights is the online guide that helps you see the missing opportunities, the lacking performance, the anomalies and get recommendations and straight answers to your questions with direct reference to the reports and graphs. Following the above actionable insights we talked about, and looking through the customized reports will give you the chance to improve your Google analytics data, increase sales and perform conversion rate optimization

 

It is very easy to use. You can ask questions or look for specific metrics and dimensions and Google Intelligence will give you directions to the analytics reports. You’ll get recommendations and see what you should do to improve the metrics and the parts of your website that aren’t performing so well in the sales funnel.

 

 

The post Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

from Marketing https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/20593/google-analytics-insights/

How to Do a Backlink Audit – The Step by Step Guide

Recently somebody has asked me how to do a backlink audit and what are the required steps for an accurate analysis. We’ve talked numerous times on what’s the best way to evaluate your links and remove the damaging ones. So, it got me thinking … We need to create a guideline.

 

A backlink audit shouldn’t be hard to perform. First, because you need to use it whenever you want. So, it must come in handy anytime you have new clients or you want to monitor some old sites, or anytime you’ve been penalized, your traffic dropped and you want to have a closer look at the situation.  

 

How_to_Do_a_Backlink_Audit2

The workflow for a backlink profile audit isn’t so complicated; it is rather natural and implies 7 action steps:

 

  1. Get to Know All the Links of Your Site
  2. Review the Backlink Profile List
  3. Identify Your Unnatural Links
  4. Measure Penalty Risks
  5. Remove Bad Links and Disavow
  6. Compare Links to Your Competitors for a Deeper Analysis
  7. Start a Strategy for Building Valuable Links
 

Step 1. Get to Know All the Links of Your Site

 

To run a comprehensive backlink analysis you need the have access to the whole list of links. The easiest way to do this is by using a link audit tool

 

cognitiveSEO has a simple dashboard for keeping tracking of your backlinks by offering all the information in one place. You just need to add your website and instantly get a list with all of your links.

 

cognitiveSEO inbound link analysis

 

For those of you who want to be extra sure that everything is in, you can always import link within the tool. Simply go Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) to download the list of links from there, too. Using the old version or Google Search Console you can download the data for your site, by going to Search Traffic » Links to Your Site.

 

Download links from Search Console

 

If you chose the option to “Download latest links” you’ll get the whole list of links and not only the domains.

 

You can get a list of links from Google Analytics, but you’ll need a script. If you’re a tech-savvy, it’s no biggie. You’ll have to add a short, simple code in your Google Analytics Tracking code.

 

Sean Si, an SEO Specialist, explained in one of his articles how to track outbound links using Google Analytics through a code. You have to copy-paste the next code and put it exactly under your Google Analytics tracking code in the same script:

 

</script>

(your Google Analytics Tracking code)

var a = document.getElementsByTagName(‘a’);
for(i = 0; i < a.length; i++){
if (a[i].href.indexOf(location.host) == -1 && a[i].href.match(/^http:///i)){
a[i].onclick = function(){
_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outgoing_links’, this.href.replace(/^http:///i, ”)]);
}
}
}
</script>

 

Then you can review your outbound links. Go to Behavior » Events » Overview. And look at the List of links from the right side:

 

outbound-link-tracking-where-to-find-the-outbound-link-events

 

You can collect all the links in one single file. Make sure that you add the extra links you might have form our sources and place them into the cognitiveSEO tool. Besides all the links that the tools show you, it will be a great benefit to add all the other ones gathered through manual actions.

 

Within the cognitiveSEO tool, you have the possibility to import links. There is an option to format your CSV file based on a simple format suggested by the tool.

 

Import links

 

In the end, your file will be successfully imported and, in case the links were already in the tool, nothing will change. In case they weren’t, they will be added to the tool. This way you’ll have access to the full list of your links.  This brings us to the next step.  

 

Step 2. Review the Backlink Profile List

 

Once you got here, you need to have a strategy in mind. Before going into specifics, you need to evaluate your links together as a unitary piece and identify strengths and weaknesses for the whole backlink profile.

 

Even if we talk about new clients or you are responsible for SEO in a new company or a new SEO project, the process should take into consideration the following steps:

 

  1. Identify the Domain Authority and Link Profile for each website by looking at referring domains & analyzed links. In SEO Campaigns from the cognitiveSEO toolset you’ll see the:

 

  • cognitiveSEO link rank (scale 0-100): a popularity score developed by us to see the quality of the overall link profile. The higher the score, the higher the quality.
  • the number of referring domains that are analyzed by the system/the number of referring domains the website has.
  • the number of links analyzed by the tool/the number of links that the website has.

 

cognitiveSEO link rank

 

The number between the referring domains and links might be different. Multiple links from the same domain are considered to transfer lower value, so unique linking referring domains are typically a more relevant metric.

 

  1. Check the natural growth of your backlink profile by reviewing the Link Velocity. The link velocity chart is a good indicator for spotting spikes and drops for links and referring domains.

 

Link velocity

 

The chart shows the cumulative total number of analyzed links and the number of referring domains existing into the system. In case you see huge spikes for links versus referring domains (or a spike of one of the two) that could mean the website had some unnatural growth, or massive link building campaigns. And those links should be analyzed in detail in the next step of the link audit – Unnatural link Detection.

 

  1. Compare dofollow links to nofollow links. While both links are good and they enrich your backlink profile, you can review both of them to have an accurate view. A natural link growth can’t show only a single type of links.

 

Dofollow vs nofollow

 

You should raise a flag in case you don’t have nofollow links or have too many. In the first scenario, if you don’t have nofollow links, it means the links were acquired in an unnatural way and the website needs further analysis to spot and remove the spammy links.

 

If you have too many nofollow links, then you should start generating dofollow links and create a new strategy. You can see them better in the chart pie below, right in the inBound Link Analysis.

 

dofollow and nofollow ratio

 

  1. Check the authority distribution of your backlink profile. Inbound Link Analysis shows information about the type of influence for all of your links.

 

cognitive domain influence

 

It is natural to have low and no authority linking pages because the web itself is formed of a very high distribution of high and low-quality pages.

 

  1. Understand the website coverage of your links by reviewing side-wide links. Site-wide links are replicated on several (or all) pages of your site. For example, the footer or blog-roll links are site-wide links. Not all of them have value for your analysis, so you can filter them out.

 

Side wide links

 

You should have fewer sitewide links because they are not so relevant for your website and have low-quality.

 

  1. Evaluate the Deep Link Ratio and check how many backlinks are pointing to your homepages. You should see exactly if you are having links coming to specific pages to spot the spammy path. It is OK to have both of them within your distribution, just like in the chart below.

 

Homepage links vs deep links

 

 

The Visual Link Explorer can quickly show why links to other pages than the homepage are important and how they help boost the overall authority of a website. You can see that all the backlinks pointing to the internal pages of a website are connected and are reinforcing the main domain.

 

Visual Link Explorer

 

Visual Link Explorer has lots of other advantages. You can also find the best internal pages.

 

  1. Easily find the strongest internal pages you have, based on high-quality backlinks using the Visual Link Explorer.

 

Visual Link explorer high quality links

 

The lowest-quality backlinks are represented by the smallest dots, the ones that are the closest to center of the cluster. And the highest-quality links are represented by the largest dots, farthest from the center of a cluster. So it’s really easy to analyze your high-quality link ratio and also identify your best linked internal pages.

 

  1. Check how many backlinks are coming from homepages versus deep pages using the Deep Backlink Ratio chart. In this case, you can see if the links you receive come from the homepage or from a specific URL. The desired option would be to have a smaller amount of homepage backlinks than deep backlinks.

 

deep backlink ratio

 

The explanation is pretty simple. Very few websites have links on their homepage that point to a foreign website because that is a presentation page about a business/company. So, one of the few exceptions happens when those links are placed there with a paid agreement.

 

A natural situation would be to have links on deep pages, just like somebody would link to your website on one of their articles to recommend something that you have or give a reference.

 

  1. Analyze the relevance between a site and its inbound links using Webpage Category & Link Visibility charts. The software detects up to 19 categories, such as Auto/Business/Travel/Gambling etc., in the English language, that can help you identify the naturalness of your backlinks profile or that of your competitors. You can use this to see if you have links placed on sites that are totally out of your niche and that could affect your rankings negatively.

 

The Webpage Category chart below is an example of a website that offers online tutorials, so most of their links come from the tech and business industry.

 

 

Webpage category

 

A more in-depth look should be applied to categories such as Gambling, Adult, Pets because it might not be related to the niche they are focusing on.

 

The Link Visibility chart helps you spot unnatural link footer patterns very easy. You can identify the visual location of the links on the page. In the chart below you can see three types: above the fold, body, and footer. Normally, you should have a lot of body links (links placed inside the page – usually in the content) and not header or footer links.

 

Link visibility

 

  1. Reveal any link building strategy. In case you want to see what strategies were implemented, you can use the Webpage Type & Link Positioning data.

 

The Webpage Type chart allows you to profile your backlinks. This means you can see exactly the type of page it’s linking to, whether it’s a Blog, a Forum, an E-commerce site or maybe a News site. The classification can really come in handy if you want to see the linking strategy for that specific website.

 

Below is an example of a website that offers online tutorials, so most of their links come from blogs.

 

Webpage type

 

You should click on the categories such as webpage directories, article directories and parked domains because usually, these types of pages bring harmful links. For each website there might be different categories.

 

Link Positioning classifies each analyzed link by its type (Blogroll, Blog Post, in Content Link, etc.). Some of the worst examples are blog comments and the banner type of links. Below you can see an example of a website.

 

Link Positioning

 

  1. Identify new markets & unnatural linking patterns. Since we’ve talked about future strategies and marketing plans, the final metric to use for a link analysis is Webpage Language & Domain TLD Distribution.

 

The Webpage Language classifies each page by the main language that the content was written in. The Domain TLD Distribution displays how the referring domains are distributed across the entire link profile, based on their TLD (Top Level Domains).

 

Webpage language and Domain TLD distribution

 

They both work together. To spot any irregularities, check pages written in languages that have no connection with your site. For example, you have a website that targets the US market but most of the links came from Chinese websites, written in Chinese. I’ve seen often times sites from Russia or China that were linking to strange pages. So use Google translate in case you find something unnatural.

 

You can easily spot the country by looking at the Top 10 Referring Countries.

 

Top referring countries

 

Before diving into the next step, until this point you’ve gathered a lot of information for your website. The next point on the link audit will conclude with a clearer perspective of your backlink profile.

 

  1. Understand the evolution of any website using the Link & Anchor Text History. Give your backlink audit a final touch of high-class knowledge by using these two cognitiveSEO metrics. It is optional and can complement your reports very well.

 

The Link History chart shows your links categorized in 9 typologies to:

  • see daily new and lost links to see the days (periods) where you received or lost a larger amount of links. You can identify issues by looking at the spikes. 
  • see the evolution of your links and referring domains.
  • manage your link profile unnaturalness over time and the risk of your website being penalized by the search engines.
  • take action in case you have lots of lost links.
  • find the link building strategies for each website and how they evolved.
  • see where are your links coming from.

 

 

The Anchor Text History shows you the evolution of the anchor texts for the live and lost links. This chart is very good for spotting any spikes which stand out from all of those that have constant evolution because it might happen some unusual activity. 

 

Anchor test history

 

Step 3. Identify Your Unnatural Links

 

Once you’ve got here, you must know that the fun part begins. There are lots of features in cognitiveSEO that offer you traces of unnaturalness.

 

One of the main features is the Unnatural Link Detection which will discuss a little bit further and it can point you to the unnatural and suspect links for every website you might have and also give you indications of how ok or not is your backlinks profile. 

 

Unnatural Detection toolbar for metamorphosis

 

Before you get to the Unnatural navigator, there other features that can give you direct indications to which pages you receive spammy links. 

 

One of them is the Visual Link Explorer, which helps you uncover any website’s link profile. Even if it looks like a “galaxy far, far away”, it is the easiest, yet advanced, visualization that allows you to comprehend the ever-growing complexity of a site’s link profile.

 

Have you ever wanted to really see your link profile, beyond a list of links? If you have been waiting for a visual link-profiling tool, then you’re in luck. The Visual Link Explorer allows you to see your link profile as a whole and visually dig into it.

 

Each cluster has in the center a page from your website represented with a dot and to each dot lots of other blue dots are connected, at the bottom, which represent the backlinks for that specific page.

 

The higher the distance from the center point to the blue bottom dots from the cluster, the higher the quality of the link. For extra information about a link (blue dot) simply click on it and you’ll see a snippet of text on the right side of the tool.

 

 

You can see them classified by unnaturalness and see if you have pages with problems. Below you can see an example of such kind. A single page has a lot of spammy links pointing to it. So, if we take the long shot, it might be a negative SEO attack or a black hat link building technique.

 

Visual link explorer unnatural

 

For further investigations, cognitiveSEO tool has an interesting and quite unique feature that differentiates it from other tools. And that’s the Unnatural navigator. This metric is very good to use in case your website was penalized by Google (manually or algorithmically), to track your risk of getting a penalty, to identify negative SEO attacks and to discover unnatural links.

 

Before reviewing the unnatural links one by one or in bulk (as you wish), you need to classify the brand vs. commercial anchor text.  The Anchor Text Distribution is your help. It is very good for spotting any suspicious anchor texts which are out of the niche. In the screenshot below you can see an example of lots of commercial anchor text and weird anchor text such as: “187980.royalnedirectory.com”, “680176.corwndirectory.com”, “691023.directorychimp.com”.

 

Commercial anchor text

 

Looking at the screenshot above, you’ll see three types of anchor texts:

 

  • brand: classify all the anchor texts that contain the name of the brand or similar variations.
  • commercial: include anchor texts that describe the brand, the services/products, the industry or type of business. In one word, keywords that have commercial intents.
  • miscellaneous contains keywords that you should place in one of the categories described above. Usually, in the gray area there must remain only informational keywords, such as “click here”, “website”, “source”, etc.

 

There are three categories of links: OK, suspicious and unnatural and to each category the number of links is attached. The desired situation would be to have more OK links.

 

Lots of good links

 

versus

 

Lots of unnatural links

 

If you have a backlinks profile with a percentage or unnatural links that is higher than 15%-20% then you might be in trouble. You’ll get a warning message saying:

 

This site has a highly unnatural link profile and it’s likely to be penalized by Google. You should use the Link Navigator in order to mark the unnatural links for Disavow or Removal.

 

Step 4. Measure Penalty Risks

 

Once you’ve seen the starting point of your unnatural links, you can measure the penalty risk. Look for any unnatural link signals by evaluating the issues so you can clean your backlinks profile and have a healthy status. The tool shows you some of the reasons why some of your links are considered to be unnatural or potentially dangerous. If you click on any of the bar charts, you’ll see of all the links that have that specific issue.

 

Most common issues

 

For a full analysis, you’ll have to click on all the unnatural links:

 

unnatural link

 

Google says it very clear that any link that manipulates ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Quality is defined as follows:

 

The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

 

cognitiveSEO Unnatural Link Detection follows the quality guidelines form Google and mark links as unnatural if the website follows any of the next strategies:

  • it comes from automatically generated content;
  • are generated by a paid contract (buy and selling links type of schemes);
  • pages created with little or no original content;
  • cloaking;
  • manipulated redirects;
  • hidden text or links;
  • doorway pages;
  • scraped content;
  • keyword stuffing and pages loaded with irrelevant keywords;
  • pages that use malicious (phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware)
  • abusive rich snippets markup and so on.

 

 

Step 5. Remove Bad Links and Disavow

 

When you find bad links, the best decision would be to disavow them. The Unnatural Link Detection allows you to easily disavow, add them into a file and then send the file directly to Google. They recommend it. If you find any bad links, the best to do is disavowing them, to cut the connection with your website. 

 

Disavow domain

 

After disavowing the links, go to the main page of the tool and click on Export Google Disavow and then Send disavow file. In case you have a disavow file, you can add it to the tool by clicking on Import Google Disavow and then collect others links.

 

Export disavow file

 

The Unnatural Link Navigation tool is very powerful and, if used properly, it can help you read or prevent Google Penalties. It can save your business.

 

For an extra safety measure, go to Site Explorer » Rankings to see if the website has experienced any drops or increases after algorithmic penalties in Google.

 

Site explorer rankings

 

Step 6. Compare Links to Your Competitors for a Deeper Competitive Analysis

 

In cognitiveSEO campaigns, you can perform individual analysis for each competitor or side by side comparison. So the same analysis I proposed for your website you can repeat it for your competitors. In case you want something fast and easy, you can look in particular at the two metrics I’ve explained above.

 

The Webpage Type that we’ve previously talked on the analysis for your own website has a lot of benefits for spotting the strategies applied by your competitors. It has a strong value because you can use these metrics for spotting the strategies followed by your competitors determining which type of sites seems to be more likely to link to you, based on your competitors’ profiles.

 

Webpage type

 

The Link Positioning data is highly beneficial to spy on your competitors and get some directions for your website (pros versus cons). Running a backlink analysis of your competitors allows you to find out where they’re hiding their most valuable links. Once you’ve figured it out where they’re getting traffic from, you can use those data to create a top-notch link building strategy for your site. Along with that, you can also take advantage of the timeline analysis to see the evolution of your site and your competitors’ sites.

 

Link Positioning

 

For a side-by-side comparison use the Compare feature. This tab becomes available when there are at least two competitors in our analysis. The maximum number of competitors is 5, except for your own site. At the same time, you can analyze data about a maximum number of 6 sites.

 

Compare links

 

The decision about the winner site, second place and so on is taken by comparing link ranks. The cognitiveSEO link rank is the one that makes the difference calculated by all the metrics from that table.

 

Step 7. Start a Strategy for Building Valuable Links

 

For a valuable addition to your backlinks profile, seek new opportunities form your competitors. In the Compare section, you can also find some link building ideas. Look at the Common links or Common domains chart:

 

 

Click on the uncommon links from your competitors because those are the links they have and you don’t, but could acquire and check the list. Make sure you order them by the Rating to see the best websites on the top. After that, it is up to you how you start your cold emailing campaign to get those links.

 

Uncommon links

 

Conclusion

 

The link auditing process presented above can be personalized for each website. It doesn’t have to include all the steps, and of course, you can mix and match until you find the best option for you. We’ve included all the information you could achieve in order to see a more complex backlink analysis and link classification.

 

It is highly beneficial to perform a link audit for your website because you can find potentially dangerous backlinks and improve your links and increase your organic traffic. And remeber always is the new black 😉.

 

As my colleague always says: The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. 

The post How to Do a Backlink Audit – The Step by Step Guide appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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