While it’s not fun or glamorous, it is important that site owners conduct a full link audit once a year. Depending on how long you have been engaging in link building, you might have thousands of links to sort through, but it has to be done. Digging through you link portfolio is important for several reasons. First off, it helps you identify any holes in your link building strategy. Do you have hundreds of links from blog commenting but only three local search profiles? Secondly, organizing your link portfolio will alert you to any “bad links” that are pointing to your site. A few is common, but if you are seeing hundreds of links coming from cloaked text, pornography sites, link exchanges and so forth, you might be risking a search engine penalty.
When I run a link audit on my own company (or a client’s site) I break the links down into the following categories:
AL: Article Link
An article link could come from the author’s bio of an article that you published on a 3rd party site (say as a guest blogger) or it could be a link from the body of an article itself (say your company is cited as a reference).
BC: Blog Comment
Most blogs allow readers to leave a comment with name, e-mail and URL. Your name then becomes anchor text for the URL you want.
BNL: Blog/News Link
Was your company mentioned in a blog post on a 3rd party site (like a wedding gown boutique being credited on the wedding photographer’s blog post)? Did you company get a write-up in an online newspaper or get featured in an online video feed?
BP: Business Profile
Sites like MerchantCircle, Yelp, Google Places and so forth are great places to create a local business profile. Not only do you get the link, you area also increasing your online brand presence and making it easier for potential customers to find you.
DL: Directory Link
Believe it or not, directories still have value in today’s world of SEO. Well-established directories like DMOZ help build your trust factor with the search engines.
LE: Link Exchange
These can be both bad and good. I classify links where a company is listed as a sponsor or partner as a link exchange, and these are perfectly acceptable links. Links coming from random sites in exchange for a link to theirs is not.
NA: Not Appropriate
These are links coming from pornography sites, gambling sites, non-English sites and so forth. They actually devalue your site.
Anything that doesn’t fit neatly into any of the other categories.
PR: Press Release
Online press releases are a great place to include links because they can get picked up and redistributed by other sites. One press release with 3 or 4 links could actually end up creating several hundred incoming links.
SL: Social Link
These links come from social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (the Big 3), as well as any smaller niche sites.
VM: Video Marketing
Video descriptions are a great place to incorporate a direct link to your site.