Link and SEO audits are usually conducted to identify problems with site ranking or a change in site positioning in searches. They are also used to identify opportunities and assess the status of campaigns to improve ranking. Sometimes opportunities are missed, especially when a link audit is conducted for the sole purpose of identifying the root cause of a drop or change in ranking due to research.

With hundreds of updates to the Google search algorithm and the major search engines, it’s a good idea to broaden your focus with a link or SEO audit .

Likewise, before assuming that any change in the search ranking is based on your link building, ask yourself these five questions to better prepare your audit:

1. Do other points change the ranking?

With all of  Google’s algorithm updates that involve devaluing link sources in recent years, it’s no surprise that marketers and site publishers jump straight into a link audit if they feel a potential problem.

It is first important to check if there may be other problems. Different culprits can change the way traffic comes in, or how your site appears in search results. For example:

  • Check the data in your analysis tool if the traffic seems really off. Sometimes the tracking codes may disappear due to site updates.
  • The content of a website or landing page could lead to a change in ranking with the algorithm, especially if it is duplicated or deemed too “thin”.
  • Outgoing links could point to sites that have been devalued or that are considered spam.
  • There could be technical problems if a backup has been restored or a site has been migrated recently, think about 301 redirects, etc.
  • Is your site mobile-friendly? Recent updates to the mobile algorithm can create ranking problems for your site.

2. Has there been a recent algorithm update?

Don’t automatically assume there is a link problem with a Google update. Frequent, regular, but minor updates occur all the time. These small updates don’t get the same hype as major updates like Penguin, which means they can happen out of your control.

If you saw some change in the ranking of your site, and it was not around the dates of a major update, your site may have been hit by a less frequent update. Keep an eye on Mozcast to monitor updates and volatility in the algorithms.

3. Are you looking at all of your links?

You cannot assume that just because you have always built high-quality organic ties that these endure. When you’re checking out and looking for bad links, don’t limit your search to recently constructed links.

Go back to the first links you created, how is it going to play a role in your ranking , you have to look at everything even those that you have already confirmed as safe and beneficial.

4. Do you look beyond the tools of the Webmaster Tools?

Although Google recommends that you trust webmaster tools to monitor your links, their platform does not necessarily provide all of the data that you want to collect when auditing a link profile. The best approach to any type of data analysis is to aggregate and compare your data from multiple sources.

Combine your data with third-party tools such as Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs, as well as on Google and Bing. In this way, you can spot artificial links which may not appear in your Webmaster Tools or in third-party tools.

5. Have you studied your competitors?

Whenever you check, even for links, you should also check your competitor’s performance. The ranking of your competitors absolutely affects your own visibility. If your competitors decide to pursue an aggressive strategy to develop their visibility, they could be responsible for the fall of your site in the search results.

This verification work should be done for both mobile and desktop searches, since the results vary depending on the device that your audience uses and your competitors can target one or the other. SEMrush and Sistrix help identify the requests of your competitors (even their applications).

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