What is Backlink Monitoring and Why Does it Matter?

Backlink monitoring refers to the process of tracking and analyzing the backlinks pointing to your website over time. Backlinks are incoming links from other sites that link back to pages on your own site. Monitoring your backlinks is a crucial part of any SEO strategy.

Search engines like Google use backlinks as one of the top ranking factors when determining how to rank pages in search results. The more quality backlinks you have from authoritative sites, the higher your pages will rank for relevant keywords.

Backlink monitoring tools allow you to keep track of new backlinks as they are created, analyze the value of existing backlinks, and identify any toxic or poor quality links that should be disavowed. This gives you valuable insights into how your link building efforts are paying off.

With a backlink monitor, you can see which pages are getting the most new links, evaluate if your latest link building campaigns have been successful, and optimize your efforts going forward. Backlink data also informs content strategy by revealing the types of content and topics that attract the most high-value links.

In summary, backlink monitoring provides a comprehensive overview of your site’s backlink profile so you can make data-driven decisions to improve search rankings and traffic. It is an indispensable part of managing a successful SEO strategy.

How Backlinks Impact Search Rankings

Backlinks play a crucial role in search engine optimization and can directly impact your site’s rankings and visibility in search results. Google and other search engines use backlinks as one of the top factors for determining the authority and relevance of a web page.

High-quality backlinks from reputable external websites pass authority and equity to your site, signaling to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. More backlinks (also called inbound links) to a page generally correlate with higher rankings. However, not all backlinks have the same impact – search algorithms analyze the quality of sources linking to you.

Backlinks from authoritative, popular, and topically relevant sites carry more weight than links from low-quality or irrelevant pages. The better the reputation of sites linking to you, the more those backlinks boost your own domain authority in Google’s eyes.

It’s crucial to monitor your existing backlink profile so you can identify any lost or broken backlinks and take steps to recover or replace them. Lost backlinks represent a drop in equity flowing to your site, which can negatively impact search visibility. By staying on top of your links and maintaining a healthy, high-quality backlink profile, you can improve search rankings and organic traffic.

Key Features to Look for in Backlink Monitoring Tools

When selecting a backlink monitoring tool, there are a few key features you’ll want to look for to ensure it provides the data and capabilities you need:

Tracking New Backlinks Gained

A robust backlink monitor should provide alerts and reports showing new backlinks that point to your site. This allows you to identify new link building opportunities and outreach targets. The tool should track both follow and nofollow links from all types of sites.

Analyzing Anchor Text

The specific anchor text used for your backlinks has a significant impact on SEO. Your backlink tool should analyze the anchor text of all your links, highlighting the most common phrases and terms. This helps you optimize anchor text for future link building.

Identifying Toxic/Spammy Links

Your backlink profile can easily become polluted with low-quality, irrelevant, or manipulative links that may harm your site’s reputation. A good monitor flags suspicious backlinks and allows you to disavow them. This protects your site from Google penalties.

Bird’s Eye View of Your Backlink Profile

A good backlink monitoring tool will provide an easy-to-navigate dashboard that gives you a comprehensive overview of your entire backlink profile. This high-level perspective allows you to identify patterns, opportunities, and potential issues at a glance.

The dashboard view should display key backlink metrics like total backlinks, new links gained, lost links, and distribution by type (editorial, web 2.0 properties, etc). Graphs and charts make it easy to visualize the data for quick insights. You can also see the top pages and domains linking to your site.

With this bird’s eye view, you can assess the overall health of your link profile. A well-rounded profile should have a natural growth trajectory and links from a diverse range of quality sites. Too many lost links or an unnatural spike in low-quality links could signal issues needing attention.

You can also identify gaps and new link building opportunities. For example, if you notice a competitor dominating links from a certain type of site, that presents a chance to pursue relevant links and reduce the gap. The data can inform your outreach and link earning tactics.

In addition, monitoring tools let you customize the dashboard by saving different views for quick access. You can create project-specific dashboards to manage particular link building campaigns. The customizable overview enables you to track progress and optimize your efforts for maximum ROI.

By leveraging the dashboard’s high-level perspective and customization options, you can gain invaluable insight into your link profile. This bird’s eye view allows you to strategically manage your overall link building process for better search visibility.

Using Backlink Data to Guide Link Building Strategy

One of the most powerful applications of backlink monitoring is using the data to inform and optimize your overall link building strategy. By keeping close tabs on your existing links, you can allocate budget and resources more effectively to acquire new high-value backlinks.

Backlink monitors provide metrics like domain authority, page authority, and traffic estimates for linking pages. Use this data to identify potential link acquisition targets in your industry. Focus on securing links from pages with strong domain authority and traffic, as these will confer more SEO value.

You can also set benchmarks and target metrics for new links, based on analysis of your top existing backlinks. For example, aim to land links from domains with a minimum domain authority of 60. Track metrics like average domain authority per new link won to measure the success of outreach campaigns.

Monitor the growth and loss rate of links from particular domains. If certain sites consistently drop links after a period of time, deprioritize outreach to those domains. Identify sites that reliably maintain links to assess partnership potential.

Use historical link growth data to set realistic targets for link acquisition by month or quarter. Compare your link velocity to competitors to establish goals for accelerating growth.

Calculate the estimated traffic driven from new links to determine actual ROI. Balance this with the estimated costs and effort required to acquire those links. Dropping links with low ROI will help optimize your budget and improve overall return.

By regularly analyzing your link data and benchmarks, you can fine-tune your outreach strategy over time. Focus on high-authority sites where links will persist, to maximize the SEO and referral value. Use link monitoring insights to guide strategic decisions on allocating link building resources.

Top Backlink Monitoring Tools Compared

There are a variety of backlink monitoring tools available, each with their own unique features and pricing. Here’s an overview of some of the top options to consider:


Ahrefs is one of the most powerful backlink analysis tools on the market. Key features include:

  • Link tracking for new, lost, and broken backlinks
  • Full backlink profile analysis
  • Metrics like URL Rating and Domain Rating
  • Competitor link analysis
  • Alerts for toxic links

Pricing starts at $99/month for the Lite plan.


SEMrush also provides robust backlink monitoring and tracking capabilities, including:

  • New and lost link notifications
  • Backlink audit to identify bad links
  • Link opportunity finder
  • Metrics like Domain Score and URL Rating
  • Competitive link analysis

Plans start at $99.95/month.

Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks focuses specifically on backlink tracking and monitoring. Features include:

  • Alerts for new, lost, and recovered backlinks
  • Analysis of new linking domains
  • Link value metrics
  • Competitor link tracking

Basic plans start at $6/month.

Choosing the Right Tool

When selecting a backlink monitoring tool, consider factors like budget, depth of analysis needed, competitor tracking, and integration with other software. Monitor Backlinks provides cost-effective tracking, while Ahrefs and SEMrush offer more robust analytics. Pick the solution that best meets your specific backlink monitoring needs.

Setting Up Backlink Monitoring

Integrating backlink monitoring into your existing SEO workflow is crucial for getting the most value from these tools. Here are some tips for incorporating backlink tracking into your process:

Add It to Your Regular SEO Tasks

Set aside time each week or month to review your latest backlink data. Checking on your links should become part of your routine SEO activities, just like monitoring rankings or optimizing content. Schedule this task in your calendar to help stay consistent.

Configure Alerts and Notifications

Most backlink monitoring tools allow you to customize alerts based on certain metrics or events. For example, you can receive notifications when you gain or lose a backlink from a specific site or page. Configure alerts that are most relevant for your goals.

Learn to Interpret the Data

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the backlink metrics these tools provide. Focus on key data like your total backlinks, new links gained or lost, and top linking domains or pages. Use the data to identify issues and opportunities.

Document Your Findings

Keep records of insights from your backlink tracking to inform your link building and content strategy. Having this intel readily available makes it easier to spot trends and capitalize on what’s working.

Act on What You Learn

The point of backlink monitoring is to take action based on the data. Use it to reach out and build relationships with new linkers, recover lost links, and expand your presence on quality sites.

Recovering Lost or Broken Backlinks

One of the most valuable uses of a backlink monitoring tool is to identify lost or broken backlinks pointing to your site. These are links that previously existed but have since been removed or are now returning 404 errors. Recovering such links can provide an SEO boost by restoring valuable signals that impact search engine rankings.

The first step is using your backlink monitoring tool to recognize links that no longer appear. The tool should indicate links that have dropped off compared to a previous snapshot. You can also do a manual check of important link pages to see if your link still exists.

Once lost links are identified, you need to do outreach to try and reclaim those links. This involves contacting the webmaster or author of the page and politely asking them to reinstate your link. Provide context on why they had originally linked to you and emphasize that their link provides value to their own users.

For broken links, you similarly need to contact the site owner and request they update the URL so it correctly points to your page. Offer to help them redirect the broken link or give them the proper link to restore.

To maintain existing backlinks, it’s also a good idea to regularly check up on your most important linking pages. Make sure your link still appears and request they notify you if they intend to remove or change the link for any reason. The goal is to never lose links without at least having a chance to recover them.

With ongoing backlink monitoring and maintenance of your existing link portfolio, you can minimize lost links and preserve the SEO value of your earned backlinks over time.

Disavowing Toxic and Spammy Backlinks

One of the most valuable uses of a backlink monitoring tool is identifying toxic or spammy backlinks that could potentially harm your site’s reputation and search rankings. Google’s algorithm penalizes sites that build or acquire links from low-quality sites, so it’s crucial to stay on top of your backlink profile and disavow any questionable links.

Common signs of a toxic backlink include:

  • The linking site has a high proportion of outbound links, especially in the footer or sidebar.
  • The anchor text for your backlink uses aggressive keywords not representative of the content.
  • The linking content provides little to no value to users.
  • Your link appears alongside other spammy or irrelevant links.

Once you’ve identified harmful links pointing to your site, the next step is to use Google’s Disavow Tool to inform Google you want to disassociate from those links. The Disavow Tool is available in Google Search Console – log in and navigate to “Disavow links.”

To disavow backlinks:

  1. Upload a CSV file containing the harmful URLs you want to disavow.
  2. Select the option to disavow the entire domain if a large portion of links from a site are spammy.
  3. Click Disavow Links and confirm.

It may take some time for Google to process your disavowed links. Avoid disavowing all links at once unless you’re absolutely certain they are low quality. Use backlink monitoring to routinely audit new links and disavow only confirmed spammy or irrelevant links.

Consistently monitoring and managing your backlink profile will protect your site’s reputation with Google and prevent your rankings from being impacted by toxic links.

Advanced Backlink Analysis Techniques

Once you have a solid understanding of your own backlink profile, you can take your analysis to the next level by evaluating backlink quality, performing competitor research, and optimizing your content strategy.

Evaluating Backlink Quality and Relevance

Not all backlinks are created equal. Analyzing backlink quality and relevance is crucial for determining the true SEO value of your links. Here are some techniques:

  • Review linking domain metrics like DA, PA, spam score, etc.
  • Analyze the anchor text of your backlinks for optimization
  • Check if linking pages are relevant to your site’s niche
  • Assess if backlinks come from authoritative, trustworthy sources
  • Identify toxic links from low-quality sites to disavow

By digging into backlink quality signals beyond just the quantity, you can better understand the strength of your overall link profile.

Competitor Backlink Analysis

Researching how your competitors are building links can unlock new link building opportunities. Here are some tips:

  • Find sites linking to competitors but not you to identify link prospects
  • Analyze competitors’ anchor text distribution for optimization ideas
  • Discover new link building tactics used by competitors
  • Identify influential sites your competitors have links from
  • Uncover opportunities in competitor link profiles to outperform them

Regularly analyzing competitors’ latest backlinks can keep your link building strategy ahead of the curve.

Informing Content Strategy

Your backlink data can provide powerful insights to optimize your content strategy, such as:

  • Creating content assets around your most linked pages
  • Identifying high-performing topics based on linking pages
  • Strengthening pages with many external references
  • Expanding on anchor text themes to target related keywords
  • Promoting content receiving links from authoritative sites

Let your backlink profile guide your decisions on new content to create, optimize, and promote.