How To Do A Backlink Audit In Under 45 Minutes

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Don’t build another link until you have done a backlink audit.


Think of a backlink audit as an external SEO evaluation. If your site isn’t in good shape, building more links isn’t likely to help.

A backlink audit does 2 things simultaneously:

  1. Eliminates the risk of any link penalties
  2. Shows you link building opportunities

Successful backlink audits will not only tell you what backlinks you need to build next to improve your rankings but also helps you remove any links that could be affecting your SEO.

It’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

In this blog post, I will show you a simple 3x step backlink audit process that takes less than 45 minutes to complete.

What Is A Backlink Audit?

A backlink audit analyses your current backlink profile and evaluates each link to see how good it is.

It provides you with an in-depth overview of your overall backlink profile quality and helps develop a strategy to improve it over time.

I personally love backlinks audits because they also tell me what kinds of links I need to build more of.

Backlink audits generally categorise external links into 2 categories:

  • Bad backlinks – Spammy links that damage the reputation of your domain
  • Good backlinks – Improves your domain authority and increases rankings

good links vs bad links

A regular backlink audit is so essential to maintain strong SEO and rankings.

Why Should You Do A Backlink Audit?

Think of a backlink audit like the check you do before buying a home.

You check every inch of the house looking for potentially costly issues that could affect the house in the future or need immediate repair.

A backlink audit reviews your entire backlink profile to ensure it’s solid and stable.

Identifying Your Bad Backlinks Can Help You Avoid Getting Penalised

Good backlinks boost your rankings, but bad links can get you penalised.

Identifying and removing links that could lead to a penalty should be priority number #1.

Google penalty recovery is hard work.

google penalty recovery search logistics

It takes a lot of time and effort to regain trust with Google.

An in-depth backlink audit will identify any links that could potentially get you penalised.

Removing Your Spammy Links Can Help You Boost Your Traffic & Rankings

Spammy links can stop your rankings from growing.

As soon as Google thinks you are up to something dodgy, they will stop promoting your site in the SERPs. Removing these spammy links has the opposite effect.

Every time you remove a bad link, you tell search engines:

Don’t associate me with that website.

The result can be an immediate boost in search engine rankings and an increase in traffic.

How To Complete A Backlink Audit Step By Step

Most agencies charge $2,500 to $4,500 for a complete backlink audit.

Their audits can take up to 20+ hours for a complete review, depending on the size of your backlink profile.

Now I know you don’t have a spare 20 hours.

So use my 3x steps backlink audit process to do a complete review of your links in less than 45 minutes.

Step 1: Analyse Your Backlinks

First up, you need to do a solid analysis of your links.

By the end of step one, you will know the quality of each link and be able to decide whether it’s a good link to keep or a bad one to disavow.

There are 2 ways to analyse your backlinks:

  • Method #1 – The free but slow way
  • Method #2 – The way you should do it

I’ll show you how to implement both methods, but method 2 will save you a bit of time and is more accurate.

Method #1: Investigate Each Link Manually

For Method #1, you will rely on Google Search Console to get a complete list of your backlinks and investigate each one.

Login to Google Search Console, click on Links and then Export Your External Links.

google search console export external links

You should have a complete list of backlinks that Google search console has found.

google search console downloaded external links

You now need to manually review each link on the list to identify spammy/bad links.

Low-quality links come from:

  • Spammy websites
  • Low authority sites
  • Untrusted forums or directories

Use this link building checklist to see how each of your backlinks compares.


With method #1, you rely purely on your ability to effectively identify low-quality links with your own eyes.

Method #2: Use A Backlink Analysis Tool

A backlink analysis tool makes it easy to do a complete backlink audit in minutes…

…Not hours.

The tools do all of the heavy liftings. All you have to do is make the necessary changes. Use any of the following backlink tools to do a thorough backlink audit.

Option 1: Backlink Blacklist Tool

The backlink blacklist is a database of over 60,000+ blacklisted domains.

backlink blacklist tool

It immediately checks your entire backlink profile for any backlinks that:

  • Are known guest post farms
  • Are PBN’s
  • Are sold via cold outreach
  • Have “write for us” pages
  • Have failed internal quality control checks

In other words, it identifies any backlinks that could be hurting your SEO or might lead to a Google penalty. The best part?

It’s completely FREE for you to use.

How To Use The Backlink Blacklist Tool
Login to Google Search Console, click on “Links” and then “Export Your External Links”.

google search console export external links

Copy all of the links, paste them into the Backlink Blacklist tool and click “Check My Links Now”.

check links on blacklist

You can quickly see if any of your links are from blacklisted domains.

Found a blacklisted domain?

Under “reason”, you can see WHY the backlink has been blacklisted. To go further, you can also click on the link to see the proof.

blacklist results

The Backlink Blacklist tool quickly identifies any backlinks you need to remove from your backlink profile.

Option 2: Ahrefs

Up next is the best backlink audit tool you can get.

Ahref’s has the biggest backlink database, second only to Google themselves. This makes it the perfect SEO tool to do a complete backlink audit.

Sign up for the Ahref’s trial. Enter your domain into Ahref’s Open Site Explorer.

ahrefs open site explorer

Now click on the referring domains tab.

ahrefs referring domains

This gives you a complete list of your backlinks. It also gives you a ton of information about each backlink such as what type of link it is and its domain rating.

Use this information to understand the quality of your links.

Check out all of the cool features they offer with my complete Ahrefs review.

Option 3: Semrush

Semrush makes it super easy to identify bad backlinks quickly.

They have a set of unique metrics so you can immediately gauge the overall quality of any backlink in your profile.

Use the following link to get yourself an exclusive 14-day free trial on Semrush.

Create a new project and add in your domain.

new semrush project

Now on the left, click Backlink Audit.

semrush backlink audit

Here you will see a ton of backlink auditing features. Click on the Audit tab.

toxic backlinks

Semrush will give you a complete list of your links and the overall toxicity score. This score is based out of 100, with higher scores representing more spammy links.

It’s easy to start identifying bad backlinks you need to remove.

Semrush has lots of other cool backlinks and SEO features.

Learn about how to use the best features to increase your search traffic in my full Semrush review.

Option 4: LinkResearchTools

LinkResearchTools does a lot of great things.

But by far its best feature is LinkDetox for link audits.

link detox

LinkResearchTools does a complete backlink analysis of your website. It then provides you with an overall Link Detox Risk score.

link detox risk score

This score ultimately tells you how risky your entire backlink profile is.

This alone is a great feature, but LinkResearchTools doesn’t stop there…

It automatically creates a checklist of things to do to decrease your Link Detox Risk score and makes your backlink profile stronger overall.

It really is one of the best SEO tools for the job.

Watch this video below on how to use LinkResearchTools to analyse your backlinks:

Step 2: Check And Remove Google Penalties

You should have now identified any bad or spammy links in your backlink profile. Next, you need to check for Google penalties.

There are 2 types of Google penalties:

  • Manual
  • Algorithmic

If you have been hit with either of these, you need to get the penalty removed.

Google Penalty Illustration

But before you proceed, you need to identify what type of penalty it is…

Manual Penalties

Manual penalties are when a member of Google’s webspam team manually hands your website a penalty.

Your site gets flagged in the system and after consideration, they decide to manually take action against your site.

These are the easiest to detect but often take the longest to recover from.

How To Remove A Manual Penalty
If you have received a manual Google penalty, you will be notified in Google Search Console.

gsc manual action message

This notification will tell you-

  • Why you received the penalty
  • What needs to be done to fix the issue

Once you know what needs to be fixed, you can address the issue directly. Then you just click the request review button in Google Search Console.

Manual penalties are tricky to resolve, so if you’re not confident, get a professional SEO agency to take care of it.

Algorithmic Penalties

Algorithmic penalties require a little more investigation to diagnose.

They are automatically triggered by Google’s search algorithm rather than by a human. There are two algorithmic penalties you need to worry about:

  1. Google Panda penalty
  2. Google Penguin penalty

google penalties

The Google Penguin penalty relates directly to bad backlinks that Google thinks you have built purposely to manipulate their algorithm.

How To Remove An Algorithmic Penalty

The way to remove algorithmic penalties is through the process of elimination.

You need to fix all of your website issues including disavowing low-quality and spammy links.

Thankfully Google makes it really easy to identify any issues affecting your site.

Login to Google Search Console and look through each of the reports:

  • Performance
  • Indexing
  • Experience
  • Enhancements
  • Security & Manual Actions

google search console reports

Any issues that you are seeing in these reports need to be addressed.

Need extra help to deal with your penalty? Follow my Google penalty recovery tutorial for a complete guide on removing Google penalties.

Step 3: Create A Strategy To Fix And Improve Your Link Structure

Now it’s time to replace all those dodgy links with high-quality links.

Here’s how to create a fully customised link building strategy that improves your entire backlink profile.

1. Start Building Quality Links Only

When it comes to link building…

More is not always more.

You don’t want to build lots of links. You only want to build high-quality links. That means using the right link building strategies to get external links that improve your rankings.

The fastest way to build high-quality backlinks is using my link building checklist.

Download the link building checklist PDF

The link building checklist is the same checklist and process we use for our clients to ensure that we only ever build links that help them rank.

If the link passes the checklist, you can be confident it will benefit your rankings.

Download It Here

2. Fix & Replace Your Broken Links

If you have a big website…

You’ll likely have broken links. Google uses your site’s internal links to crawl and better understand your site.

That means broken links on your website could be damaging your SEO.

Use Ahrefs to identify any broken links on your site.

broken links

There are 2 types of broken links to fix:

  1. Internal links between your website pages
  2. External links where you linked out to another website

Make sure that you fix all of your broken links so that there are no 404 errors.

Want a quick SEO hack?

Internal link building is the most underused SEO strategy you should be taking advantage of. Follow my internal link building tutorial to learn how to build powerful internal links that increase your search rankings.

3. Increase Your DA (Domain Authority) And PA (Page Authority)

Domain authority measures how likely your website is to rank in the search results.

Your website receives a domain authority score out of 100. The higher the number, the more likely your website will rank.

The domain authority metric is calculated based purely on your backlink profile. As you get more quality links, your domain authority will increase.

how is domain authority calculated

That’s why it’s considered one of the gold standard metrics in SEO.

The best way to increase your domain authority is by:

  • Creating great content that naturally attracts quality backlinks
  • Replicating your competitor’s backlinks

Follow my how to increase domain authority tutorial to learn how to grow your domain authority step by step.

Wrapping It Up

Frequent backlinks audits are essential for long-term SEO success.

But they don’t have to be complicated.

Use my simple process to ensure that your backlink profile doesn’t get out of control. Identify bad backlinks and remove them quickly.

Then turn your attention to acquiring only high-quality links.

Make sure you take advantage of my free link building checklist. This is the easiest (and fastest) way to evaluate every link in your profile.

Frequently Asked Questions

A backlink audit is a complete evaluation of every backlink you have pointing at your website. Backlink audits help you identify both bad and good backlinks. Then you can focus on creating the right strategy to deal with the bad backlinks and get more quality backlinks.
An example of a backlink is simply a hyperlink that points from someone else’s website to your website. It creates a link between both websites.
The best way to check your backlinks is by using a backlink checker. The best backlink checkers are Ahrefs and Semrush. They give you a complete list of every backlink you have pointing at your website and also evaluate the overall quality of each one.
Backlink analysis is done by using the following steps:
    1. Use a backlink checker to find your competitors ranking URLs
    2. Find all of your competitor's backlink data
    3. Use a backlink analysis tool to analyse the backlink data
    4. Create a strategy to build more backlinks to your website

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