What Is a Backlink Profile and Why Do You Need One?

what is a backlink profile

Fleetwood Mac once mused, “You’ve gotta prove your love to me.”

Interestingly enough, Google feels much the same way. But instead of grand gestures of undying affection, what Google cares about are backlinks.

And like it or not, the types of backlinks a website receives – which are all part of that site’s backlink profile – can make all the difference between languishing in obscurity and nabbing a coveted spot in Google’s top search results.

With the right strategies and knowledge, you can harness this powerful (yet often misunderstood) aspect of SEO to boost your clients’ traffic and authority online.

In this article, we’ll cover our backlink profile definition and why it matters, show why you need to pay attention to the kinds of links your clients are getting, and illustrate how you can improve their profiles for better SEO results.

Key Takeaways

  • Your client’s backlink profile serves as their portfolio of recommendations from other sites
  • An exemplary backlink profile includes a diverse set of high-quality and relevant links from trusted sources
  • Backlink profile health requires consistent monitoring and management (using tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, and Semify’s white label dashboard)
  • A step-by-step backlink profile analysis process can help you determine where improvements can be made

What Is a Backlink Profile?

what is backlink profile

At its core, a backlink profile is a collection of all the backlinks that point to a given website.

But not all backlinks are created equal.

There are those that enhance a site’s credibility in the eyes of search engines, and there are others that could potentially harm a site’s standing in search. Still others are relatively neutral, neither helping or hurting in any significant way.

Single links matter, but the way in which those links are gathered and combined over time – as part of a backlink profile – will make a difference in how Google views your client’s site is viewed by search engines.

By identifying what an ideal backlink profile looks like and how to spot a poor one, as well as understanding the importance of diversifying anchor text and the pitfalls of over-optimization, you can help your clients acquire better, more diverse links that will improve both their rankings and their perceived authority.

Backlink Profile Basics

What many people fail to realize is that a site’s backlinks are one of its strongest ranking signals, meaning they carry a lot of weight in Google’s algorithm ranking calculations. A robust backlink profile acts as a beacon for search engines, allowing the credibility and authority of a website to shine through the darkness and guide others to a safe harbor of solutions.

But what exactly is meant by “robust” in this context? Typically, a good backlink profile values quality over quantity – but it should also have a healthy number of backlinks from a variety of respected sources. In other words, you’ll need to diversify.

Think of diversifying a client’s backlinks like spreading your investments in the stock market. By securing backlinks from a variety of credible sources – and including a wide range of visible text anchors for those links – you’ll minimize the risk of being penalized by search engines for over-optimization or coming across as spammy, all while helping your clients be viewed as trustworthy by association.

Ultimately, this can help your clients stay resilient in the face of algorithm updates and other SEO changes while boosting their presence to their target online audience.

In order to accomplish that goal, however, you’ll need to have a clear picture of what makes a strong profile (as well as what makes a weak one) so you can make more informed link-building decisions.

What Does a Good Backlink Profile Look Like?

Back in the early days of SEO, it was common to focus on link quantity. Search engines weren’t always so skilled at determining the value of linking domains, which means it really was a numbers game. At that time, more equaled better.

But now, it’s a completely different story. While you still see spammy link-building tactics being performed, Google cares much more about the quality, diversity, and relevance of the links pointing to a website. Now, it’s much better to have 100 great links than 2,000 spammy ones.

The ideal profile boasts backlinks from authoritative sites that share a connection with your client’s niche or industry. This ultimately showcases the credibility of your client’s site and helps it rank more effectively in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s viewed as a testament to a website’s value, indicating to Google that the site’s content is not only worth indexing but also deserving of a prominent position in search results.

While these backlinks need to come from authoritative sources, the overall diversity of a backlink profile matters just as much. A healthy mix of backlinks from various sources – blogs, news sites, and quality directories, for instance – combined with a variety of different anchors will signal to search engines that your client’s backlink profile was built naturally over time. It suggests that, rather than follow a spammy or pay-to-play model, your clients have made the effort to publish content that different webmasters across the internet find valuable enough to link to organically.

For best results, those webmasters’ sites should have real, established traffic that can result in actual link clicks. In addition to the site’s vertical and how well it aligns with your client’s niche, you’ll also want to pay attention to the linking domain’s perceived authority or rating, comparative to other sites on the web. You can use a tool like SEMrush’s Domain Rating Checker or Moz’s Website Authority Checker to assess which sites might provide the highest link-building value.

To sum up, a healthy backlink profile might contain a good mix of the following:

Source Type

Anchor Text Variation



Natural Phrases


News Sites

Exact Match

Moderate to High




Generally speaking, a high-quality backlink profile contains a variety of link types (including editorial, press releases, guest posts, and directories); a combination of follow and no-follow links (some say a 60-40 ratio is a good goal); and an assortment of anchors (including branded, exact-match, generic, and naked URLs). With all three of these categories, you should make every effort to build a profile that appears as natural as possible while still pursuing the best link-building opportunities as part of your SEO strategy.

What Does a Bad Backlink Profile Look Like?

Traditionally speaking, a client’s profile has ample room for improvement if it’s a minefield of low-quality, irrelevant links. If they’ve participated in link exchanges, they’ve purchased links outright, or they’ve had links built through link farms or other shady practices, your client’s site may appear untrustworthy by association. While these tactics may once have had positive effects in the past, search engines now view these links with skepticism at best and condemnation at worst.

It’s not just poor quality links that can act as warning bells to Google. Over-optimization of exact match anchor text links can also be a big red flag. Although it might seem beneficial to include target keywords in your link-building practices, you can easily have too much of a good thing. In many cases, it can set off Google’s “spidey senses” that you’re trying to manipulate rankings, which can impact your client’s perceived integrity and even trigger penalties that can tank their rankings for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of over-optimization, you’ll want to be careful about your linking domains or link attributions, as well. While neither repeated linking domains or having lots of do-follow links are inherently bad, they can spell trouble if used to excess.

Link juice can be passed from one site to another, but acquiring more than one link from the same domain won’t necessarily double the amount of juice you get. That said, it’s not uncommon to naturally receive more than one link from the same website. In fact, Ahrefs found that almost 80% of websites that rank within the top 10 SERP spots for at least one keyword publish two or more links to the same domain. It’s a phenomenon that happens naturally, particularly when a respected website is linking to another trusted information resource.

Still, that doesn’t mean your clients should obtain the majority of their backlinks from the same domain. Not only does a diverse link profile suggest that your client’s site is helpful and valuable to a variety of people, but it can also protect your clients in the event that a site is unexpectedly shuttered or their links are suddenly removed. A link profile with very few referring, repeated domains has significant room for growth. It would be wise to take a closer look at how relevant those links are for your clients and whether the total number of links might look suspicious to search engines. However, this may not necessarily be cause for alarm.

In reviewing a link profile for clients, you’ll also want to pay attention to the type of link attributions they’ve received. While most marketers will agree that do-follow links are the gold standard, that doesn’t mean they’re always better than no-follow links 100% of the time.

A follow link from a low-quality website isn’t going to help your client more than a no-follow link from a highly reputable source like the New York Times, for example. Although the NYT link might not pass any link juice, it’s still a great source of traffic that can boost your client’s reputation. In addition, acquiring only follow links with an absence of no follows can appear manipulative. Google might assume your client is paying for follow links in an effort to cheat the system.

While no-follow links typically indicate that the referring domain simply doesn’t want to endorse the website for whatever reason, that isn’t necessarily an indicator that your client’s site is considered untrustworthy. Search engines recognize that many websites publish no-follow links by default. No-follow links don’t count against you; they just don’t really give you a direct endorsement, either. However, they’re a natural consequence of publishing good content – and Google expects to see some in any link profile. Without them, Google might think something’s fishy about your client’s site and their approach to SEO.

Aim For: High-Quality Backlinks and Varied Anchors

When it comes to link-building, quality is key. Your clients’ links should come from reputable, well-regarded sites within a similar industry or niche. Acquiring quality links for your clients can boost their site’s authority in the eyes of search engines while driving meaningful, engaged traffic.

Just as important as link quality is link text variation. When building backlinks for your clients, you’ll want to give careful consideration to the keyword phrases, branded terms, and generic words used in the clickable text portion of the hyperlinks pointing to your client’s site. Maintaining diversity here can help clients avoid having the appearance of manipulative SEO tactics to search engines, but it also arguably creates a better experience for users.

Together, these two factors can indicate a healthy link profile that can build trust and authority while improving rankings and traffic.

Avoid: Over-Optimized Anchor Text

Search engine optimization can do wonders for helping your clients be found online. But it’s easy to take it too far – especially with link text. When too many links to your client’s site use the exact same keyword-rich phrases, this can make their overall profile look spammy or artificial to search engines. This overuse alerts Google that you might be attempting to manipulate search results, a practice that can lead to big penalties that can disrupt rankings progress.

These penalties can have an impact on your client’s PageRank, which Google uses to evaluate a site’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust). When a site’s PageRank is negatively impacted, it can affect where that site appears in SERPs. And if your client’s site doesn’t appear as prominently in organic search results, it’s going to inherently receive less traffic – and that can tank your strategic efforts overall.

The chart below shows the potential consequences that can come with over-optimization (or under-optimization!) of visible link text, as well as recommendations for positive outcomes.


Direct Impact

Recommended Action

Over-Utilizing Exact Match Link Text

Negative: Potential Google Penalties

Employ a diverse range of keywords and phrases when building links

Using Natural Phrases

Positive: Enhanced Site Trust

Continue to diversify link text, including branded terms, long-tail keywords, and generic phrases

Ignoring Link Text Diversification

Negative: Lower PageRank and SERP Presence

Regularly review and adjust your SEO strategy to ensure optimal variety in anchors

Overall, diverse and natural-looking anchors rank better and help sites avoid the harsh scrutiny of search algorithms. Rather than reduce link quantity to avoid over-optimized anchors, you should focus on enhancing link quality, diversity, and applicability while being mindful of the visible link text being published. This can help your clients avoid potential penalties while improving user experience and authority.

Understanding Link Relevance

The degree to which the content published on a linking page relates to that of your client’s website can impact a link’s relative value and how it may move the rankings needle. In other words, you need to ensure that the sites linking to your client’s site make logical sense.

When Google makes a rankings determination, it assesses both the quality and applicability of the links pointing to a given site. Relevant links are considered a vote of confidence from one site to another, underscoring a site’s authority on a particular subject or industry. When it’s clear that a link comes from a site that’s pertinent to what your client does, that’s going to be seen as a natural fit that benefits web users.

Irrelevant links, on the other hand, can do more harm than good. Google may view an irrelevant link as an attempt to trick its algorithm, which can come with steep penalties. Too many irrelevant links will appear spammy and can ultimately keep your clients from appearing prominently in SERPs; in some cases, they could cause your client to be excluded from search results entirely.

Keep in mind that there are degrees of what’s considered relevant. Just because a site has decent traffic and a healthy domain rating doesn’t automatically mean it’s a good fit for your client. If your client owns a restaurant and you’re getting them a lot of links from websites in medical, industrial, or entertainment news niches, those links aren’t going to be nearly as beneficial for your client as ones from sites in a food, business, or local events vertical. The literal link may be there, but the figurative one won’t be! You’ll often need to employ your best judgment to discern which sites are a great match versus too much of a stretch.

Overall quality can also affect how relevant a link is (or how much it actually matters in practice). Highly respected national news sources, for example, cover a wide variety of subjects. If you happen to secure a do-follow link for your clients from a site like this, the content’s subject and its relation to your client certainly matters – but the genre of the website itself probably won’t be called into question. Conversely, a small-scale industry blog or a lesser known news site should have a clear connection to your client’s industry or expertise, both on the individual post level and on a broader, site-wide level.

The chart below shows how acquiring backlinks from web pages closely connected to your client’s niche can pay off:

Link Source

Relevance Rating

Impact on SEO

Industry blogs



General news websites



Irrelevant directories



When building a backlink profile, it’s essential to focus on quality over quantity – and link relevance plays a major role in quality. Without this piece of the puzzle, your efforts to improve your client’s standing in SERPs may fall flat. Strategically attracting links from highly relevant sources can enhance your client’s perceived authority and trust while building relationships with high-caliber publishers and driving traffic to both sites.

Where to Find Your Backlink Profile

Improving a client’s link profile will require you to first analyze what already exists. So where can you find it?

Google Search Console is a great place to start; if you have access to this resource, you can access a detailed overview of who links to your client’s site, as well as how your client’s site links to itself internally. You can also use Google Analytics to take a closer look at referral traffic, which can indicate which external pages drive traffic for your clients (though you’ll have to do some detective work yourself to connect the dots).

But to bolster your link-building strategy, you’ll need more than the basics that Google provides. For a deeper dive, tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs – or Semify’s white label dashboard, which gives you access to a plethora of SEMrush and Ahrefs data – are priceless resources. These platforms provide you with a granular look at your client’s link profile, including link volume, link quality, rating/authority of linking domains, anchor text diversity, and more.

Remember, the goal is not merely to gather data but to gain actionable insights. What matters most is how you use this information to refine your link-building strategy for clients. As your SEO fulfillment partner, we can make this process even easier by importing all of the data you need directly into our dashboard in real time via APIs (and helping you make sense of it all through strategic support!).

Backlink Profile Analysis: A Step-By-Step Guide

Using third-party tools can help you understand how your client’s site is being perceived across the web. By observing fluctuations in your client’s PageRank, analyzing the quality of backlinks, and identifying potentially harmful links early on will empower you to make data-driven decisions that align with your marketing strategy and safeguard your client’s reputation online.

That said, performing a backlink profile analysis can be a complex process. Whether you handle this yourself or entrust a partner like Semify to determine the strength of your client’s profile and identify areas for improvement, you’ll generally want to follow a systematic approach like the one outlined below.

Step #1: Look at Referring Domains

You’ll want to start your backlink profile analysis by taking a closer look at the domains that have already published links to your client’s site. Whether your clients have engaged in link-building efforts in the past or these links were acquired naturally, this can give you a better idea of how diverse and authoritative their average link source is before you do any additional link-building work.

Dive deep to discover the nature of their referring domains. Are they esteemed industry blogs? Authoritative news outlets? Niche-specific web forums? While it’s not a hard and fast rule, these categories and their impact can usually be broken down by value as shown in the chart below.

Referring Domain Type


Authority Impact

Industry Blogs



News Outlets


Moderate to Strong

Niche Forums



You should also take the time to analyze domains based on their domain rating or authority, which can give you additional insights as to how those referring websites are perceived. Since do-follow links can pass link “power” from one site to another, it’s beneficial to your clients if these referring websites have a notable DR or DA to indicate relative value. This can show you where your client’s strongest support comes from and where you might need to foster new relationships or enhance existing ones to bolster their standing in SERPs.

Step #2: Check the Number of Backlinks

While quality matters more than quantity, you should still pay attention to backlink volume when analyzing a client’s complete link profile. The number of links they’ve received can give you a broad idea of how popular or established their site is in the digital space. Although more doesn’t automatically equal better here, an older site with widely recognized and robust content will typically have more backlinks than a new site with very few written and visual assets. In many cases, you can use link volume to determine a site’s potential reach and influence – or discern whether your client received bad SEO advice in the past.

Backlink velocity is crucial here, as well. The rate at which new backlinks are acquired can make the difference between a good profile and a bad one – and this is where context really comes into play. A sudden spike in new links could mean your client’s content has gone viral, but it could also signal unnatural link-building efforts, which could attract Google penalties. Spammy SEOs have been known to build hundreds of low-quality links at a time in an effort to manipulate search engines. But if all the links are of a certain caliber and can be traced back to a specific story that really took off, your client isn’t likely to be penalized as a result. Overall, maintaining a healthy link profile requires a delicate balance of quantity and pace – so don’t rely on a singular viral moment to develop a healthy profile.

Finally, you’ll want to scrutinize the distribution of backlinks. Are they evenly spread across your client’s website, or are they concentrated on specific pages? While having a concentration of backlinks pointed at a certain page isn’t necessarily bad, it’s usually more beneficial to maintain consistent, site-wide link growth; this indicates the overall worthiness of an entire site, rather than a single piece of content. If you know which pages are already receiving attention, you can make more informed decisions about your future link-building efforts (and even your larger content strategy moving forward).

Step #3: Zero In on Anchor Text

While it often goes overlooked, the clickable text within hyperlinks can tell both marketers and search engines quite a lot. Ideally, your clients should have a rich variety of anchor texts within their profile of links. Diversity can help your clients avoid over-optimization penalties while maintaining a natural-looking profile – and that really is the ultimate goal.

Your client’s anchors should include a broad range of related phrases, with a mix of branded, generic, and keyword-rich options that provide additional context to both human readers and search bots. Finding the right balance here can be challenging, but it’s worthwhile. This can help search crawlers categorize your client’s site more effectively while building trust with web users (who want to know what they’re getting into before they click!).

Conventional SEO wisdom tells us that the majority of your client’s anchors should be comprised of:

  • Branded anchors (i.e., your client’s company name)
  • Naked URLs (i.e.,
  • Generic anchors (i.e., “click here,” “visit,” “learn more,” etc.)


Partial-match and exact-match anchors, which usually contain target keywords related to both your client’s linked content and their overall SEO strategy, should be used more mindfully. While they can be effective, overuse will dilute your efforts and run the risk of raising a red flag to Google. We talk much more about the art of anchor text selection, especially as it pertains to guest post links, in our 2024 guide to SEO backlinks.

If your client has too many keyword-rich anchors, you may want to look for other signs of potential over-optimization. On the other end of the spectrum, if your client’s profile has only generic anchors, that provides you with an opportunity to focus a bit more on some partial- and exact-match link building opportunities in the near future.

Step #4: Separate the Good From the Bad

Once you’ve done all that, you can separate the good links from the bad ones. High-quality backlinks are those that contribute positively to your client’s authority and search rankings, while poor-quality links can be an active deterrent. Keep in mind that many links are neither inherently good or bad; some may have little to no effect on how your client’s site ranks in SERPs. But for unequivocally bad links, you’ll need to take action.

The chart below shows a few basic steps you’ll want to take as you categorize your client’s existing links.




Identify low-quality links

Prevent potential penalties


Acquire reputable backlinks

Boost site’s authority


Disavow harmful links

Protect site’s reputation


If you’ve determined that there are, in fact, some spammy links that need to be dealt with to avoid potential penalties, our team can help with this identification process, as well as with disavowing any harmful links. By signaling to Google that you don’t want those links to “count” against your clients, you can help protect their reputation as a trustworthy source and potentially improve their rankings. Next, we’ll cover how to spot those bad backlinks.

Toxic Backlinks & How to Spot Them in 2024

We’ve talked about what a bad backlink profile looks like, but a few bad links does not a bad profile make. Still, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch if you aren’t careful. That’s why you’ll want to learn how to spot toxic links and deal with them properly.

Toxic backlinks are essentially poor-quality links that can negatively affect your client’s rankings. They often originate from spammy, irrelevant, or untrustworthy sources, and can be a signal to search engines that a site might not be a credible source of information.

Identifying these harmful links requires diligence and an understanding of what Google considers to be indicators of link quality. Factors such as the linking site’s irrelevance to your client’s content, the presence of keyword-stuffed anchors, or links from domains known for low-quality content should raise immediate red flags. These indicators help in pinpointing which links might harm your client’s reputation and search visibility:


Reason for Concern

Action to Take

Irrelevant Linking Domains

Indicates spam or manipulative link building

Review and potentially disavow

Over-Optimized Anchor Text

Suggests unnatural link building practices

Analyze context and disavow if spammy

Links from Low-Quality Content Sites

Reduces the credibility and trust of your site

Monitor and consider disavowing links

We can help you identify and deal with any spammy or toxic links your clients might have, as well as avoid them entirely in the future with an improved link-building strategy.

Step #5: Craft a Link-Building Strategy

Once you’ve completed a thorough analysis of your client’s backlink profile, you’ll want to use that information to develop a strategy for link-building moving forward. Your audit can tell you where your client’s vulnerabilities lie, as well as what their current strengths are. This data can point you in the right direction for building future links on their behalf.

For example, say your client already has a number of industry blog links they’ve organically received from their content. Not only can you cross these referring domains off your list of potential outreach sites (since chances are good that they could publish additional links without your efforts!), but you can also assess the kinds of linking domains that are lacking in their profile and determine an appropriate cadence for link acquisition. You’ll then be able to create a list of possible publications and outlets that are a good fit for your clients, develop even more valuable website content, and reach out to those website owners about guest blogging or broken link opportunities to continue building on your client’s existing link profile.

As your white label link-building experts, we can give you the support you need to craft an exemplary backlink strategy for clients to build trust and increase their SERP presence.

Backlink Profile Frequently Asked Questions

What is a backlink profile and how does it impact SEO?

A backlink profile is a comprehensive catalog of all the incoming links to a website, essentially capturing the volume, quality, and diversity of other web pages that link back to that site. Because we know that links are one of Google’s most important ranking signals (though it’s no longer in the top 3 ranking factors, as of last year), we can gather that search algorithms give backlinks more consideration in their calculations. That means that your client’s backlinks have a direct impact on where their site appears in organic search results.

While links certainly aren’t the only factor that affects SEO, they remain crucial to any SEO strategy. Your client’s total collection of backlinks tell the story of how valuable, trustworthy, and authoritative they are so that Google can make the right rankings determinations about where your client should appear in SERPs relative to other, similar sites.

What's the most important consideration when developing a great backlink profile?

Diversity, quality, and relevance are the top 3 considerations to keep in mind here. But while diversity of links absolutely matters, whether those links are both from high-quality sources and are relevant to your clients are even more crucial. Quality and relevance often go hand-in-hand, but they are distinctly different metrics. A backlink’s quality can be determined by things like monthly traffic and domain rating/authority, while relevance refers to how aligned the referring domain is with the industry, niche, and topics of the site receiving the link. A relevant link will share contextual or thematic similarities to your client’s site, while a link from a high-quality site can have a positive effect on your client’s reputation and perception.

Where can you locate and access a backlink profile for analysis?

To analyze your website’s backlink profile, you can utilize tools like Google Search Console, SEMrush, or the Semify white label dashboard to access data involving the types and sources of your client’s backlinks. These platforms provide deep data analytics and visualization to help you understand your client’s backlink landscape, identifying both the strengths and areas for improvement within their backlink portfolio.

Why is analyzing a backlink profile crucial for improving a website's SEO performance?

With SEO, ignorance is anything but bliss. To set your clients up for SEO success, you’ll need to have a crystal clear idea of which sites are linking to theirs and whether those sites are helping or hurting. Analyzing their backlink profile offers insights into the websites linking to your client’s site, which has a direct influence on their search rankings. Moreover, this analysis helps identify and remove potentially harmful links that could damage your client’s credibility and visibility in Google Search.

How can a strong backlink profile help drive exceptional SEO results?

Google views backlinks as an endorsement of sorts. When a well-respected website gives your client’s site a proverbial thumbs up, Google generally values and trusts that endorsement. A strong backlink profile can significantly enhance your SEO efforts by improving a site’s visibility and credibility in the eyes of search engines, leading to higher rankings in Google search results and increased organic traffic. Further, it signals to algorithms that your client’s website is a valuable resource, which can increase both web traffic and other citations from reputable sources.

Knowing What is a Backlink Profile is Only the Beginning

A high-quality, diverse, and relevant backlink profile is essential for boosting any client’s SEO performance, as it signals credibility and authority to Google while driving more traffic to their site.

But while having a strong link portfolio remains a vital part of successful SEO strategies, link-building can be both time-consuming and complex, leaving little room for many agency owners and enterprise teams to focus on growing their business and delivering other services for their clients.

At Semify, we can give you the link-building support you need to deliver better results for clients as you scale. To learn more about our white label link building services, get in touch with us today.