A Guide to Using Ahrefs’ Internal Backlinks Tool

Ahrefs has a plethora of useful tools and resources. If you take a look at our introductory Ahrefs blog post from a couple of years ago you can get a pretty good idea of what the site does. Since the publishing of that post, a few new features have been added. One of these features in the “Internal Backlinks” tab:

Internal backlinks located under Backlink profile in the side menu

What Does it Do?

Put simply, it shows which pages link to which pages, all within your website. Internal linking is important for site organization, user experience, and crawling ease. The Internal Backlinks tool helps you to understand your linking structure, which pages could use more links, and which pages are only ranking well because of their internal linking. 

 

Before going into the functions, let’s go into the options.

 

Setting Up a Search

Group Similar/All

The first option to toggle is whether to look at all backlinks or just the unique ones. When All is selected, it will show you all of the links of every page, including the ones that are on every page. That means it will show the link to your contact page that appears in the upper-right hand corner of the page throughout the website. This doesn’t help if you’re trying to see if you need to link to your contact page more in your blogs. When Group Similar is selected, it filters the links that appear on every page with the exact same anchor text out of the listings. 

 

Link Type

There’s a pretty wide range of link types to look at. Some of the more important ones to know about are Dofollow and Nofollow.

  • Dofollow – These are links that search engines are allowed to follow when crawling a site. Dofollow links add authority with both internal and external links.
  • Nofollow – Nofollow links do not let search engines follow them while crawling. These should largely be the links you don’t need crawlers to crawl on every single page. This means the links in the navigation bar and the footer are generally safe to be nofollow. It is also a good link type to check to make sure links that can be dofollow are attributed as such.

 

Platform

What’s available to toggle in this section depends on how your website is set up, but chances are you have the options of “All” and “Blogs.” As you’ve probably guessed, it means you can filter what types of pages you’re seeing.

 

Language

As with Platform, the languages you can check up on are just the languages that your site has. If you have a multilingual setup then you can see which pages are being linked to in all relevant languages.

 

Traffic

In Ahrefs’ own words, traffic “estimates the total monthly search traffic to the referring page from the top 100 organic search results. It is…the sum of traffic from all organic keywords.” This metric is manageable by listing your lower and upper limits for which pages you want to see, with higher numbers being better. You can use this to see which pages are getting low traffic and trying to improve them.

 

Search Bar

The search bar is useful when looking at specific keywords and/or pages. It allows you to either include or exclude, with include being the default. This means that if you have one page that performs so well it’s an outlier, you can exclude it. 

 

Targets

The final section in the search box is what you’re targeting. You can decide to focus on URLs, titles, anchor text, and/or surrounding text, depending on your needs. 

 

Examining Functions

Now let’s get into the functionality. As for link structures and seeing where you can build out, there are some pages where it makes sense that it’s easily accessible from just about every page on the website. An example of such a page would be your contact page. 

 

If I wanted to find how many blog posts linked to the contact page, I might set up my search like this:

This will show me all of the blogs that link to the contact page and the value of those pages. Since there are only 20 blog posts that fit the description, there’s probably room to add a few more, especially to higher-performing posts. 

 

If you want to know if any of your higher-performing pages owe their rank to internal linking, or if you want to improve the ranking of some of your lower performing pages, you can find those in Internal Backlinks as well. 

 

Measuring Authority

To do this, sort all the pages in the Internal backlinks section by UR (URL rating, a metric calculated by Ahrefs). When you have found a page with a high UR, search for it in the search bar, narrowing the search to only include URLs of referring pages. This will show all the pages that it already links to. If you think you can add more links with making the page oversaturated, add more. 

 

On the flip side, if you’re wondering what pages could be improved by being linked to,  sort by lowest to highest UR. Once you find a page that you think could use some more traffic, search for that page or keywords relating to that page. You will find which pages are linking to it, and which pages cover the topics discussed on the page that could serve as anchor text.

 

Utilizing These Tools

There’s obviously more you can do with Ahrefs and with this tool in particular. Understanding your links and ratings is an important step to understanding your website. To learn about how Ahrefs can help your law firm, contact Mockingbird.

How to Handle Spam Links in Google Search Console

There are countless ways to check your website’s backlink network, from ahrefs.com to Google Search console. Not surprisingly, there tend to be inconsistencies between reporting platforms. It’s a good idea to check in regularly in multiple places to make sure you know what’s going on from all angles. 

That’s what we did recently. Here’s what we found on a site we keep an eye on.

 

Google Search Console

Three spam sites showing thousands of referring links to only a handful of pages

Now, if you don’t see anything suspicious here then you must be extremely new to the business. We’re no stranger to spam attacks, and we’re pretty sure that loveyichangcity.xyz isn’t actually driving any conversions or helping our authority. Neither are any of the three sites below it.

 

I decided to check it out and see if I could fix it. Google has made it pretty clear that the disavow tool is largely useless at this point, considering the search engine has become advanced enough to be able to recognize whether or not links are spam, i.e Google probably isn’t taking loveyichangcity.xyz very seriously. 

 

I went to Google’s “Disavow Support” page, in search of support. I noticed one thing first:

Google saying to only disavow if there are a large number of spam sites and a manual action has been taken against the site

Well, since the site neither has a manual action against it, nor a huge influx of spam referrals, I probably don’t need to disavow. Then I noticed the second thing:

Google saying that disavowed links will still show up in link reports on Google Search Console

Even if I did disavow the links, they would still show up on Google Search Console. They aren’t actively causing any damage, and even if I did take action, they would still show up on the report. 

 

But are they causing an impact?

 

Ahrefs.com

I decided to hop over to ahrefs.com, just to make sure. And sure enough:

No results showing up in ahrefs.com for the spam sites

It was the same case for the other two spam sites. Not even a trace. 

 

I even went on Google Analytics and checked where referred traffic was coming from. With a time frame of over 5 years and 1,600 referring URLs, not a single user came from any of those sites. My journey had come to an anticlimactic end. 

 

What To Do If Your Links Are A Problem

Just because these links weren’t a problem doesn’t mean that negative SEO attacks aren’t a thing. Floods of spam referrals have been the downfall of many a site. So how should you handle an influx of spam?

 

Follow Google’s Disavow Support page. Disavow as many of those bad links as you can and start rebuilding your authority with reputable sites. It takes time and effort and frustration, but your site is probably salvageable. 

 

If your law firm has been hit with a negative SEO attack, contact Mockingbird. We have experience helping firms out similar binds.

Monitoring Your Internal Linking on Ahrefs

Internal linking is a key aspect of on-page SEO, but can sometimes be hard to keep track of or remember to do. When you’re writing content it’s likely that creating anchor text is the last thing on your mind. If you want to learn more about why internal linking is important, visit one of our old blog posts. TL: DR; internal links help users navigate the site and search engines understand which pages are more important.

 

Using Ahrefs

Here at Mockingbird, we use a tool called Ahrefs to keep track of our and our clients’ top-performing pages and linking. One of the datasets it provides is the number of referring internal links for each page. 

 

Finding the Dataset

Image showing screenshot from ahrefs where location for the data set can be seen in the menu and the number of internal dofollow links can be seen for each page
From Ahrefs.com

 

The information you’re looking for can be found under the Pages → Best by links section, then select the Internal tab on top. 

 

When you sort by Dofollow links you’ll probably notice that the pages with the highest URL ratings tend to have the most links. This isn’t entirely coincidental, as you’ve probably guessed. 

 

Why Internal Linking Matters (to Ahrefs and beyond)

When a site has thorough internal linking the user is able to navigate the site easier and is more likely to visit the pages that are being linked to. The more unique visitors a page has, the higher it’s URL rating. This is why homepages often have high URL ratings: the homepage is usually the most visited page.

 

One of the major benefits of internal linking is that it’s a free way to improve your URL Rating. Unlike link building campaigns, you don’t need to call anyone. It’s a simple way to improve your site.

 

How to do Internal Linking

Just in case you made it to the end of this blog post without knowing how to do internal linking, this is for you. 

 

Internal linking simply refers to when one page on your site links to another page on your site. Two pages within a domain, linking to each other. The pages should be relevant, see the links above to previous blog posts on this subject. For law firms, this can be as simple as linking to your car accidents page in your blog post about a local car accident.  

 

In Conclusion

Now that you know what internal links are, how to create them, why they’re important, and where to check in on them, go out and build your internal linking networks.

Link Building: Where to Start

Starting a Link Building Project

Link building is one of the building blocks of SEO. It helps to make connections, building domain authority, and motivating you to create interesting content. We all know this, but where do you start? Well, let’s start with where not to start.

 

Avoiding Schemes and Scams

There are countless businesses around promoting opportunities to buy lots of links for cheap. Don’t utilize them. Link building schemes are great for short-term growth and long-term destruction. And the growth isn’t even real since the incoming traffic rarely converts or interacts. 

Bottom line: don’t buy links.

 

Finding (Legitimate) Opportunities

Looking for places that will provide you with links or are willing to collaborate is hard work. It helps to begin where you are more likely to get a response. This could be directories, local newspapers, even alumni newsletters. These are examples of places where you can simply add a link to your website’s homepage or your attorney profile and call it a day.

 

One technique we like using here at Mockingbird is Lookback Link Building, a termed coined in-house. It can help get high-quality links without asking publications to change recent pieces.

 

The next level of link building is guest blogging or writing content that sites want to link to. This usually takes either an extreme talent for writing alongside high subject matter expertise or a longstanding and good reputation in the field. You should always aim for creating the highest quality content as possible, but the bar is a bit lower if you’re already a well-known name.

 

Building Connections

Making connections is hard in this world, and it’s even harder when you’re asking for a favor. Prepare yourself for a lot of rejection and even more indifference. A lot of your requests will be ignored. You learn to live with it.

 

So what do you do once you make a connection? If the type of link you’re requesting is just putting a link in an article where the firm or attorney is mentioned, ask for that. Explain how it will help the readers who might want to learn more about the subject. Try not to make it sound like a business transaction. People don’t like feeling like they’re giving you something for free.

 

Beyond singular links, you need to build connections with publications and websites that might be open to collaborating with you as a subject matter expert. This means that they would be open to you writing guest pieces or linking to your content. This is a great position to be in. If you find yourself with these types of connections, don’t piss them off. They’re your ticket to a high domain authority.

 

The Benefits of Link Building

If you aren’t convinced that an improved backlink profile will help you out, we have multiple case studies to show you otherwise:

 

Impacts of Google’s January Update on the Legal Industry

Google released a new core update in mid-January, most of which has been rolled out at this point. As with all updates, Google reassured webmasters that no specific sites or industries were targeted. That being said, some industries saw greater impacts than others. And since we’re a legal marketing agency, we like to focus on the impacts on the legal industry. 

 

Based on research from SEMrush.com, the legal and government industries have seen a fair amount of volatility over the past week. The peak days of change were January 14-16, and things appear to be back to normal now.

 

But just because things are no longer changing doesn’t mean there wasn’t an impact. SEMrush works to track SERPs (search engine results pages) in a number of categories, from featured snippets to reviews. 

 

By looking at a selection of these SERPs (not all of them are relevant to the legal industry, such as shopping results) we can get an idea of how legal websites might have been affected.

 

HTTPS Usage

From semrush.com

 

HTTPS usage saw a drop when the update was rolled out and has been steadily declining since. Fortunately, it looks like it might be bouncing back. 

 

Local Results

From semrush.com

 

Local results, or “Local pack” as it’s called on SEMrush, consists of location-based results that appear on the map and the first three results (see below).  After an initial dip, local SERPs seem to have bounced back to where they were before the update.

Reviews

From semrush.com

 

This metric refers to the number of organic results that appear with a star rating under the URL. As with the local results, there was an initial dip immediately following the update. Fortunately, this result is also creeping back up to where it was.

 

Top Ads

From semrush.com

 

Top ads refer to the ads that appear at the top of the page of search results. These have been seeing some serious fluctuations over the past 30 days, but seem to have been on a steady increase since before the update.

 

What Does This Mean

So what do these metrics really mean for you and your business? Mostly it means that there might be a bit of instability in your traffic for a little while after this update. Unless your website is seeing a long-lasting and extreme drop in traffic, it’s nothing to worry about.

Creating a Content Development Plan

A good website is like a good sandwich: it can look amazing from the outside, but if it doesn’t taste good then it’s a bad sandwich. The best way to make sure you have a good sandwich is to make sure you have the right ingredients and organize them in the right way. 

 

In case my metaphor is too wandering, content is to a website as ingredients are to a sandwich. While you can accidentally throw together an amazing sandwich, your best bet is to plan ahead.

 

Auditing The Content You Have

Every law practice has a set of required pages for its site to be an adequate resource for potential clients. These include:

 

  • A homepage
  • A contact page
  • An about page
  • Individual practice area pages
  • A resource page, whether it’s FAQ or a blog

 

Before you even consider adding extra content you need to audit your current pages. Are they optimized and well written? Do you have the basics? If you don’t, fill out your pages with the barebones.

 

On the other side of things, some websites have way too much content. You might need to prune some of it back. If there’s duplicate content or orphan pages your site could suffer. You don’t want a sandwich full of iceberg lettuce. No one likes that.

 

Adding The Content You Need

Once you have figured out what your site is missing, you can get to work adding it. This is a great opportunity to optimize your site! If your existing pages haven’t been updated since 2009, update them now! You’ll be amazed at all the plug-ins available (also, no one uses Flash anymore; get rid of any plug-ins that require Flash ASAP).  You need to make sure you have the fillings of your sandwich before you even think about condiments. 

 

Adding Extra Content

Extras normally include pages like regular blog postings, successful case results, and in-depth resources. To make sure your pages are getting you the traffic and clients you want, you need to ask yourself a few questions before beginning work:

 

  1. What types of cases do I want? You can control what type of audience visits your website through the content you produce. If you have resources in greater depth on a specific issue than any other website, people looking into that issue will find their way to your page. It might not get high traffic, but it will get the right traffic.
  2. What type of expertise are my clients looking for? You’re a lawyer, so you’re in competition with every lawyer in your practice in your area. You need to show that you can not only stand toe-to-toe with any of them, but you are also more knowledgeable than them. Write about the specifics of your practice areas, things that might not show up on the practice area page. Prove you’re an expert.
  3. What is my voice? Your voice is a vital part of your brand. Some firms put more personality in their blogs, some keep it strictly academic. You need to decide what voice you’re putting into the world and keep it consistent.

 

Once you have answered these questions about yourself, you’re ready to start writing. 

 

Consider SEO

SEO is often considered something that can be accounted for later but is really much easier to just account for now. There are ways to optimize a page that barely even impacts writing. Four things you can do to improve SEO without even trying are:

 

  1. Organizing H1s, H2s, and H3s. By setting up your headers that accurately summarize and organize your page you are letting search engines know the content and composition of the page. 
  2. Adding bullet-pointed or numbered lists. Just like with headers, lists help search engines know how you’re organizing your page. A header with a well-designed list can even create a nice featured snippet if you’re lucky.
  3. Internal linking. Linking to other pages on your site not only improves the user experience by helping them visit the rest of your website but it also really helps with SEO.
  4. Add relevant images. Images help to make your page look nicer, and relevant images with accurate alt-text are particularly appreciated by search engines.

 

If you’ve noticed that pretty much all of that advice has been used in this post, good job! Sandwich for you!

 

Getting Help

Not every law firm has the time or writing expertise to do in-house content audits or plan development. This is understandable since the law is a complicated subject with a lot riding on it. You can’t be expected to spend all your time brainstorming your next FAQ. 

Mockingbird is here to help. We are proud of content audits and development plans and will help with link building and PR campaigns to improve your website’s rankings and increase your organic traffic. If you feel like your website could be performing better, don’t hesitate to call us! Helping lawyers is what we do.

Why You Should Be Checking Your Bounce Rate

Relatively underrated compared to such metrics as “pageviews,” a page’s bounce rate shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to know how many of your website’s pages were the first and last of your website a consumer ever saw. Knowing this might help you to improve your pages.

 

Judging Bounce Rates

Just like limbo at a party, you want it as low as possible for everyone. That being said, different pages will inherently have different bounce rates. Informational pages are likely to have higher rates due to the audience’s ability to get the information they were looking for and leave. Contact pages are likely to have lower rates because very few people click into a contact page from a browser. 

When looking at bounce rates, it’s important to remember page content and user intent. 

 

Improving Bounce Rates

If you want to improve your bounce rate you have to focus on user experience. This means optimizing everything.

 

Page Speed

Nothing gets a user to leave like making them wait. Compress your images, check your loading speeds, and making any necessary changes.

 

Page Design

Look at your pages as if you had never seen them. Are they visually appealing? Are they thematically consistent? Do they make you trust the website? Would it be easy to find an enticing next page to visit? 

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” fix it. Your page is your front entryway. If a visitor enters and doesn’t feel comfortable they’re going to leave.

 

Optimize Content

Content should be optimized for fast reading. That means short sentences and short paragraphs. It also means that the content needs to be useful and relevant. Don’t sacrifice quality for brevity; you can write a longer piece if you really need to.

 

Internal Linking

If your page is well written, interesting, well designed, and loads quickly, one of the best ways to get people to go to a different page is with internal linking. This allows easy access to other pages on the website. We’ve all been down Wikipedia rabbit-holes and ended up learning about the history of some bridge in North Dakota.

If you think your website needs to improve the bounce rate on some (or all, we don’t judge) of its pages, contact us and we can help you figure out how to find and improve your bounce rate.

See Your Competition’s Backlinks

Whenever you set out to get more organic calls to your website, one of the first things you do is get links. As you can imagine, there are a LOT of ways to go about doing this, some tedious, some creative, some misguided, some lucrative. So before you get started training to set a world record for most knives juggled while blindfolded on a tightrope for a link from Guinness, make sure any easy, high-value opportunities have been identified.

What Easy Links Does Your Competition Have?

One of the first things to do for linkbuilding is to run a competitive audit. This is one of the best ways to make sure your bases are covered when it comes to easy backlinks, as well as a way to pinpoint creative strategies for down the road. In a nutshell, this article will help you identify which competitors to emulate, dig up their backlink profile, and recognize and acquire good opportunity links.

1. Identify Competitors.

To do this, simply run a search in Google for whatever keywords you want to show up for. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, these might be “personal injury lawyer”, “car accident lawyer”, “medical malpractice”, etc. Note the top organic search results for the range of terms you’re targeting. Skip the ads, the map, “People also ask…”, we’re looking for the first true organic landing pages. I recommend getting a list of 5 or so domains from these results (the highest in search results). What we now have is a list of competitors that are doing well at what you want to do well at. As a starting point, why reinvent the wheel when it’s possible to see what’s making their sites tick?

2. Competitor Backlink Scan

Now that you have a big list of competitors, it’s time to narrow that number down. For this part you’ll some sort of backlink analysis tool. I like to use Ahrefs.com, but Majestic and Moz Open Site Explorer do the same thing (note: only one of these, Moz, is free, and unfortunately you get what you pay for). All of these tools have some variety of a bulk domain upload. If you’re using Ahrefs, yours will look something like this:

 

From this list, depending on how involved you want to get, you can take a closer look at one or all of these domains, starting with the highest. I’ll typically take three.

3. Identify Opportunity

Once you’ve chosen your domains to zoom in on, plug that domain into the domain analysis tool you’re using (no longer on the bulk tool, but using the  individual domain tool) and navigate to the backlink list. in Ahrefs you’ll see this:

Where do we go from here? This is the more labor-intensive part. It’s now your job to comb through all the websites pointing to competitor’s sites and identify links that can be recreated. Particularly easy opportunities are directories. On the list above I see a “http://www.bdirectory.org/”. Now that we have a linking domain picked out, we have a few questions that need answering:

  • Is this a website that you want a link from? Check out the article I wrote on this here. Basically, is this a legitimate website that has users and a caring webmaster, or is it spam? If spam, opt out.
  • What’s involved in getting a link? Some of the time this can be as simple as building a profile and hitting submit. Sometimes this requires a bit more legwork. After assessing the site (by means of the article linked to above) determine how much time and energy is appropriate for what links. This takes some trial and error to get a sense of, but really boils down to reaching out to webmasters in creative and persistent ways asking them to feature content that already exists on your site.

Remember, linkbuilding is only limited by your creativity and persistence. Competitive auditing is one way among many of finding links and finding inspiration. As you go through competitor link lists approach each of them from a creative standpoint on how you might be able find an in and get a link, this can vary wildly from site to site. Remember that you will get frustrated. Of the webmasters that you reach out to, less than 10% will respond. That’s just part of the game.

Chrome is Updating and Leaving Mixed Pages Behind

In an announcement on October 3rd, it was revealed that Google Chrome will be phasing out access to pages with mixed content, citing user security. 

 

What Does This Mean?

If your website has secure https:// connections, but includes media without secure linking, Chrome will flag the page as insecure. Beginning in December 2019, Chrome 79 will allow users to toggle their security settings. They will be able to allow the browser to access insecure scripts and otherwise blocked content. Google will release Chromes 80 and 81 in early 2020 and promise to upgrade media with http:// security to https:// automatically. The update will allow mixed images to load, but with a “Not Secure” warning appearing in the Omnibox. 

 

How Does Mixed Content Affect User Security?

Mixed content provides malicious website builders an opportunity to tamper with content to influence visitors to the page. They can do this by adding cookie trackers to hidden scripts or messing with media links. Due to the prevalence of https:// security, and the relative lack of upsides to having mixed content, Chrome has decided that it’s more efficient to block all mixed content and upgrade the passive content of images, audio, and video.

 

Is My Website At Risk of Being Blocked?

Always make sure to check that your website is up and running and complying with all search engine and browser guidelines, but chances are that the largest risks to your site will get upgraded by Chrome with Chrome 80 and 81. If you would like some easy and/or free ways to quickly check your website for potentially blocked pages, check out Search Engine Journal’s article on the update. A number of good resources appear at the bottom of the page.

If you would like help building or maintaining your law firm’s website, contact us here at Mockingbird Marketing. The services we offer include web design and SEO for your business, as well as web-traffic monitoring and PPC.