I have known about Google releasing its new link report for about 3 months but I was reluctant to say anything until I knew what the wider SEO community was saying about it. Unfortunately, they are not saying much, but as the old adage goes “no news is good news”.
So in that vein I would like to put together my reasoning for and against throwing aside your labour intensive and often costly link report from your SEO agency and opting instead to use the free Google Link Report.
What is a link report?
For those that may not be using an SEO agency yet a link report is, well, a report of all the links your agency has managed to actively add to your website. A score sheet if you will that tells you how much work has been completed that month on your campaign.
It normally has the URL your link appears on, the domain authority (strength of the website) score and other information like the anchor text and even the type of domain it is (directory, articles website, blog post etc).
In some cases a link report and general monthly review can take upwards of 25% of total SEO budget so doing away with part of that by using a free link report must be a good thing, right? Well, we’ll get into that later.
Where is the link report?
You can find it in your Google Webmaster tools which is an extension of your Google Analytics, however you will have to login via https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools.
Once you are logged in then go to > link to your site and all your links will be there with a monthly filter.
Previously using Googles link report was a completely wasted exercise for business owners as although the great and powerful Google could have tried to show all the links to your website, they really didn’t.
In fact, Search Engine Land (well know SEO publication) tested this theory out and found that previously they had 3,000 links (domains) point to their website prior to the new link report update and since, they now have 57,000 links (domains).
A noticeable improvement, I think you will agree.
So on that basis, you the business owner, should feel confident, happy and self-assured that all the problems have been fixed. Well, not so fast.
If you go to ahrefs.com and add Search Engine Lands URL, you will find the following statistics.
So using another piece of software, it shows that Google has still missed out a whopping 16,000 links.
By why is that, does Google simply not care about showing accurate data, seems unlikely.
The reason they have given is that they do not add links to their report that are on pages that they have placed in the supplemental index (effectively the naughty list of websites that Google no longer crawls or use in their rankings).
So maybe just using the Google link report might be okay, after all, it can also be used as a guide to know whether your links are being placed on websites that Google are actually interested and will reward you properly with a better ranking.
So in Summary
Google has made some wonderful improvements but it might very well be the case for you to trial the link report for a couple of months and match the figures up with the SEO campaign report. You might be surprised by your findings and who knows, it could help save you money and give your current SEO agency something to think about.