Google: Value (or Not) of Doing Link Audits

At Brighton SEO last week, I asked Gary Illyes from Google about the value of doing link audits.  Ever since Google Penguin switched to the real time version which would discount bad links instead of penalizing a website for having them, the value of link audits has definitely diminished.

But does Google still see the value in link audits so that all site owners should spend the time to do them regularly or pay for a tool that will do it for them?  Or should sites that have had a nefarious past with links be the only ones who regularly do it?

According to Illyes, it doesn’t make sense for some site owners to be doing audits.

I was chatting a lot with some SEOs from big companies – in house SEOs – about what they are doing and it varies by company. These companies have different fields of views about why they are disavowing things.

Personally, I don’t think that doing audits very often makes sense, because as you said we are pretty good at ignoring links and if we see that the links are coming in organically or that, we are, it’s extremely unlikely that we would hit a site with a manual action for that.

And if your links are ignored by Penguin, then again you don’t need to care about that.

I run my own site which gets about, perhaps 100,000 visits per week. It’s been up for four years maybe and I don’t have a disavow file. I don’t even know who links to me.

That said, if your site has a history of buying links or other nefarious link building tactics in its past, then it does make sense to do audits and disavow the bad ones to protect against a future linking manual action.  That said, it is also important to remember that disavowing links found in a link audit can also result in losing rankings because site owners have a tendency to disavow links that are actually helping instead of potentially hurting a site.

So do link audits if something in the site’s history warrants it.  But for many site owners, the time is likely better spent improving the site itself, or just do a link report for those curious about who is linking.

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