Creating a Link Building Dashboard

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If you are actively building links as part of your SEO efforts, you are probably tracking your metrics, but are your metrics helping you? You should be actively watching KPI’s to ensure your link building is heading in the right direction. This begs two questions two questions: What KPI’s do I track and how do you record these metrics so that they are actionable?

The second question is pretty easy – you should be tracking your KPI’s in a dashboard. This is great because it allows you to see trending data for your important metrics that should be shaping your link building efforts. I have made a link building dashboard template that you can download here.

So what metrics should you be tracking? You should be watching KPI’s that indicate the results of your efforts so that you can reshape your link building efforts as needed. The following are the metrics that I track, as they impact how I focus my time:

Total Links

This is pretty straightforward – How many external links are pointing to your entire domain. If you want to create a competitive intelligence dashboard, you can also include your competitor’s links. I recommend using Google Webmaster tools data for this KPI – Don’t forget to subtract internal links as Google includes this number in WMT.

Number of Linking Domains

While it is good to know the number of links pointing to your site, the number of linking domains has a higher correlation with good rankings and is vital to track. This is really good to watch alongside your total links graph as it will help you understand if you are getting a lot of contextual links or if you are getting less valuable links, like sidebar links.

Number of Linking Domains Gained

How successful are your efforts? How many linking domains are you gaining each week? This is a good number to look at to judge the scalability of your efforts in order to help evaluate your effectiveness. If you are putting a lot of effort in but are only getting a few mediocre links, then you should probably look into a different tactic.

Number of Phrase Match Anchors

I like to know the number of links I am building with targeted anchors. I track how many links use phrases containing the anchors that I am targeting. While the raw number is helpful for seeing the effectiveness of your efforts, it is really important to look at this as a proportion of your links. You want to make sure you don’t have 50% of your links being targeted anchors as this is indicative of targeted link building efforts that could easily be detected by search engines.

Number of Branded Links

How many links contain your brand name? Create a percentage of the number of branded links compared to your entire backlink profile. You should know your competitive landscape and what the branded backlink portfolio of your competitors looks like.

Links to the Homepage

How many of your links are pointing to your homepage? You want to create a dashboard that will show you the ratio of links going to your homepage. Compare this ratio against that of your competitors and the top ranking sites. The purpose of this is to make sure that you are still building links in the appropriate ratio to corresponding pages so that your backlink profile doesn’t appear unnatural.

I created a template that you can download and put your own data in that you can download here.

While there are a huge number of other metrics you can track, and that you should probably look at, these are the KPIs I track consistently. As this is for a dashboard, you want to only include the vital metrics that give you a quick overview of the performance of your link building; you should be able to tell if something looks off and needs further investigation.

Geoff Kenyon
Geoff Kenyon is a veteran online marketer and focuses on driving traffic to increase revenue and grow businesses. With experience in-house and agency side, he has founded his own consultancy,
Geoff Kenyon
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  • Anonymous

    link is broken, Geoff?



  • Geoff

    Sorry about that Jim. Don’t know what happened, the post was scheduled to go live last night. Fixed now.

  • I guess Number of Branded Links are more important in the world of today.

  • Where’s the link to the template?

  • Jason Skelton

    The link for the template is not correct…

  • Geoff

    The link here should take you to another page where you click a link “Download the spreadsheet here” that will download the template. I’ve tested it and had a couple friends test it and it worked, so I’m not sure what’s going on for you guys. If you can be a bit more descriptive, I can try and help you out.

    • Annie Cushing

      There is no link.

      • Geoff

        I apologize for the confusion. I forgot to link to the template up at the top, but there is a link right above the last paragraph that will work. I sent an email off to Ann so hopefully the top link will get fixed soon.

  • Geoff, this is really adding value to my toolkit!

  • Thanks for the good post!

  • Sammy

    I downloaded the sheet earlier today. Awesome job! This will be very useful in the future after I graduate college and hope to work in online marketing. Maybe I can use this spreadsheet for other uses, like my current job as a sales rep.

  • Nice Post! Really important for new SEOs to be able to identify important metrics so nice work.

  • Thanks for this Geoff. In addition to maintaining a varied
    link profile, I think it’s important to look at the source of your links ie. are the sites that link to you relevant to
    your niche? Etc…


    Another useful exercise is to check the bounce rate for each
    of your traffic sources, in other words, are your readers who search for “Jude Harrison
    SEO” instantly clicking away after looking at your site? If so, you need to
    improve the way you are link building for this term, either altering the landing
    page to make it more relevant or abandoning the term as a target altogether.

  • Very nice article and helpful too. It is really helpful in different ways such as how to point the home page, how to increase the branded links. Thanks.

  • Hi Geoff

    Thanks for the post! I”ve a question: Wich program do u use to take the data? Majestic SEO, Ontolo or another?

    Tks! 🙂

    • Geoff

      Hey Paulo, I ususally use open site explorer/ Google Webmaster Tools but you can use Majestic or any service that will provide the data. No service is prefect and there will be variance between OSE/Majestic, which is alright as long as you consistently pull data from the same place.

      • Kardankal

        I don’t see the various KPIs you have in the template in Google Webmaster tool. Could you list the source for each of the KPI:
        Total Links >>> This is in Google WebmastersNumber of Linking Domains >>> Where do you get this data?Number of Linking Domains Gained >>> This is calculated dataNumber of Phrase Match Anchors >>> Where do you get this data?Number of Branded Links >>> Where do you get this data?Links to the Homepage >>> Where do you get this data?

  • Hi,
    Excellent guidance to follow.  Will do so.

  • Juliec

    Do you have to insert a new row below row 4 each time you update? Thanks in advance.

  • jemes mccarth

    Well I am really so glad to know all about link building infact I want to see my site at top and so I was looking for some important kind of stuff like this. I shall thankful of you all for nice sharing and reviews here.

  • My backlinking is helter skelter at times so perhaps this will help. Thanks.