Looking at Google Analytics (GA)’s Traffic Data First Better Than Other Audit Tools

Been building links for a client for about 4 months now. Their spam score is 2%, decent Moz Domain Authority (DA)Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) but the DoFollow to NoFollow ratio is very messed up. We run monthly disavows but don't see much growth on Google Analytics. However Ahrefs shows massive traffic growth.
Also we build 100 DA 40-50 backlinks per month.
Can someone offer me possible reasons why Google Analytics (GA) is showing different results than ahrefs
16 πŸ‘πŸ½1644 πŸ’¬πŸ—¨
looking at google analytics ga s traffic data first better than other audit tools

"We run monthly disavows but don't see much growth on Google Analytics. However Ahrefs shows massive traffic growth. "
Given the choice of the 2, I'd trust Google Analytics over Ahrefs any day of the week.
But you should be looking at Google Search Console's traffic data first.
You'll probably grow your real traffic if you stop disavowing links you didn't buy or place.
Think of your site as a centipede (100 legs). You've shot off 96 out of 100 of those legs. It's limping along on 4.

Jeff ✍️
But the links we're disavowing are all links with spam scores over 30%. Why would we want those associated with our site to begin with?
Maslow Β» Jeff
Links should be individually evaluated. Spam score is a flag to look closer but doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong with the link.
Site without a social media profile can be indicative of spam but they may choose not to have social signals or contact info. Some sites like their privacy
Micha Β» Jeff
Spam scores are just 3rd-party opinions. If you didn't spam the search engine it's not your problem to worry about.

Ammon Johns πŸŽ“
Well, the first place you went wrong is evaluating links by domain, instead of by page. Facebook has massive domain strength. How much of that do you think goes to any single one of the tens of millions of individual URLs added to Facebook every single day?
Google do not have domain level metrics for link power. They have link-level metrics. Evaluate *potential* link power by looking at the actual page metrics for the page where your link appears, divided by all the links on that page (including header, navigation, footer, etc).
That potential link power is then modified by the trust factor of links (does the site generally have a low trust because it links to just about anything that asks, pays, or submits content for, a link?). If lots of pages on the site have linked to spam because spammers knew they too could get a link there, then those pages can be rated as spam themselves, and as they link to the other pages of the site for the navigation, so that spam factor spreads across the entire domain, through page by page level metrics.
The only reason that domain-level link metrics even exist is so that the SEO who runs the site has an idea of how much total 'juice' should be flowing around all of the site through the navigation, or getting focused into specific areas through link siloing.

Jeff ✍️
How can we measure page level metrics if we're doing guest posts? Wouldn't this only play a factor for established pages via link insertions?
Ammon Johns πŸŽ“ Β» Jeff
By looking at the page metrics of the previous guest post, and the page metrics of a guest post on the site made 6 months ago and probably buried so deep in the archive links now that it has no value at all. That'll give you both the maximum power possible, and the devaluation with time.
If they don't usually accept guest posts as far as you can tell, look at a recent blog post and a random sample from 6 months back instead.

Keith L Evans πŸŽ“
1. Stop Disavowing.
2. Stop worrying about ratios and focus on relevant links
3. Quality content before links. Make sure this is superb.

Jeff ✍️
We have a full content team that writes our site articles and guest posts at a high level. If we do not disavow then our spam score will quickly shoot up. Many spam sites are coming to our site. Instead we're wondering if theres a way to block that or if it just comes automatically with an authoritative website.


Before building a link, it is mandatory to check the quality of the site. If it is a guest posting site and sells hundreds of links per month, never put your link there. The higher the Outbound Link (OBL), the more spam the site will carry. DADR UR DR etc are nothing more than third party matrices. Don't trust such things. These days, guest posting sites owners increase these matrices by tricking the Ahrefs algorithm to sell links on high prices. Site quality primarily includes the links profile of the domain or page from which you are taking the link. My one simple rule of building links " One relevant quaity quality link carry more power than hundreds of irrelevant spammy links."
Second thing, Ahrefs is not something you can use for monetring website traffic. Trust the analytics.
Third thing, email back to those sites that you think are spammy or irrelevant and tell them to remove those links, I am sure the site will get back to it's position.

Jeff ✍️
Every website we work with we check for: Health traffic patterns, DR DA, Traffic, Spam score, ads in the top fold, soliciting guest posts, active social profiles, SSL certs. Is there anything else we should be looking at to determine health links vs bad ones?

Jeff ✍️
We disavow links because we receive many negative links over 3000 per week many of which have high spam scores. Should we just keep them?
100 DA40 – 50 links per month, 12k do-follow, sort my 1 link per domain and be interesting if that ratio of link building looks natural. Also not all DA40 + sites are created equal. If you are getting links from half these lorum ipsum dummy content sites with spun content like 90% of these Fiverr scammers, you probably geting into tainted networks that add very little value.

Jeff ✍️
The thing is we have extremely high link quality standards. We look at inbound to outbound link ratios, page traffic, traffic relevance, ads, soliciting guest posts, etc. All of our outreach is done manual
Ammon Johns πŸŽ“ Β» Jeff
That's *your* definition of high link quality standards. It is very, very different to Google's definition.
I have 26 years years of experience now, predating Google by a few years, I've worked with thousands of websites, interacted with the webmasters and SEO users of tens of thousands more through forums and groups over the decades, and not once, in all that time, even when they were the new little engine on the block trying to grow, did Google ever send a single one of those sites or people an outreach email to get a link.
To Google's thinking, the ONLY links they want to count, the ONLY ones they regard as 'high quality', are those that were freely given citations, without any kind of prompting, manipulation, persuasion, or bribery involved.
Google are fine with the idea of gimmicks and stunts to gain publicity (and links) provided that in the end analysis, any link given was a spontaneous reaction, as per the prior paragraph. They are fine with you hiring a celebrity to make content that you are damn certain will gain links just because of how cool it is to have that celebrity doing it, because it was still a totally spontaneous, unbiased, unpersuaded link.
The simplest way to classify it is that, to Google all active link-building, where you actually controlled the acquisition of a link is questionable. There is no such thing as 'White Hat Link-Building' is a statement that several Googler's directly agreed with. However, 'link attraction', where you do things likely, or even extremely likely to earn a link, is about as good as it gets.
I see people do absolutely crazily short-sighted, small-thinking, stupid things. There are literally thousands of companies paying thousands of dollars to build extremely low quality shit links, when for literally half the price they could have hired an A list celebrity to do an interview, or a guest appearance, and almost certainly gained a hundred times as many links all of higher value.
And that's my issue. I don't give a damn about white hat or black hat. I'm a grown up, not a child playing cowboys. What I care about is return on investment and risk management. Link outreach _tends_ to be poor on both Return of Investment (RoI) and on risk management over the longer term. Certainly much poorer than most even halfway creative alternatives.
Doug Β» Jeff
In my humblest experience building 100+ High Quality (HQ) links per month is a helluva undertaking as I'm sure you are aware content or niche edits there is massive amounts of work required. With 12k do follows I would be looking at isolating 1k best of the best and working on a HQ second tier link structures and distributing links across non money pages and being super vigilant about context. Big direct link campaigns are risky in highly competitive niches and those make or break top 10s (especially to money pages). Domain Authority (DA) metrics are very very flawed, context and site quality is far more important in my humble view.


You're focused on all the wrong things. Obviously, if the approach you're using now were the right approach, you wouldn't be disappointed in your results. Stop disavowing links, and stop paying attention to "spam scores" and all the other metrics you've mentioned. You've been given great advice repeatedly in this thread.
Traffic is not moving, but how about your current rankings? Where are you directing all these links you buy? I agree that you're focusing too much on metrics.
Maybe targeting too competitive queries for now? I would personally stop for a second and ask myself if linkbuilding is what you need right now. If yes, then maybe rethink your overall LB strategy? All that amount of money you spend in links may be spent for linkable content?
Nathan Β» Jeff
You'll have better luck looking at these metrics in Google Search Console: impressions, clicks, # keywords it ranks for when looking for changes after building a backlink.
Then drill it down – if you just built 3 backlinks to page X, check the impressions and clicks to page X specifically. Then drill down further and look at the change in ranking on that page X for each individual keyword that page X ranks for. (Rank doesn't really work well if you look at aggregates.)
As most said, Ahrefs has a lot of data but it's 3rd party data. It's not very useful if you can get 1st-party data of the same exact metrics (clicks in Google Search Console (GSC) = traffic in Ahrefs but more trustworthy). Examples of first-party data sources: Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Hotjar – this tech is literally attached to your site so the data is significantly more accurate than estimators like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Trends, etc.
Lastly, you may want to look into how Ahrefs actually assembles their traffic data (hint: it's based on average Click Through Rates (CTR)s and at times estimated search traffic for a keyword).
By the way, my team & I produce a lot of content. If you want to compare notes, feel free to DM me. It'd be interesting.
πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ Forget about spam scores. This isn't a valued metric to focus on. Instead, focus on growing your site with high value content, and continue building links, regardless of spam score. At the end of the day Google is great at ignoring spam my links. Sure, if you've got links that are p0rnographic, or similar then yes, disavow, buy don't go disavowing links with a spam score of 30%. You need individually analyse those links instead of relying on some rubbish metric.
Also, if you're receiving 3000 links a week to the site, then I'd look at why! Is it your current link building efforts? If so, stop. Focus on quality content instead. Focus on tech. Move away from link building for the mean time and see if those links drop – do a manual review of the links for quality and relevancy.
How much fresh unique content are you posting per month?

Jeff ✍️
We do about 10-15 1000-2000 word articles per week. We're very content focused

NoFollow backlinks are still backlinks. If they come from a high traffic site, then they're still worthwhile.
Disavow isn't important when we aren't punished for bad links anymore. They just aren't adding value.
Internal linking structure is important
If User Experience (UX) and good content aren't the most important thing now, they will be eventually

Jeff ✍️
The problem is we have 245k nofollow links. Out of the ones that get at least traffic there are only 106 sites. What should we do about the rest? Because obviously those sites are very bad
Rich Knight Β» Devin
Thanks. This is actually really helpful (and calming!). I noticed today in December we had a huge number of back-links appear in the Ahrefs report from all different domains. Hundreds and hundreds. Clicked some and every single one was as spammy as hell. We've never done any kind of black hat / paid for link building, so seeing all these seemingly "different" sites start to link was scary as hell. Been researching disavow tool all afternoon! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


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