Do links harm the site? Checking link donors for response codes

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Do you need a link audit?

According to research, quality backlinks are still one of the main search ranking factors.

Какие ссылки влияют на продвижение сайта
However, mass verification of site donors by a large number of metrics is no longer as relevant as before. According to search engine representatives, link auditing should not be done if you do not have notifications about these problems in Google Search Console.
Стоит ли делать аудит сайта

But does that mean you shouldn’t follow links?

No. Even if you are confident in the quality of the link mass, it is worth periodically checking the response codes of your donor sites. I’ll tell you how to do it and why.

What is a response code and how is it useful when analyzing external links

The server response code is a three-digit number that the “client” receives when making a request to the server. By a client we mean a system that makes a request to a page – a search engine, browser, other bots that collect information from the site. That is, these numbers make it clear what exactly is happening with the requested page (deleted, moved or unavailable).

There are various server response codes. When analyzing pages, we can conditionally divide them into suitable and not very suitable. These numbers tell us “what’s going on with external links to our site”.

The ideal option is 200 response code, says that everything is in order with the link.

Response codeFunction (what it says)Suitable/Not suitable
200 OKPage is workingFits
3XXPage redirectedDoesn’t fit
4XXPage removedDoesn’t fit
5XXPage is not availableDoesn’t fit

Why is it important?

Are you a site owner and hired contractors to build a link profile? By checking the links, you will be able to determine whether the allocated budget is being wasted on broken links and whether your contractors are conscientious.

Suppose we plan to acquire 100 links per month and receive a report about it. If 10, 20 or other number of links do not answer “200 OK”, then the money is wasted.

Analysis of the response code helps prevent the negative impact of links on the site.

If your link is worth $100 or more, it’s in your best interest to make it work =)

Let’s imagine that we build links only on five selected sites, but in large numbers. Each of them generates 10 articles per month for us. If one platform stops working (response code 404), we lose a large share of the entire link mass. Such a recession may be perceived negatively by the search engine. A sharp fluctuation in the link mass will become a signal to the search engine about the fall in the authority of the pages and those characteristics that the links transmitted will no longer have an impact on the site, which will affect the positions.

How to determine the server response code for donors

If there is a list of donors, reporting files or downloads, verification can be carried out either manually by clicking on each link, or using batch verification tools.

In the case when you have a list of donors, the check comes down only to a request to the search engine “mass check of server response codes” and the actual check in any service convenient for you. For example, Converseo,, Seolium.

An example of the work of “Converseo”:

Пример работы сервиса Конверсео

You can also check a separate page in the official Yandex tool — Yandex.Webmaster
To do this, select the tool called Server Response Checker and add the URL to check:
Проверка доноров в Яндекс.Вебмастер

How to get a list of donors if there is none

Collecting a list of donors is the main problem in conducting such an audit. Most often, difficulties arise because links grow randomly, without control. Many people think about it when a project loses positions or receives sanctions from a search engine.
Let’s see how you can get a list of backlinks

First of all, we turn to the official tools of search engines:
1. Google Search Console provides this information in the links section:

Как посмотреть доноров в Google Search Console

Here we analyze the internal and external links of the site, as well as export all links for further analysis.

2. Yandex.Webmaster, “Links” section, “External links” subsection:

Внешние ссылки в Яндекс.Вордстат

Yandex provides similar information, but for convenience it divides it into two separate categories. The tool also has the ability to upload links.

Please note that these tools provide information from the search engine index. Therefore, if the link is not indexed, you will not see it in these reports and the selection will be incomplete.

Thus, the task of analyzing the donor response code always consists of two stages:

  1. Get a list of donors.
  2. analysis of this list.

Even if the official tools provide incomplete information, how do you get a complete list of external links?

Serpstat helps in obtaining a complete list of backlinks:

1. Go to the “Backlink Analysis” section in the service and select “Referring Pages” + historical index.

For example, if the purpose of the analysis is to check the work of a contractor, select the period of cooperation with him and check the links.

Анализ обратных ссылок в Serpstat

2. Export links to a table. Please note that the number of lines in the report (links to the project) may be limited by the tariff plan.
Ссылающиеся страницы в Serpstat

For convenience, the service separates reports on new and lost links. The lost links report will most likely contain links with a 404 response code, i.e. deleted.

Do you check link donors? Share your ways in the comments! =)

Author: Orel Ivan — Content Marketer at Serpstat