Another cross language session so I could only cover the talk from Dixon Jones at Majestic SEO – a fast past paced insight into the world of link analysis after Yahoo Site Explorer.
Life After Yahoo Site Explorer
There are a huge number of tools out there but very few actual data sources. When it comes to trying to get link information it becomes tricky, because in order to do so, you have to trawl the whole of the internet. As such, it is difficult to come up with a pure data source.
Who better to talk to us about main data sources after Yahoo Site Explorer than Dixon Jones from Majestic SEO – the largest link map on the planet (with an astonishing 3.7 TRILLION URLS crawled!). The session covered different types of tools and what to think about when choosing a platform for link analysis.
There are different types of link analysis tools:
- Search Engine Tools – these are FREE
- Platforms – such as Sistrix, SearchMetrics
- Guys who just do link analysis – Open site explorer, Majestic SEO
Search Engine Tools
Search engines are mostly good for sites you control but search engines have switched off any ‘decent’ backlink information for competitive websites.
Google is particularly good at giving you good data from within webmaster tools (and it is FREE), however, one of the limitations with the link data is that it will give you all of the referring domains, but it won’t give you the individual deep links.
Also you can find out how many links from a particular domain but you can’t get the anchor text or you have to do a lot of work if you have thousands and thousands of links to really visualise all of those links.
Bing is stepping up to take on Google for webmaster tools, so have recently been pushing their offer (see my round up post tools of the trade for SEO from SES New York )
Blekko, a more recent contender on the other hand is quite happy to give you competitive data so if you haven’t tried out Blekko and you are looking for a free link analysis tool then Blekko is the way to go – you do have to register but the data is free – the limitation with Blekko is the size of the database but nevertheless it gives you the information for free and for your competitors
Keeping up with Webmaster Alerts
If you haven’t been in to Google Webmaster Tools recently and looked at your link data – WMT now has proactive email alerts. Given that Google has already sent 700k email alerts to people in the USA with unusual link profile, this may be something of a priority to set up if you haven’t already.
If you ‘re about to get dropped it is nice to know why, so in a move towards ‘Google transparency’, WMT now proactively tells you when it thinks you have problems (but you have to log in to WMT to get the information).
The platform tools
This was SMX Munich, and it just so happens that some of the biggest link analysis platforms are of German descent.
- Sistrix– heavily German centric but is working hard to develop other languages – they went into the system and they are working on Italian translations, Spanish English – at the moment you can only buy in German
- Search Metrics – their core data is part of a much larger suite but they have their own technology but right now they are possibly smaller in link terms
The Guys who just do Link Analysis
- SEO/Open site explorer – They are a global player out of Seattle – largest market share
- Majestic SEO – the largest link map on the planet
There are two different types of data source – Historic and fresh. Majestic SEO have data going back for 5 years which gives a slightly different and slightly misleading view of the number of links in the database – the fresh index is all the links seen in the last 30 days but it could still be a 5 year old link, but if the crawlers see it in the 30 day cycle it will be in the fresh index.
So which tools should you choose?
If you are looking at link information on the data sources it’s really up to you as to what you are going to use – there are pros and cons with all of them so there are a few metrics you might want to look at:
How big is that data source?
Many Tools have a claimed index size – you can’t prove this. The majestic SEO historic data is huge – majestic fresh 102 billion 65 billion in open site explorer, however this can be misleading as Majestic don’t take any data out, so that includes deleted links. One of the complications of working with large amounts of data is that it is not always possible to apply the exclusion of something such as deleted links on such a scale.
One of the things Dixon stresses is that you can’t judge by the size of the data.
Counting Links is not always easy
A little bit of audience participation here, where we were asked to establish how many inbound links there might be on the following diagram – for the full article on SEOMoz see what defines a link – http://www.seomoz.org/blog/why-counting-links-is-not-so-easy
Freshness of crawl
Outbound links to inbound links. Looking at site pages to see how fresh the data is on any site. The trick is to choose a page that is reasonably well known that contains in its title the time and date stamp – if you try to look at that info you get an independent assessment of what is happening.
- Google fares better than anyone else for freshness. Pages get crawled and put in the database often on the same day.
- Bing is one day behind, but are not feeding that into the ‘algo’ until some weeks afterwards
- Majestic SEO fresh data gets the info quickly but takes many days to get that info into the system
Other ways to track links
URL shorteners such as Bitly – go to any url and put a + on the url to see who has clicked and where the links have come form
Don’t ignore social links
? Social Oomph
? Radian 6
? Hoot suite
? Social mention
Picking up new ideas and concepts around links that should not be ignored – they are also not necessarily picked up by link crawlers
Tools built on this data
? Analytics SEO – pick up what you are doing on and off page and put them into a chart of urgency/importance – how dangerous
? SEOlytics – interesting way of showing serp rankings
? One Hydra – data needs to be shown in a different way – readjust analysis so instead of talking about anchor text in terms of tag clouds or volume, they display things in terms of how important a keyword is, how badly a keywords is ranking, which ones are doing well and how important they are to you
3 tools to decide where you get your links from:
- Raven Tools
- Cognitive SEO
The fact that yahoo has died doesn’t really matter as there are lot better data sources on the market now – both free and paid. Tools that are being built are increasing in excitement and usefulness, but if they no longer continue to develop, Dixon is out of a job!