Link Analysis tools: SEO Spyglass (Link Assistant) – any good?
Increasingly we are seeing a burgeoning industry in SEO tools coming into the marketplace, as we see the SEO industry mature into an ever increasing part of the marketing communications mix. In particular link analysis is a fundamental part of many search engine marketing organisations armouries – and this is increasingly becoming a battleground as the likes of Majestic SEO, SEO Moz (+Open Site Explorer) and more recently other tools such as Search Metrics have become entered the market – symbolic perhaps that the industry has come along way since the days of many of us using Yahoo Site Explorer (whooooo!!!)
One of the organisations trying to make a move into this space is that of SEO SpyGlass – Link Assistant, a company who have been around since 2004 – and whose flagship product link-assistant.com was released ‘way back’ in 2005. The latest tool has come a long way since those early days , and I was given an opportunity by Bas to review the latest release of SEO Spyglass.
Unlike similar tools on the market such as SearchMetrics, Majestic and SEOmoz, the SEO Spyglass has one big difference. Its a desktop application which meant downloading the programme and installing it onto my machine. Whilst I don’t mind doing this – I have to admit this was something which may put it at a slight disadvantage to some of the other tools – in terms of sheer convenience and multi system usage. This obviously does present some subsequent issues in terms of updates which are required where data and toolset updates are required.
The SpyGlass software is a link analysis tool doesn’t necessarily offer anything significantly different from the likes of Majestic or SEOMoz however what it does provide is an easier to use interface than the two afore mentioned link analysis tools. Much of the core information on competitor link profiles is displayed providing a myriad of data including:
- Page and Domain level information
- Domain IP Location
- DMOZ/Yahoo listings
- Domain age
Unlike other tools on the market this does mean you have very quick access to the data – and to be honest this is where the desktop functionality does come a bit into its own. Data can be segmented and filtered quickly and effectively. Via the administration interface it is also possible to further data into the main interface should you require this further level of domain level coverage
Depth of data and coverage
The depth of data is fairly good. Certainly, when testing it across a number of test organisations, I was returned with a significant volume of links. Whilst this data took a while to be collated – the benefit of being able to leave this to run negated any significant issues here. However, this would appear to be heavily reliant on third party information and as such does not offer a significant USP from the likes of Majestic which obviously ‘indexes’ its own content.
However there were a number of very useful features which I did very much like. Firstly the opportunity to segment linkage by link type was particularly useful. SEO Spyglass offers the opportunity to filter results by
- Show backlinks from blogs and forums
- Show backlinks from link directories
- Show backlinks from homepages only
- Display newly acquired links only – Given this was the first time I had run this but this was still useful for potential analysis of new links to the site
Some elements of the filtering could be more obvious – however all in all this did allow you to segment, mine and analysis link profiles very quickly and effectively. It hasn’t got perhaps the bells and whistles of many of the competitor tools out there but what it does it does very well.
Value for money
There is a free version of the tool, available however one has to caveat this with the fact that free often means limitations and this is no different. Potential volume of data is an obvious compromise with the free tool – however if you are thinking of doing this it does provide a flavour of what the tool is capable of. Subsequent pricing packages are however competitively priced and do offer a cost effective solution to those that may not be able to cover the SEO Moz Pro fee – or the Majestic SEO subscriptions.
All in all – I was pleasantly surprised by the tool itself – and being a bit of a ‘cynic’ with many of these tools (cue EliteSEO etc) – I have to say it certainly has its uses in terms of quick and easy access. However where I feel it needs to improve is the depth of the data itself . However if you are looking for a cost effective link analysis tool its certainly value for money.