Top 5 Tools for Analyzing Your Backlink Profile — A SPN Exclusive
Link-Building is difficult at the best of times, but Google has made it even harder for us as SEO’ers to build quality, high authority links after the infamous Penguin and Panda updates (I call this Penganda!). Many low quality link sources were completely obliterated by Google during Penguin resulting in lost link value for a lot of sites engaging in low quality directory submissions and blog network linking.
I have seen a lot of comments recently of people complaining that their sites have suddenly dropped and competitors starting to outrank them on their main terms. Panic seems to have set in a lot of people when they see these shifts after a notorious Google algorithm update. My advice would be to not panic, but delve into the data and discover exactly why these changes have occurred and develop a strategy to remedy the solution based on hard data. The first place to start looking is your overall link profile, and that’s what I’m here to discuss.
For seasoned SEO’ers analyzing link profiles comes naturally, although for the less experienced or those not in the know it can be a daunting to determine where to start and how to go about it. There are some great tools out there, some free, some not, but nonetheless all specifically designed to give you insightful data about your website’s backlink data.
In order of preference, my personal top five tools for analyzing backlink profiles are:
Google?! I hear you say? Yes Google! Google should be the first place you start to analyze your link profile. Why? Well first it’s free, and secondly it’s Google that takes notice of your link profile and ranks you so the data they give you probably has some significance!
Google doesn’t offer some fancy dashboard or enable you to download massive excel sheets, but it does give you a quick and dirty picture of what sites are linking to your site. Simply go to Google and type link:”www.mydomain.com” -site:www.mydomain.com into the search box. This will give a quick set of results of sites linking to your site. This data is not infallible. I rarely find it showing every link – but I do find some of the results interesting that other tools don’t pick up. It’s a good start, it’s free and it’s easy. What more do you want?
Google also gives us numerous other free tools to help us analyze our link profiles. Google Webmaster Tools is one of them. Again, not always 100% accurate in it’s data, but it is a good indication of the links that Google can “see” and values. You need to have your website set up in Google Webmaster Tools first before you can start seeing link data.
MajesticSEO is by far my favorite go-to tool for link building data. The data it provides is by far – in my opinion – the most advanced from any tool currently on the market. Majestic offers both free and paid versions of the tool. If you are simply trying to analyze your own website’s link data, then a free account will suffice, otherwise, if you’re an agency or deal with multiple clients, you will probably require a paid subscription, although I guarantee it is completely worth the minimal monthly fee for the data it provides!
So what is so good about Majestic? Well simply enter your domain into Majestic and out comes a wealth of data regarding links pointing at your site. They have also implemented a trust/citation flow metric which in layman’s terms simply tells you how well that link coming to your website is trusted and whether it is passing useful keyword anchor text relevance back to your site.
The vast amount of reports and data you can retrieve from Majestic can seem overwhelming, although there are ways to quickly visualize this data for maximum impact which I am going to soon discuss in another article on my blog.
3. Open Site Explorer
It was hard to choose between Majestic and Open Site Explorer and I would have probably listed OSE as number two if it provided cool trust/citation flow graphs. However OSE is an industry standard link explorer tool from the awesome guys at SEOMoz. The tool offers a free limited account, although this only lets you see the first five results. I would highly recommend getting a paid account at SEOMoz. The data that OSE provides can be invaluable not only at finding links pointing at your site, but also links pointing at your competitors, allowing you to compare your own site against theirs.
I also believe that OSE has the best metric system – mozRank and mozTrust are two widely accepted industry measurements that can quickly show how you compare to other sites.
Ahrefs is another tool similar to Majestic. It has some features that are pretty cool and which the other tools do not. One of the best and most notable features of this tool is it’s “lost link” feature. This data allows you to view what links have been recently lost to your site and also new links. Ahrefs is probably the best tool for finding problems in your link profile, especially if you have suddenly lost a large number of links, although it is again a paid tool.
Relatively unknown, Blekko is a brilliant little free search engine with multiple uses. A simple search engine that allows you to use paramaters at the end of searches. Go to Blekko.com and try searching for www.mydomain.com/seo. This handy little tool gives you a nice, quick visualization of your inbound links as well as some other useful statistics such as the neighborhood on shared hosts or the latency of your site.
Well these are the tools I generally use on a day-to-day basis for analyzing link profiles of sites. Anyone with a bit of time and a little knowledge of how links work can have a shot at these tools and find some insightful information about the kind of sites linking to them and the quality of those sites. What you can do with all this information is a topic for another day!