At Just Search like any SEO Consultancy we get asked questions about clients link building and how many links they have etc. Unfortunately some clients have very little knowledge about SEO (initially anyway) and come up with a lot of assumptions:
Google says I only have 14 links
Yahoo Says I have 500 links
Google Webmaster tool says I have 314 links
The trouble with links is that no one tool can give you an accurate view of how many links you have, however some tools are better than others. Personally there are two tools I use when looking at “link intelligence” and they are of course:
- Majestic SEO www.majesticseo.com
- SEOMoz Linscape (Preferably Open site explorer) www.opensiteexplorer.org
Now I really like Open site explorer, they break links down into domain and page authority which has a ranking factor of 1-100 this ideal for creating link profile charts for you competitors (See Blogstorm)
But today I’m going to talk about Majestic SEO.
This is a great tool for finding out details about your own site or your competitors websites. One of the best things I like about it is the backlink history section, this give you a good visual of a site’s history of link building.
However this is where things can get a little confusing; Clients who are aware about Majestic SEO have often thrown question to me such as:
Looking a my links in majestic SEO it has shown that I have dropped links in the past two months
Majestic SEO shows I have a link spike!
I think I’ve lost links some where? Majestic SEO shows this!
So I though the best place to find the answer on information like this was by going straight to the horses Mouth – Dixon Jones
The big Question
In the historical back links section of majestic SEO it has three types of reports:
- Monthly View – default monthly view shows data points for any given month. Since our crawl rates increased considerably since 2006 it is advisable to either use normalized view and/or compare domains with each other ins order to get more comparable data.
- Cumulative View – cumulative view shows ever increasing totals, this can help see clearer in some cases whether a particular site is catching up with competitor or not.
- Normalized View – normalized view shows how frequently back links were found in every 1 million crawled pages. This allows to removes the effect of ever increasing crawl rates that may result in increased number of backlinks found every month, but actual share of those links might actually be falling indicating potential decline of interest in that domain. This data is only available for back Links based charts.
If I want to assume how many links have been built over time which view do I use?
For example www.justsearching.co.uk shows data of: 2,633,828 external back links with 2,553 unique IP’s.
The Monthly View shows:
- Is this the actual number of links the site has? (Showing a gradual decrease over the past 5 months)
The Cumulative View shows:
- Is this the actual number of links the site has? (this correlates with the 2,633,828 number)
In truth, none of the charts are perfect, because they are headline numbers based on when we found the link, but include all URLs that were deleted when we recrawled – so the numbers include links that no longer exist. However, with this proviso, I would recommend using the referring DOMAINS (rather than backlinks) in cumulative view.
Not So Good:
The top chart is an estimate of the total number of backlinks, but this can easily be misleading, because a sitewide link from one or more large sites greatly influence the numbers. If you just count each referring domain once, this tends to be a better representation… unless your objective is to JUST show as many links as possible.
To Clarify this further I asked Dixon the following further questions:
- Is the monthly view a snapshot of links (or domains) each month which the Majestic SEO spiders, where as the cumulative view includes all links (or domains) found at any point?
- I.e. what would show a drop in links (Domains)?
- Do links (domains) ever drop in cumulative view?
- In terms of new links found each month, does you system query the database so it can discount old links from the NEW links found?
The monthly view is the NEW links found each month, which is why the graph goes up and down
The cumulative graph can only go up, as we keep deleted links in the index.
When we FIRST find a link, we make a note of the date. When we re-crawl a link, it will not change either graph one jot.
So in January we find 20 NEW links… both charts show 20 for January.
In February we find 17 NEW links… the monthly chart shows 17 links in January, and the cumulative shows 37 links.
Makes sense? We don’t need to discount old links… the cumulative graph is just the monthly graph of new links discovered totaled up
- Dixon Jones
Part way Conclusion
So basically Majestic SEO spiders the web and where it finds a link to a website it notes it, the monthly graph shows you how many NEW links it has found each month, this could be a link which has pointed to your site for the past 4 year but never been spiderd and this would be a new link. The cumulative view simply adds up the new links found each month to give a running total.
Disadvantge - The main problem with this is that it can give out of date information i.e. you can think you have more links than you do. But to be fair this is still more accurate than tools such as Yahoo site explorer and with Majestic SEO you get a tonne of other tool s to help analyze links further. In my opinion if you want to look a link numbers then www.opensiteexplorer.org will give you a better idea of how many links a website has at a particular given point, however there of course advantages to recording the information of where you used to have links!
Are you missing the links?
The best part about Majestic SEO is that you can see your old links, simply gothrough the links you have and see if they still exist, if they don’t try and re-establish them.
When I originally bought the domain name www.seomad.com i drop caught it, this was because I wanted to gain a domain with some age, some previous links and I simply liked the fact it said “SEO mad” and though that described me perfectly
Going through my links on Majestic SEO I have found links on sites that have removed the old pages, I have since contacted them talked about why they shouldn’t remove old pages or at least redirect them, consequently this rekindled relationship gained me another backlink
Moral of the story
Simply no one link intelligence tool is a holy grail in SEO, they all require interpretation in order to use them in the best way, above is just one useful way of using majestic SEO’s data – Enjoy!