Tracking Results and Measuring Success : Competitive and Diagnostic Search Metrics (part 2) - Search-engine-supplied tools, Third-party link-measuring tools

11/8/2012 2:52:03 AM

3. Link Building, Link Tracking, and Link-Based Metrics (Including Anchor Text Analysis)

Measurement of link-building campaigns is another must for the expert SEO practitioner. This can help you refine your campaigns to bring better results, compare link growth to your search rankings, and perform analysis to see how your campaigns are faring compared to the efforts of your competitors.

3.1. Search-engine-supplied tools

There are three basic tools for checking backlinks:

  • Google Webmaster Tools is a powerful start. With Google Webmaster Tools, publishers can easily download a spreadsheet of all the links Google has in its database (note that Google might not include some links that it does not consider significant). With this tool publishers can see only the links to their own site. Figure 6 shows what the spreadsheet looks like.

  • Bing Webmaster Tools is also a great asset. It offers a similar capability for downloading a spreadsheet of the links that Bing has in its database for a site. Once again, publishers can use this tool only to see the links to their own site. Figure 7 shows what the report looks like.

    Bing Webmaster Tools is limited in its export, however. Publishers can extract only up to 1,000 of their backlinks due to a limitation in the Bing API (as of July 2009). Bing does provide some cool filtering capabilities to help publishers work around that limitation, however.

  • Yahoo! Site Explorer allows publishers to see all of their backlinks. However, only 1,000 of these can be exported into a spreadsheet. Seeing more than 1,000 requires you to step through the web results pages showing 100 linking pages at a time. Site Explorer will also allow publishers to see the backlinks for any website, not just their own. This is particularly interesting in evaluating the competition. Figure 8 shows what the backlinks report looks like.

Figure 6. Google report on external links

Figure 7. Bing report on external links

Figure 8. Site Explorer report on backlinks

For quick and dirty link totals, it is handy to use a Firefox plug-in known as SearchStatus. This provides basic link data on the fly with just a couple of mouse clicks. Figure 9 shows the menu you’ll see with regard to backlinks.

Figure 9. SearchStatus plug-in

Notice also in Figure 9 that the SearchStatus plug-in offers an option for highlighting NoFollow links, as well as many other capabilities. It is a great tool to help pull numbers such as these much more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

3.2. Third-party link-measuring tools

Advanced third-party tools exist for gathering link data. Here is a look at some of the most well-known ones.

3.2.1. Linkscape

Linkscape was developed based on crawl data obtained by SEOmoz, plus a variety of parties engaged by SEOmoz. You can see a complete list of Linkscape’s sources at

Linkscape is designed to be the tool for SEO practitioners to use when mapping links across the Web. It gets around the 1,000-URL limit imposed by Yahoo! and lets you get as many links as it can find and then extract them all into a spreadsheet.

Figure 10 shows a sample report.

Figure 10. Linkscape report

Included with this report are mozRank and mozTrust scores for each URL listed, and each domain. The tool also flags redirects so that you can see them. In addition, you can easily obtain additional data, such as the Google PageRank scores for the linking page and its domain.

The beauty of this tool is that it allows SEO practitioners and publishers to collect competitive intelligence on other people’s domains, much like they do with Yahoo! Site Explorer today, but escape the 1,000-result limit and automatically get Google PageRank values as well as SEOmoz’s proprietary mozRank and mozTrust scores.

We cannot underestimate the importance of mozRank and mozTrust. The PageRank score Google publishes through its toolbar is known not to be a reasonable approximation of the value of a given page, and is not the same as the actual PageRank Google uses in its ranking algorithms. The Google algorithm has simply evolved far beyond the original simplistic concept of PageRank that Google used in its early days.

Also of great value is Domain mozRank (DmR). This is the concept of assessing the overall trust level of a domain instead of a specific page. PageRank values published on the Google Toolbar are a measure for a particular page, not the domain, and there is no way to get that data from Google.

DmR uses the same mozRank algorithm but applies it to the “domain-level link graph.” Doing so offers additional insight about the general authority of the domain. Just as pages can endorse other pages, a link that crosses domain boundaries (e.g., from some page on to a page on can be seen as an endorsement by one domain for another.

Many other factors are taken into account, such as trust level, relevance, and other types of references across the Web. MozRank and mozTrust attempt to incorporate these parameters and provide SEOs and publishers with a truly relevant measure of the importance of a page. In addition, all the data is extractable in a spreadsheet to allow for easy offline processing.

3.2.2. Link Diagnosis

Link Diagnosis can show you important information about your competitors’ links, including page rank, anchor text, NoFollow links, and more. Figure 11 shows an example of the basic Link Diagnosis output for one site.

Figure 11. Link Diagnosis report

You can download each subsection of this report into a CSV file, for later examination in Excel. Pulling the basic backlinks report (shown at the top left of Figure 9-24) into a spreadsheet provides data that looks like Table 1.

Table 1. Link Diagnosis link report export
http://blog.se6Google’s S1906
http://www.c6How do I131
http://www.s6Eric Enge1171
http://blog.se6spoken w11060
http://en.wik6Eric Enge2265
http://stonete6web mark1176
http://blog.se5Andrew T199
http://www.n5Stone Tem1181

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