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L6: Advanced Link Analysis

An opening word from Rand Fishkin about Link Analysis.
Check out Rand Fishkin on Twitter.

Being able to break down what makes a link valuable is essential to creating an effective link building plan.

A Link’s Value Can Be Analysed By:

  • The authority and trust of the linking domain and page Where the link is and if the link Is within the content of the page
  • The anchor text of the link
  • The type of link, for example, is the link featured within an article or a comment?

Two practical ways to gauge a link’s value are:

  1. If the link is easy to get, it probably won’t be very valuable, or its value will be short lived
  2. If a link provides a lot of referral traffic, then it probably passes significant value.

Why Link Analysis Is So Important

Determining the value of links is going to provide you with the ability to prioritise your link building efforts. It will provide depth to your research and help you understand the tactics being used by top ranking sites, innovative marketers, competitors and spammers.

So What Really Matters?

In the end, Google is trying to accomplish one goal – relevance. For a link to add relevance, it should be of value to a website’s users. Google considered this a vote of confidence. For example, when a well respected organisation, like The BBC, links to a web page, you know it’s been written by a journalist, approved by an editor and likely seen by thousands of people.

That’s a lot of credibility. That link, is now a signal to Google, showing that they can trust the linked to content.

What Factors are Considered?

There are several key components, Google is looking at to determine the value of a link:

  • The domain the link comes from
  • The specific page, on that domain the link comes from
  • How the link is feature within the page

Tools to see these metrics:

These metrics can be manipulated, so it’s important to double check them with some common sense, ask yourself:

  • Is this website a trusted brand? Is it nationally recognised? Internationally?
  • Are there searches for the brand name?
  • Is the content valuable and well written?
  • Is there an active social conversation around the website?
  • Does the site rank, for its branded terms?
  • Just because a link is coming from an authoritative source, doesn’t mean it will pass lots of equity.

High authority pages pass more value than other pages on the same domain.
Links can be flagged with no-follow code, in which case the link passes no value. This is frequently seen on comment boards.

Links coming from navigational elements, like footers and sidebars, repeated over many pages are worth significantly less. These can also be classed or seen as light spam with recent updates from Google.

The number of links on the page affects each individual link’s value. Fewer links on a page mean more authority is passed per link. A good guideline is less than 100 links per page.

Multiple links, from the same domain, decrease sharply in value after the first.
The same happens with links from the same page. Multiple links from one page only get counted once.

Link Diversity

Authority websites end up with a diverse profile of links, this is because, sites link to them based on their brand value rather than any kind of manual link building efforts. This means diversity is important and lots of links, of the same type, could signal manipulation.

Link Detective is a great tool for spotting potential imbalances in your link building strategy

A lot of directory links, does not make a strong link profile!

How Do You Define a Topical Link?

When looking for topical link sources, there is a fair amount of margin in defining what is topical. Topical relevance, can be defined at many different levels, much like animal classifications.

People are a good example of this, they can be classified as Primates, Humans, People, Man, Woman, Child, Adult and so on. Likewise, a website can be looked at topically, from several different levels.

A good way to think about this, is to view these related clusters is as “topical spheres” or “neighbourhoods.” For example, if we have a website about dogs, websites about the following topics are related:

Dogs, Veterinarians, Cats, Labrador Retrievers, Monkeys, Animal Rights websites etc. All of the above topics, could be considered to be part of the animal topical sphere.

If you are analysing a competitor’s back-link profile, you should identify what proportion of their back-link profile, is topically relevant to their site, to better understand the market you are in.

Topical links carry more weight, links from topic and with a high DA or PA related to the subject, are about as good as you can get!

It’s our feeling, these links are going to be the future of SEO. I think for the moment, while a more learning algorithm is developed, topic links carry the most weight. We can see that Google has made a move towards these links, especially after panda and penguin.

The driving force behind building topical links is to create something that adds value to your industry or market. Keep in mind that you want to build value, not just links!

This will help you create assets that will continue to bring in links, long past the initial creation and outreach. Below are some tactics that you can use to build links from topically related sites:

  • Guest Posts
  • Creating Industry Awards
  • Creating Linkable Content (Blog, Resources, etc)
  • Infographics
  • Badges and Widgets
  • Product Reviews
  • Links From Suppliers and Partners

Anchor Text

In the previous section, we discussed how pages and domains can be topically categorised to improve relevance. Another way to do this, is to build links with relevant anchor text. This is the visible text within a link.

Consider the following HTML code for a link:
<a href=“”>Search Engine Marketing Company</a>

The link above would render as: Search Engine Marketing Company where, the “anchor text” for this link is Search Engine Marketing Company. A good way of thinking about this is, that anchor text is what other people have to say about you or your page.

While, you tell search engines what your content is about, by describing your content in the page title, page text, URL, alt text, internal links, etc., search engines really want to know what other people have to say about your content. Anchor text is the best way to do this.

In general, you want to get keywords in your anchor text, so that you rank higher for these terms. There are several different ways that keywords can be placed within an anchor text;

Exact Match Anchor Text

Example: “mountain bikes”
Exact match anchor text is exactly what it sounds like, the anchor text, in the link is your exact keyword phrase. Up until recently, exact match anchor text used to be exceptionally powerful.

Phrase Match Anchor Text

Example: “black mountain bikes” or “company that makes mountain bikes”
Phrase match, anchor text, simply contains your primary keyword phrase, within the anchor text.

Partial Match Anchor Text

Example: “bikes” or “cool looking bikes”
Partial match anchor text, contains part of your keyword phrase.

Branded Anchor Text

Branded anchor text, is an anchor text phrase, that contains the brand’s name. This can take on several forms: “the people at BT” “BT Telecoms” or “bt coms are great”

Random Anchor Text

Examples: “click here,” “home,” or “this really interesting post”

URL Anchor Text

Links that don’t have any text are simply categorised as ‘URL’ anchor text.

Anchor Text Ratios

After looking through all the different types of anchor texts, you might be asking yourself, which ones are the most important or which ones should I be targeting in your link building efforts?

The reality is that they are all important, as they all exist in some capacity in an “natural” back-link profile, but a general rule of thumb is that links containing keywords are going to provide the most value.

What Does Normal Look Like?

Below is a more in-depth breakdown of the anchor text associated with good ranking domains

  • Including your keywords in your anchor text, will help your page rank better for those keywords
  • Exact match anchor text is becoming less valuable, especially in large quantities
  • Phrase match anchor text is a good strategy
  • Branded and brand keyword anchor text is a good strategy
  • Make your back-link profile look normal, try to avoid looking overly optimised as this will bring penalties.

Become an Authority Brand Online

When your website achieves “authority status” and produces high quality content, everyone of Google’s updates is intended to help you. Become an Authority Brand takes time, however is worth it.

Easy Links Do Not Drive Your Business

If you only have the “easy links,” you don’t get any of the great things that being featured on authoritative websites can offer. You don’t get viral traffic, you don’t build your brand presence and you can’t count on your rankings in the future.

What Is a Great Link Building Strategy?

  • Create fantastic content that people love and sites naturally link to you because they want to feature your content.
  • Contact a popular on-line publisher, with an interesting story and get your business featured.
  • Write a guest post for a well-followed blogs, leveraging your business’s unique insights with a link or two back to relevant content on your site.
  • Register your business’s social media profiles on important sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+
  • Submit your website, to a handful of directories with strong editorial oversight like or
  • Add insightful comments on related blog posts, based on your expertise
  • Look at your competitions back-link profiles, see what they are doing, target the high DA and PA websites and spread your message, shout your voice louder.

Google & your new customers will follow. Your traffic levels will increase and so will your conversions!

Matt Cutts talking about Link Building

Link Building Tools

Because this is a living list of tools, since SEO tools come and go over time, here is a long list of various link building tools for you to use:

Remember, if you want to let us help with any section of your website optimisation  we are more than willing to. contact us today for a free review of your on-line marketing.

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