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How To Terrify Executives Into Linkbuilding

Much has been written about the poor in-house SEO, fighting the good fight to inculcate SEO awareness and best practices throughout the organization. This is an unenviable task and more than one in-house has shared a narrative with me that sounds something like this:

 SEO:  “So, I’m concerned that we’re not proactively link-building and that may have a negative impact on our high quality in bound traffic.”

Executive:  “But when I type-in the company’s name, we are number one in Google.”

SEO:  “Yes, well you are getting personalized results AND there’s a lot more to . . .”

Executive:  “Don’t worry, we have a lot of PageRank juice all over our website.” 

SEO:  “But the amount of converting traffic has declined over the past . . .” 

Executive:  “Besides spiders really like our platform.  Robots do too.” 

SEO:  “OK, I’ll go clean up all that PageRank juice.  Where’s the mop and bucket?”  

The purpose of this post is to provide SEO’s with a series of metrics with which to evaluate your link profile as well as a series of visuals with which to scare MBAs into action. (Or at least approving a budget.)

While I’ve written against benchmarking within your own industry; for internal reporting to business executives, comparing your company to competitors can be extremely effective for galvanizing support and loosening pursestrings.

To make your job easier, I’m drawing data entirely from free tools – primarily Blekko, Majestic and SEOmoz. The former offers SEO data after every search; the latter two offer products: Site Explorer and Open Site Explorer, not to be confused with Yahoo’s . . . . errrr . . . Site Explorer.

For demonstration purposes, I’ll compare Urbanspoon to OpenTable, now that both are in the online reservations space. Accessing these tools is pretty easy and there are more than a few browser plug ins that aggregate some reporting. I use SEO for Chrome Extension for a very quick, cursory look.

Of course, the obvious starting point is a simple overall metric.

Google PageRank is an obvious (and simplistic, poor, inadequate, misleading) choice, that many fallaciously believe aggregates all of that delicious Google Juice into a simple number.

Both SEOmoz  and Majestic offer a variety of metrics on a 100 point scale – Domain mozrank (SEOmoz) and Domain Authority (Majestic) are their respective attempts to calibrate Page Rank.

The problem with overall metrics, of course, is that they tell a very, very small part of the picture.

Instead, let me suggest a variety of supplemental metrics that are both actionable and highly scary (read: competitive) to MBA types.

Competitive Domain Diversity Ratios

I prefer to use domain diversity to evaluate the quality of linkbuilding campaigns. It’s not a perfect metric; however, it more accurately reflects genuine linkbuilding initiatives than sheer link volume. Looking at the sheer number of links entirely misses the point.

To wit – a single site with a footer link could generate thousands, even millions of links, all of which are completely useless.

Get domain diversity from Majestic under the Linking Domains tab – be sure to update the pulldown for “pages on this root” (below). In Blekko, just do a search for your site, click, seo underneath the result and then hit “inbound links” under Domain SEO.

On SEOmoz’s OpenSite Explorer, make sure you look at the entire domain by using the drop down “pages on this root” and then running the report.

Note:  you only get three freebies daily with SEOmoz; at some point, Majestic prompted me to create a free account too, which gave me enough reports to write this article in one day.

Compare these three reporting tools and graph:

Cumulative Domain Diversity from Majestic

Graphically depict differences in domain diversity over time with Majestic’s historic reporting.

This requires a free account with Majestic to get access to their cumulative domain report and graphically compare your site with up to 4 competitors.

Non-Homepage Links

The true art of an SEO’s linkbuilding lies in the ability to drive links to interesting content, not your PR team’s ability to drive stories that link to the homepage (although these links are extremely valuable.)

Look at your homepage to non-homepage link ratio. (You are shooting for the lowest percentage of links going to your homepage here.) I can do this easily with Blekko, Majestic or SEOmoz data.  Here’s the reporting from Majestic:

Just run reports for both the Root Domain and the Page and calculate a ratio of homepage:overall on both links and domains. Below is the data from Majestic with 5 different domains:

Again, if you can look at this from a link perspective, it tells a very different story than the domain perspective. My strong bias is that domain comparison is much more reflective of overall organic link strength of a site.

The next three graphs are based on the assumption that overall link strength is reflected in your long tail results.

Ideally, you should see growth in both the number of landing pages and the number of different keywords brining traffic to your site. You can get both of these from Google Analytics (and obviously can’t get them for your competitors).

Number Of Landing Pages

Number Of Keywords

Sitemap:Crawl:Index:Entry Ratio

Finally, the grandaddy of all data wrapped into a single visual. This reviews the effectiveness of all of your pages at driving traffic. This is based on the assumption that the better your link profile, the more pages you’ll get crawled, the more pages will be indexed and the more pages will get traffic.

You can make pretty scary graphs that would make any MBA Strategy 101 class proud by turning these into stacked area graphs in either absolute (to show progress over time) or relative (to show the percentage of your pages that don’t have a chance of getting any traffic).


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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