LinkRating: Evaluate the Quality of the Link Profile
In March 2014 we added the new feature “LinkRating” to the link module. Its purpose is to rate the quality of a website’s link-profile and to transparently display these links. With LinkRating you manual link audits become even more efficient.
Table of Contents
Why is LinkRating so important?
LinkRating enables you to unite the link data of many external sources with those of the SISTRIX Toolbox. This allows you to analyse and rate as many links as possible, in one place.
We will use 50 different rating metrics on every link, and then compare them to 30 specific rules. A huge part of your manual link-auditing work will become much easier by using LinkRating.
Links from article directories will be automatically recognised and marked. You will be able to see if the link is part of a navigation, or if it is a content link. Did the domain offer to sell links in the past? We have a database for that.
The quality of a domain’s link profile is important when it comes to getting good positions on Google. High quality links help the searchengine recognise the trustworthiness of a domain. You can leverage links, in interaction with other ranking factors, to get ahead in the race for the best search results.
Google also rates the link profiles of websites. One of the ways they do this is through the Google Penguin Update, which is also known as the webspam update. You can read more about the Penguin Update in "Ask SISTRIX".
Another reason for a regular tending to your link profile are the automatic spam measures that Google uses against link profiles which were created unnaturally. Google knows a lot of domains that offer links and can manually punish the buyers’ pages. For LinkRating, we have and maintain our own database of such domains, which allows us to show you if your domain is getting links from domains that have been known to sell links before.
Why not get an equal fighting chance against Google? In the following tutorial we will give you an example of how LinkRating works and the features that are available.
Creating A New LinkRating Project
After logging in, you will be on the start page for the Toolbox. Click in the blue navigation bar on “Links” and then scroll to the LinkRating-display. There, please click on “To LinkRating”. Alternatively, just visit https://uk.sistrix.com/linkrating.
To start a new project, click on the green “Create New Project” button, which opens a new entry mask.
In the entry mask below, choose all the data sources you want to incorporate into the evaluation. For this tutorial I will use the data from the SISTRIX Toolbox, SEOkicks, Google Webmaster Tools and ahrefs.com. All these different data sources will then be merged by the Toolbox and checked for their availability.
The SISTRIX and SEOkicks data will be used automatically. For the other sources you have to manually export the data from each source and import them during the above project creation. To get more information on each source, just click on the question mark behind each option.
Should you already have a Disavow file, you can also upload it. These links will then be excluded from the rating, as they do not matter to Google anymore, when it comes to automatic filters or other possible punishments.
All the data you import get saved only in this specific project. If you delete the project, all the uploaded linkdata will be deleted from the SISTRIX Toolbox.
Even before the crawling starts, we will show you how many URLs were found in each external source.
Now, just click on “Create Project” and the links will be checked by our crawler. Once the analysis is running, you can see the overview of the progress and, once it is done, go straight to the results.
What does the LinkRating analysis have to offer?
All the links that have been combined from the different sources are now able to be analysed after being freshly crawled. Duplicates within the sources are excluded, which means that you now have a unique overview over the “true” link profile for your domain. The more data you integrate from external sources when doing a LinkRating evaluation, the closer you will get to covering 100 % of links to your website.
You are now able to use our expert mode with a lot of filters to analyse the links for your LinkRating project. You should also take a look at “Link Rating” to find out which links may pose a risk and might have to be deleted.
Get an overview over your linktargets, anchortexts and the domains that link to your website.
In the tutorial “Tips for detecting a natural link profile” you will learn more about how standard values, like anchortexts, should be distributed in your pages link profile. The next section primarily talks about rating the overall quality of the link profile.
Dashboard – LinkRating
Once the crawl is done, take a look at the dashboard. The dashboard already provides you with a good overview over your link profile. Up top, you will see the box “Link Rating” which will contain a bar with up to four colours and a few percentages. You cannot tell if a link profile is good or bad just by looking at these values, however – you need to take a closer look at the details.
The second box will give you an overview of the page types that link to your domain. My example clearly shows that most links came from pages where the actual page type could not be discerned. After that there are blogs, news pages, forums, shops, wiki-pages, article pages and, finally, Feeds.
Afterwards, we will show you the distribution of startpage- and subpage-links, as well as the balance of Follow- to Nofollow-links.
Which values for start- and subpages work and seem natural is something only you can find out by comparing them to those of your competitors. As a rule of thumb, there are no pages (except new domains) that are made up entirely of either a startpage or subpages only. So-called “One-Pagers” are an exception.
The page comes to a close with the list of top10 linktexts for the domain. You can view the entire list by going to “Linktext” in the left-hand navigation.
The entry point for most users to reviewing your links is the menu item “Link Rating” in the navigation to the left. Here, you will find different categories where we combine links to a specific theme. You can show risky links (Error-Box, marked red) and also warnings and notices. Trust-links will also be shown in the Toolbox – these are links that are especially trusted by Google.
Our example domain only has 0.10 % of links in the red area. Let us look at these links and find out why they are red. This “Why” question is quickly answered.
These are all links from domains which have been offering links for sale, in the past, be it through mediators or specific platforms where you can buy and rent links. It is highly likely that Google itself is well aware of such domains, which is why owning links from domains like these can prove to be fatal.
My example domain has 3 links from 2 domains which were known to have been offering links, currently or in the past. If this is the case for you, too, look at the links directly and write them down to maybe add them to your Disavow-file.
The red-marked link, for example, might have been from a blog which mentions Google’s ranking factors and linked to the example domain for additional information. A quick look on the current content, however, shows that a change has occurred and that the posts may now have been created for payment. It does not matter why a link was created “back then”. If a website in its current state does not comply with Google’s guidelines, it is always advisable to remove these links or add them to your Disavow-file. This is exactly what will happen to the marked link – it will be disavowed.
Tip: While going through the LinkRating evaluation, always have a text-document open. This way, you can quickly jot down all links that need to be disavowed.
It is interesting to note that even links from WordPress.com subdomains can show up for this error. It is a simple fact that linkbuilding is often done by agencies and freelancers by distributing links through such platforms.
NoFollow links on these platforms are not much of a risk. LinkRating, however, works by using multiple criteria which give plus- and minus points if the different rating metrics or the specific rules that are part of the LinkRating evaluation are triggered. During your evaluation you can transparently see these points in the “Links” table.
The warnings will show you potential problem sources. Links from web catalogues, or press reports, for example. Even though PR-reports are not inherently bad and are not seen as negative, they can be misused for Linkbuilding, in some cases, which can cause problems. Especially PR-posts that are released through mass distributors on 50-100 external domains can become a problem when the next Google Penguin Update comes around.
The SISTRIX Toolbox currently contains 19 warnings. For our example, 12 of the 19 possible warning categories were triggered.
You should always take a look at all the links. For the example page, I was able to find a link to our page in the section “Unnatural ratio between numbers and words” which from a SPAM-page that usually contains links to potency pills and casinos. Of course this link was immediately added to the Disavow-list.
The Notices show link sources that, for example, have a very large source code, or which do not use a title tag. As with the warnings, you should take a look at the results to get a general idea.
There are currently two trust signals in the SISTRIX Toolbox – links from Wikipedia, and links that bring traffic. To measure traffic you have to connect your Toolbox account to Google Analytics. Once this connection has been established, you can also run additional evaluations in the Toolbox. For example, to check how much traffic your page gets from which URLs, where these URLs rank in Google, and for which keywords.
Links By Country
After you went through the categories in “Link Rating” you can, for example, continue with “Countries”. This page will show you an overview of which countries the website’s linking to your domain are in. For example, for my example page I am seeing 297 domains hosted in the USA.
To check these links, just go to “Links” in the left-hand navigation. There, you will find the expert mode for the link analysis and you can use filters to search for everything that interests you – in this case we will search for the USA-links.
By using the filter “Country Code” you may be able to see some links that probably should not be part of the link profile of your page. These are links on gambling, potency pills, adult entertainment and credit cars, for example.
Tip: If you have a forum on your site, use the Link-module or LinkRating to specifically search for links that point to user profiles. In many cases those are SPAM-links generated by software. The linked pages often also contain external links to casino-centric and similar pages.
Linktexts and linktargets are also really important for rating the quality of your link profile. You may find different conspicuous words in your linktexts, that have nothing to do with your site – for example adult entertainment terms. Such Linktexts show up in large numbers, for example, after a “Negative-SEO” attack and are immediately shown in the results.
You should also keep an eye on linktargets. Like we said in the tip above, external links to forum profiles can be an indicator for possible SPAM-links. Otherwise, you can also see which of your pages are being linked to often, by looking into the list of the linktargets.
With LinkRating we offer you a tool which enables you to rate and survey links on the basis of many factors. The Toolbox goes through the initial review for you, without pointing out a link as “dangerous” or similar. The final decision on whether a link is dangerous for your domain will always have to be made by yourself.
You should not start to use LinkRating only after Google has taken manual measures or your website is affected by a Penguin Update, but even before that. Minimise the risk of your website getting flagged by a filter or manual penalty.