Lee Odden

The Incredibly Useful Value of Links Beyond SEO by Dixon Jones

links beyond SEOWhether it was at SES London or one of the many other search marketing conferences in the U.S., I’ve always been able to count on Dixon Jones for great advice on link building. Dixon was recently recognized for his content contributions to the online marketing world in our Top UK Online Marketing Influencers and Bloggers list.

Working with Majestic SEO as their Director of Marketing, (TopRank has used Majestic for years) Dixon has been a fountain of smarts when it comes to the value of of links for SEO, but also for many other purposes. Links are the connective tissue of the web. Before Google and other search engines, links were the only way to find content. Their importance has changed over the years but not diminished.

In this invited guest post, Dixon shares his insight into how link information can be valuable for online marketers, public relations or advertising pros.

Dixon Jones

Dixon Jones

Links are for life, not just for SEO. That is to say – knowledge and insight into the link profile of a URL, or the ability to manipulate it, can help you influence your world way beyond search.

If you’ve ever managed programmers (or been a programmer yourself) you’ll know how easy it is to get into “programming mode” when you wrestle with a problem and try to build the best thing you can, without regard to the real world marketing problem that you are trying to address. In a similar vein, Marketers tend to think about links as “something that affects SEO”. Here’s 5 practical reasons for marketers analysing links beyond search.

1: Do you trust this page or site?

There used to be many tools that showed PageRank in your toolbar and we used PageRank intuitively to get a sense of how much we trusted the page. These days, looking up PageRank on the fly is harder than it used to be as Google clamps down on automated lookups – but you can still to it, using the Optfirst extension available in Chrome and Firefox.

OptFirst Extension

However, the publicly available value of PageRank is only a number between 0-10 and is very rarely updated publicly by Google – maybe twice a year. There are now other metrics, which are more granular than the 0-10 value that PageRank offers. The two most well known are Majestic SEO’s Flow Metrics® and SEOMoz’s Moz Metrics. Both are available in browser extensions. The Majestic SEO Chrome extension will tell you instantly the Trust Flow in a score or 0-100 and the Citation Flow in a score of 0-100. These are different algorithms to PageRank, but are still iterative in nature and give excellent initial indications as to whether you might trust a page or whether it was created yesterday just with a view to scamming you.

2: Should you consider advertising on this site?

MajesticSEO’s Flow Metrics and SEOMoz’s MozMetrics are extremely helpful in understanding whether you should consider any advertising or sponsorship relationship with a site. If you are like me, you get people on a regular basis tracking you down trying to pitch their business model with your site – claiming to have the ideal audience for your business. The headline numbers will give you some idea as to how much advertising on a page might be worth – but actually visiting the strongest of those links will give you an excellent feel for the types of people coming to the site and talking about the site. Indeed – there may be some merit in using Majestic’s Trust Flow score to create a dollar value as to how much you might bid or pay for advertising on any given page or site, as it is more qualitative that just visitor counts, link counts or referring domain counts alone.

3: Understand the history of any business

Looking at the way in which a website has developed links over time give an indication as to not only the age of the business, but the strength of the business. This is easy to see for free using Majestic’s free link history charts. In particular – when looking at a site, looking at the referring domain pattern, not the referring link pattern, because site wide links over time can cause the latter chart to appear more erratic than the business deserves. In addition, switching the chart to a cumulative one will show you how a business has built over time.

4: Find other websites in a group

Often, one business represents its business through many brands. Usually there will be links of some sort between the brands – but even if there aren’t, they often all reside on the same server or – in the case of large companies – the same data center and therefore the some IP range. One of the cool things that you can do for free on Majestic is see what domains reside on a given IP number or range, simply by looking at the links into that IP number. Other systems do this as well. For example Domaintools.com.

5: Find the REAL influencers in any vertical

We all know that Lee Odden is influential in search, because we are reading his blog right now! (unless you are reading a scraped version, which is even more of a testament to his influence that someone should take the trouble to steal his content). But if you knew nothing about the industry, could links help to find the main influencers?

At least two companies that I know of have invested in being able to find these people through back link analysis. Linkdex and CognitiveSEO both are able to take link data wholesale, then parse the link URLs to see what type of pages and links these are. They both do a pretty good job of finding links embedded particularly in BLOG content. If the blog pages themselves are influential (again we are back to Flow Metrics® or Page Rank® to see this) then we have ourselves an influential blogger for that vertical.

Now you have 5 useful ways to use web page link data for purposes that range from determining advertising value to discovering influencers for blogger relations and outreach.  How are you using link analysis and tracking tools outside of search engine optimization?

Save the date: If you want to find out how to use link tracking tools like Majestic SEO for creative content marketing purposes, be sure to check out my session at SES London on Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets on Tuesday, February 19th  at 11:45am.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Enjoyed the post Dixon, it’s good to hear people talking about links without simply SEO in mind. I work for typical B2B company and we often have to make decisions with new customers about whether we should give them account status or not. A quick backlink analysis can tell me much more than just looking at the site – links from high authority sites and strong historical data are good indicators that they aren’t going to run off without paying!

  2. Link Value as a metric should definitely extend beyond the implied value toward a shift in rankings, I hope this becomes a regular topic of discussion because it will enrich the overall online user experience as well as prove beneficial for SEO’s clients.

  3. Some great stuff in here, Dixon, thanks. I think the last point is one that gets missed all too frequently – the fact that a business can understand the network around it (or its competitors) by analysing links. There are valuable insights to be gleaned from this type of analysis when done properly. (small addendum: your last sentence should say February, not January; and I’d love to be there 🙂

  4. Avatar Dixon Jones says

    Thanks for the comments guys. Some useful ideas in there, which I have also thought about. The “quick credit check” is something I do as well, Patrick. To be honest, I am surprised it isn’t (to my knowledge) used as a trust signal (or lack of) in purchasing online. Infact, who wants to build a “confidence” Firefox extension? It could combine our flow metrics and backlink history data with traffic data and Whois lookup to see how likely the site is a phishing scam.

  5. Great article Dixon! There’s a lot more tracking tools aside from PageRank, marketers should try this Majestic SEO if they want to improve the creativity of their content.

  6. Avatar Hemanth Malli says

    Thanks for sharing your valuable insights Dixon ..got to learn new things from your post about Majestic SEO.

  7. I’d say something new I have come across about the links. Being an internet marketer it is hard to see links out of SEO purpose!!

  8. Avatar Patrick Ryan says

    It is
    very true that if your business is popular, people will search for you and
    look for you, people will choose your site over another in the SERPs even
    when you rank lower. Google will be forced to recognize you because, in the
    end, they need to deliver what we want. From the SEO standpoint, links help
    make sure you’re there to be chosen.

  9. This post is really good to check the quality of web page on many factors

    How we can use the seo moz linkscape api to checks link quality.

  10. This post is really good to check the quality of web page on many factors

    How we can use the seo moz linkscape api to checks link quality.