Linking and Statistical SEO Tools

This is the third part of our four-part article series on SEO tools. In the last two parts we reviewed keyword research tools, content management systems, image search tools, ranking checkers, analytics tools, social media tools and online copy writing tools. In this third part we list link building tools and statistics tools.

Link Building Tools and Link Analysis Tools

Here’s a list of tools which will assist you in your link building efforts. The most notable are Majestic SEO, LinkScape and Backlink Analyzer. Dig around yourself and do several test searches.

Majestic SEO – Majestic SEO has an index of 52 billion web pages with data on 350 billion links. They have their own crawler, which spiders the web in the same manner as Google and Yahoo, but unlike the major search engines, Majestic SEO shares their link data. When you type “link:domain” into Google, it purposely displays the wrong data, making this command useless. Yahoo Site Explorer is more open, but still limits what you can see.

Majestic SEO lets you see all of the links their crawler found on the web for any domain name. It displays the number of links for free, but to get access to detailed reports you need to purchase credits which cost from £ 2.00 for one credit and up to £ 699.95 for 1000 credits. Payment is with PayPal.

At the moment, from what I learned on their website, Majestic SEO does not differentiate links by quality (except PR), which is a huge factor on Google. The bright side is, one can usually see the quality of the link by looking at the website. Having access to all the links a site has, combined with anchor text, is truly powerful.

LinkScape – LinkScape is similar to Majestic SEO. It maintains an index of 30 billion web pages, and lets webmasters see the anchor text of links, the number of links and other factors, like: mozRank (a copy of page rank), domain level rank, trust rank and more. Read a detailed Linkscape review on SEO Chat.

Back Link Analyzer – This is a free inbound links analyzer tool from SEO Book. It’s downloadable desktop software, so you’ll need to download and install it. Back Link Analyzer gathers data from Yahoo, Google and MSN. You can choose to exclude results from any of those search engines (usually Google, since it’s link data is not real).

The tools is pretty efficient; upon gathering link data from search engines, it extracts the anchor text of each link and shows it in a neat format. Data includes information such as search results, summary, link summary, keyword summary, IP address of the linking page, number of links from the page, linking page title, keywords in page copy, keywords in anchor text, type of domain (.com, .net, etc), pointing page (home, etc), total number of outbound links on the page and more. This is a very useful tool; check it out. Best of all, it’s free.

Yahoo Site Explorer – This is a link analysis tool from Yahoo. Unlike Google, Yahoo shows a large portion of the links of which it’s aware. You can filter results by links to a specific URL, links to a domain, links to a domain/URL excluding internal links. You can also export link data in CSV file. Each link stat shows the page title of the page from which the link is coming, but there’s no anchor text. You have to visit each URL to discover the anchor text.

Solo SEO links search – This tool basically searches for keyword “add url” type commands on Google search. Some of the commands include "add site," "add your site," "submit site," intitle:directory "keyword," inurl:directory "keyword," "keyword blog," keyword "submit content." The down side is that free-for-all links like “submit URL” carry little weight on Google, and can actually hurt if done aggressively and in large numbers. On the bright side, the tool has shortcuts to a load of advanced commands and can save a lot of time. Keep it in mind as you’re doing link analysis.

Link Harvester – This tool relies on data from Yahoo (through Yahoo API), but shows much more than Yahoo Site Explorer. Information it can turn up includes the IP address of each page from which the link comes, gov/mil/edu and other authoritative domain extensions, and the Internet Archives, WhoIs Source, and Google cache near each link. The tool is also hosted at SEO Tips 101 and on Web SEO Design.

URL Trends – This tool collects link data from Google, Alexa, Yahoo!, MSN, AllTheWeb, Alta Vista, Teoma and IceRocket, as well as PageRank and Alexa Rank. URL Trends shows General Page Information, Site Rankings, Link Popularity, Search Engine Saturation, Social Bookmarks/Sites, Keywords, Outgoing Links, User Demographics and Cached Versions.

Its link data compares link information from Google, Yahoo and MSN. I haven’t used this tool much, so dig around to find more useful features.

BackLink Watch – This is another link analysis tool that relies on the search engines for data. I find the above tools more useful, as they provide more data.

Statistics tools will help you analyze search trends, website trends, the relationship of different events to search volume and more.

Google Trends – This tool is useful for spotting seasonal spikes in search volume (Christmas, holidays) and for tracking search volume in relation to different events like economic factors, wars, press releases, media campaigns, etc. Google Trends also shows news releases corresponding to each spike in search volume.

As you study this tool, you’ll realize how accurately Google can relate different events to search volume and link patterns. What this means is that, to have a large spike of link growth, that growth has to be related to something (unless it’s a natural rate). You can also observe how the search volume for specific terms progresses through months and years.

Google Insights – This is another statistics tool from Google. The difference between Google Trends and Google Insights is that this tool emphasizes geography more. It shows search volume distribution for countries, states and cities (the keyword must meet a minimum threshold). You can filter results by years, 12 months, 90 days, 30 days and 7 days. There’s also the ability to select for a vast number of categories. Google Insights is related to Google Trends, but if you compare results for exact keywords for specific cities you’ll find many conflicts.

Google Trends for Websites – The website version of Google Trends has a graph that represents the flow of unique visitors to a specific domain. The tool doesn’t show the number of visitors; rather, it shows a flow line. Just as with classic Google Trends, you can see how the visitor flow line relates to seasonal changes and news events. You can actually spot website press releases and see how much they influenced traffic and brand awareness.

You can also check keywords which send referrals, countries/states/cities which send referrals and websites visited by the same visitors. The tool is limited to a certain search volume. Most likely you won’t see your competitors, unless they are a big corporation. Many small webmasters were not happy with this tool, so I believe Google raised their minimum search volume qualification.

Google Ad Planner – This is a media buying tool similar to Comscore and Quantcast. See what visitor demographics visit different websites before buying ads on those sites. Filters go by age, income, country, gender and education. I personally believe you’re better off finding advertisers yourself, but it eases the process for large, corporate media buys. Read the Google Ad Planner review on SEO Chat.

QuantCast – This tool is similar to Google Ad Planner, and it’s also free. Filters include Demographics, Age breaks, Gender, Household income, Ethnicity, Education, Children in household, US geography, Content category and Site size (min/max). Data is collected from several participating users and is mixed with participating publishers who voluntarily share their data (by putting a small script on the site).

If you’re a publisher, you can benefit from participation in the program, since this is a media buying tool and can send you advertiser referrals. The tool is good for creating a general list of websites, but you still have to do manual labor to spot the best ones.

Compete.com – This is a very affordable statistics and competitive intelligence tool. Their site traffic tracking and comparison is biased and inaccurate (just like Alexa), but their keyword reports are killer. For $10 – $30 you can purchase keyword reports for your competitors and see which keywords send referrals to their website.

You can also find competing traffic sources, like search engines, other sites, blogs, etc. For around $10 you can purchase an industry keyword report, which covers around 5000 – 20000 keywords each. This report is extremely useful for marketing and intent analysis of the target market.

Alexa – This company collects data from the Alexa toolbar, but the data is not accurate. You can do a site comparison just as with Compete.com, but take it with a big grain of salt. Many webmasters have shared their web stats and there are astronomical differences.

Comscore – This is an online media buying tool. Comscore releases monthly search engine market share stats along with Hitwise, Compete and Nielsen Online.

In the next, final article, we’ll cover competitive research tools, pay-per-click tools, domain tools and a number of professional development tools used by leading search engine optimization firms.

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