Can link building be measured ? What link building metrics do you know and are they effective? Like all activities within digital marketing, we should be able to measure and quantify the ROI of our efforts creating links. What is not measured can not be improved. We need accurate metrics to know if we are doing well, given the time and money spent, or if we can do better. In this post I give you some guidelines to put your link building in numbers, and thus be able to know if you have come out in green or red from your last SEO Off Page campaign. What do we want to measure? ROI vs SEO metrics vs link building metrics The first thing to decide which metric we are going to use is to know what we need it for. Are we going to measure the effectiveness of a completed campaign, or are we estimating the effectiveness of a possible link to our page? They are two very different purposes and require different metrics. To estimate the SEO effectiveness or “authority” of a link we could use metrics such as DA and PA (although with caution, I’ll tell you why later). But to quantify the past bull’s success of a link building campaign metrics such as DA and PA are absolutely useless. You simply cannot measure the results of a link building effort in terms of third-party SEO metrics such as PA, because they only serve to “estimate.” These types of metrics are approaches that we make, from the outside, to the real authority that Google assigns to a link, and by themselves they do not prove anything. We can hang a medal for getting a link with PA 50, but if that link does not bring sales, conversions or at least traffic, it will have been of no use. With that said, let’s see what we can actually get out of each metric and when to use each type. DA, PA and other SEO metrics to estimate the strength of a link As I have already said, this first bag includes all those metrics developed by software companies, such as MOZ, Ahrefs and Majestic, to approximate the force assigned to each url by the Google algorithm. They can be more or less effective, but ALL of them have a couple of fundamental disadvantages: 1) They start from an index, or database of urls, which is not identical to Google’s, and which is actually smaller. 2) Google does not consider all links equally and has algorithms. Like for example Penguin, designed to exclude links considered spam from their ranking formula. This makes it even more difficult for third-party metrics to “hit” or approximate the value that Google gives to a particular link. Since its sample is even further from reality, the sample that Google uses MOZ, Ahrefs, and Majestic are the 3 most popular providers of link data. We are going to see the pros and cons of each set of metrics. Linkbuiding metrics in MOZ Burkina Faso Email List Moz has created a set of metrics that have become very popular in the market for buying and selling links. At least at a basic level, they have been practically the industry standard for comparing links for years. And all this, despite the fact that until the last update of their LInk Explorer tool, they were the least reliable metrics of this type (recognized by themselves, as you can see in this post from Moz ). Why were they less reliable than Ahrefs or Majestic? Very simple, because the sample from which they started (the Mozscape Index) was much smaller than that of their competitors. And to top it all it was updated less frequently (sometimes months passed between one update and the next). All of this seems to have changed with the latest version of Link Explorer, which now has a much larger database of 5 billion links. And it is also updated day by day. In any case, in order not to play with incomplete data, do not simply trust when a blog or online medium tells you that it has a PA or a DA of x. Always look at it in the MOZ tool itself, to make sure we are talking about the updated metric, and not the one from months ago. Link building metrics in Ahrefs Ahrefs is part of one of the most comprehensive link databases in the industry ( 12 billion links according to them). Not only is it bigger, but it is updated more frequently, given that the Ahrefs bot is the most active crawler on the entire internet, after Google itself. With this, I am already telling you that its proprietary metrics, DR and UR, are more reliable than those of Moz (before the new version) or Semrush, although they are not infallible for that reason.
Of course, if we are going to look at one of them, it is better to do it in UR (URL Rating). THE UR is an estimate based on the links that go directly to that url. Because the DR is an aggregate of the estimates of all the urls of a domain. For not going into more detail, DR is an estimate of estimates, and in any case a metric that evaluates domains can never be entirely effective, because the link juice is transmitted from url to url, not from domain to domain. Link building metrics in Majestic Majestic has a very broad link index too ( 7 trillion links in its Historic Index ). In addition, it has an advantage, and that is that it is organized by subject areas. This is an additional way of approaching the fact that Google gives more importance to the links considered most relevant to the page that is linked. If you’re trying to rank for a gardening keyword, links from other pages that talk about gardening will be more valuable than links from a music page. Majestic has two metrics, Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF). Citation Flow takes into account the total number of links found to a page, while the second metric only takes into account the number of links from pages considered “reliable” or of quality. Of course, Majestic has its own way of calculating or estimating this degree of confidence, and it doesn’t have to be 100% consistent with the way Google does. The Trust Flow, and this is perhaps the best thing about Majestic, is then divided by subject. So you can see your score within the subject that interests you. This score is higher, the more connected a page is with others that Majestic considers trustworthy within that theme. Link building metrics in Semrush Semrush is a great tool for other things, like analyzing the organic and paid keywords of a domain, but I don’t recommend it for backlink analysis. The reason is the same as for Moz before releasing its latest version of Link Explorer. The link database that Semrush analyzes is really small compared to Ahrefs or Majestic. You can easily see this if you do a quick scan of your website with Semrush, and then with Ahrefs or Majestic. You will see that either of the two tools detects you more backlinks and referring domains than Semrush. Therefore, I do not recommend using it to evaluate the strength of a possible backlink. Metrics that estimate the organic traffic of a link Apart from the metrics that try to estimate the authority of a link, and we have other types of metrics that are based on an estimate of the organic traffic that a page has. Logically, the higher a page ranks for searches with a certain volume on Google, the more traffic they will receive and the more traffic they can send to the pages they link to. On the other hand, very indirectly, if a page ranks well for competing searches, that can also be an indicator of authority. Combining authority metrics with organic traffic metrics increases your chances of finding authoritative pages based on Google’s criteria. Although again, and I will repeat it as many times as necessary in this post, we are only estimating – we never have irrefutable proof. To estimate organic traffic, I recommend trusting three data sources: Sistrix: organic visibility Sistrix is the industry standard for estimating organic traffic for a domain. It is generally used to estimate traffic for an entire domain, and in fact it is more accurate in giving aggregates per domain than accurate estimates for a single page. The lower the volume of organic traffic, the more difficult it is to accurately approximate. The other small weakness of Sistrix is that its keyword index is not too large, (1 million in the basic database, which is crawled every week, and 5 million in the extended version, which is crawled once a month. ). This is quite a bit less than the Semrush or Ahrefs keyword database. Therefore, it is possible that the Sistrix index is missing some of the keywords that may be important to your niche. Ahrefs to estimate organic traffic Ahrefs has the advantage that, again, its keyword database, at least for Spain, is larger than Sistrix’s. Based on my experience in multiple niches, Ahrefs always finds more keywords than Sistrix, so his estimates should be better. As a disadvantage, I must say that the Sistrix algorithm seems somewhat better “cooked” than Ahrefs’. This makes sense, because Sistrix has been perfecting their organic visibility metric for over ten years, and is in fact the star of their SEO data arsenal. While Ahrefs started out as a backlink analysis tool, the topic of analyzing organic traffic has always come second. Although I must say that over time they are improving a lot in this regard. My experience is that when Sistrix has the keywords in its database, it estimates the traffic better than Ahrefs. In any case, if you have a good knowledge of the niche or you have enough data on real traffic from your own project, before deciding whether or not to trust the data from Sistrix or Ahrefs you can compare some of their estimates with real figures in your niche. . Semrush to estimate organic traffic Practically everything said for Ahrefs in this section also applies to Semrush. Their keyword database is certainly larger than Sistrix’s but my experience so far is that Sistrix estimates a domain’s global organic traffic better than Semrus. And for a page with traffic coming from keywords that are in the Sistrix database, it also seems to tune more than Semrush. But nevertheless, in this section Semrush is not behind its competitors, unlike in backlink analysis. How to really estimate the strength of a link? I apologize if with all this data on metrics I have ended up making you dizzy, rather than clarifying things. Knowing all this data that is at our disposal, and the pros and cons of each metric, how to establish an easy and reliable process to guide our link building strategy? I summarize it in 3 steps: 1. Never trust the metrics that the sites or platforms for buying or exchanging links pass on to you. Go to the sources, get your own data and make it as up to date as possible 2. Whenever possible, combine a link “strength” or authority metric, such as PA, UR or CF / TF, with another one of organic traffic, either Sistrix, Ahrefs or Semrush 3. When in doubt, always choose links from pages related to the topic that interests you. This can be done by analyzing “by hand” or with Majestic and its Topical Trust Flow. Now we have the other part of the puzzle: measure results to know if a link building campaign, already finished, has been effective or not. How to measure the ROI of a link As I said in the introduction, it is useless to measure the success of a link building campaign with SEO metrics such as DA, PA, etc. A link building campaign is not done to improve your values in those metrics, but to improve your visibility in Google, receive more qualified traffic and therefore get more sales or customers. For this reason, within the link building metrics it is essential to measure the ROI of a link or an Off Page SEO campaign. For this we will need metrics that clearly show that we have made progress in those areas. First of all, we are going to need a well configured Google Analytics account. If our website is an online store, it is essential that the enhanced ecommerce or improved ecommerce is well configured, in order to have as accurate a record as possible of the sales generated by our links. Tag our link building campaign traffic in Analytics A very common practice in any paid traffic or email marketing campaign is to tag links with UTM parameters. Parameters that will then make it very easy to see the total traffic sent by the campaign in total, and by each of the individual links. If we do this in SEM and email marketing, why not do it for our SEO campaigns?
Well, there is a good reason, and it is that in many cases, if we want our link to appear “natural”, adding these parameters sings too much. And it is also possible that the webmaster who is going to give us the link, does not want to include these parameters. Let’s say that tagging with parameters is anything but discreet, and in SEO, and even more so in link building, discretion is valued. But this does not mean that we cannot tag our links. We can still do it, in a totally discreet way, which only we will see, creating a custom channel or personalized Analytics channel. In this new channel we must integrate all the inbound links that we have obtained in our campaign, and thus we can analyze the traffic from the campaign independently of the rest of the site traffic. What are we going to look at? In this order: sales, goals achieved, user behavior metrics, traffic. Sales : if our website is an online store, we must write down the number of transactions obtained directly by each link, and the total value of those sales. In addition, we must put this value with the total number of sessions or users eu phone number that have come through the link, with the Income per session metric or better yet, Income per user. If you want to know more about this metric and why it is one of the most important for an ecommerce, I recommend you read this post . Objectives : if we are not an ecommerce , we will also have a quantifiable objective within our site, such as budget requests or simply filling out a contact questionnaire. If we are ecommerce, an objective that we can also measure is to add products to the cart or reach the checkout page (all these actions are already registered by default with enhanced ecommerce). Behavioral metrics : although it will not directly increase our income or be reflected in our objectives, it is important to measure the “quality” of the traffic achieved with the campaign. For example, do you have a lower or higher bounce rate than the site average? Do they see more pages per session than the average? What is the duration of the sessions? Traffic : finally, we will measure the total traffic achieved by each link. This is important, but by itself it doesn’t say anything. That is, if we get a lot of traffic, but it is not of quality, does not give objectives and does not buy in our store, it is as if we had not achieved anything. Relate organic growth to each link Finally, it remains to establish a relationship between the link building campaign and organic growth for the pages and keywords worked on. We can do this with Google Analytics or, better yet, with Google Search Console. In Analytics we can make an annotation on the day that our campaign links were published (or to be even more precise, on the date that Google indexed them, although for an overview the publication date would suffice. From there, it is a question of seeing if there is an upline in the number of organic visits achieved by the url that received the link. There is a caveat, and that is that Analytics sometimes records sessions that are not organic as organic. Let me explain: if a user met us through Google, but then for example accesses the landing page directly, Analytics will continue to mark that second visit as organic. Therefore, if your site usually generates recurring visits from users, as is usual in an ecommerce, I do not recommend that you use Analytics to visualize this relationship between link building and organic traffic. In that case, it would be better to trust Search Console, where in addition to organic landing page, you can see results by search. If you have worked on the keyword “premium dog food”, you can choose that keyword as a filter to see the evolution of your organic traffic. Real example of ROI of a link To close all this we are going to see a real example, taken from the Analytics of one of my clients, an ecommerce in the parapharmacy sector. The specific link that we are going to fix on was created on a blog with the same relevant topic and with good traffic. We analyze a period of 3 years, between July 2014, when the first sales arrived from that link, and the same date 3 years later.