Citation Flow and Trust Flow: Everything You Should Know
Trust flow and citation flow metrics, sounds like a new term?
Same here for me. Before knowing what the flow metrics are, if I came across the term, I thought what the heck is this? What’s the difference between ‘EM?
I Googled several times: What is trust flow? Citation flow vs. trust flow. I have even heard many webmasters saying – “I am having trouble understanding citation flow versus trust flow”. Today I will put an end to that confusion.
Unlike all the SEO concepts, it was a bit difficult for me to understand. Especially the difference between them. However, I understood the flow metrics . I am writing this post to help you understand the flow metrics if you are baffled by these terms.
With the extinction of Google PageRank, the secondary metrics matters a lot. Metrics like Domain authority, Trust flow, and citation flow are becoming the ranking factors in Google.
The flow metrics are updated every day, so they are more accurate.
The sites like Moz and MajesticSEO are great at ranking and determining the authority of the sites or blogs. You can’t just easily trick these metrics, like that of Google PageRank.
You can accurately determine the trust of the site with this.The job of ranking of sites has become much easier for Google with the introduction of trust and citation flow metrics.
What is citation flow?
A metric designed to predict how influential a link in a site might be, by considering the links pointing to it. It does not bother about the quality of links. If there are more domains pointing to a blog post, then the more influential it is.
In this context, it’s important to know what “influential” means.
The capacity of your site or blog, to have an impact on the readers of your blog or those who are interested in your niche.
All trust flow factors also are the factors for citation flow. If trust flow increases, citation flow should also increase. There is no rule that citation flow should be increased equally to the increase in trust flow.
However, if the citation flow increases, there is no rule that trust flow should also increase.
Remember that, if some sites with high citation flow link to your site, then you get high citation flow boost with fewer inbound links.
Consider trust flow also. Because links from sites with high C.F but poor T.F, negatively affect your site, although boosts your citation flow.
What is trust flow?
A metric designed to decide how trustworthy a link is based on the QUALITY of backlinks pointing to the site.
If there are authoritative, trustworthy backlinks to a site, then the greater is the trust flow.
The trust flow of almost every site or link is less than the citation flow. Why?
A site may have tons of backlinks. But, not all of them are high quality and have TRUST.
Even though you strictly make sure that you have only quality backlinks, there will be low-quality backlinks that are generated automatically by various directories or other sorts of backlinks.
In simple words, there is less chance of getting all high-quality backlinks. Hence, TRUST FLOW cannot overtake CITATION FLOW most of the times.
Also, it is observed that there is a direct correlation between the trust flow of a domain and the amount of organic traffic it is getting.
If a site has high trust flow, then it means that it has a high-quality backlink profile. High-quality backlinks give Google rankings boost.
In Layman’s terms, high trust flow is the clear sign of having high-quality content to Google and other search engines. If there are more backlinks to a site that carry the trust flow, then it is the sign that the site is getting decent organic traffic.
Trust flow and citation flow ratio
The ratio between the above two metrics matters a lot in determining the overall trust of the site.If a site has a citation flow of 40 and trust flow of 20 then the ratio is 2:1 or 0.5. The maximum ratio possible most of the times is 0.9. However, Google is an exception, it has the ratio of 98:99.
Nearing the ratio of 1 is desirable. Average trust to citation flow ratio should be 0.50. More the authority and trustworthy the site, the ratio is higher.
If the trust flow is greatly lesser than the citation flow, then it is clear that the site is having low-quality large amount of backlinks. QUALITY backlinks among the tons of backlinks is higher in case of authoritative site
How to measure flow metrics?
You can head over to MajesticSEO, enter the URL, use fresh index (default), and hit search. Now it should return the backlink profile of that URL. It also returns the flow metrics along with this.
There is a fair usage policy for non-signed up users. If you would like to extend this limit, you need to register for a free account. Installing the MajesticSEO extension for Chrome or Firefox might be a better option. It helps you, easily look up for flow metrics of any site.
If you want to check and compare the flow metrics of multiple URLs at once, you can use Bulk Backlink Checker tool, Raven SEO tools also make use of MajesticSEO API to pull flow metrics data. There are several advantages of using MajesticSEO.
Identifying top influencers in your niche.
Identifying the real problem for Penguin penalty.
Link quality analysis.
Prevention of irrelevant link building (with the help of topical flow metrics)
Finding great content.
7 GOLDEN points to increase flow metrics
Increasing trust flow should be the main goal. To keep up the healthy ratio, trust flow should be higher. Increasing citation flow is somewhat pointless. Indirectly it means that, QUALITY OF BACKLINKS WIN OVER QUANTITY.
In 1000 backlinks vs. one authoritative backlink, the authoritative backlink is the clear winner.
Guest posting is the best way to get authoritative backlinks. However, guest posting should be kept to a minimum. The frequency at which the backlinks are built should be kept to a minimum, especially if your blog or site is new.
You should build links from authoritative sites within your niche only. Because MajesticSEO also takes account of topical trust scores. You should have a higher trust score in your niche or topic, to be ranked higher in Google.
Great internal linking strategies help in increasing the trust flow and citation flow. Strong homepage with high flow metrics can influence the pages linked from the homepage. Having backlinks to both the homepage and internal pages boosts flow metrics greatly.
.Gov and .Edu backlinks carry more trust score to your site or blog.
No-follow links also carry citation flow to some extent, but not trust flow.
Shortly with the extinction of PageRank (internally not extinct), Google would stress more and more on other metrics. Improving other metrics naturally helps in the long term.
Gaining quality backlinks is the only way to be ranked higher in Google. With the quality backlinks all the other metrics like flow metrics and domain authority increases.
Increase in other metrics is the great signal for Google to rank the site or blog higher in SERPs.
Who knows? Perhaps this is the first step of MajesticSEO in path of building its own search engine. Increasing flow metrics would be beneficial to rank higher in their probable future search engine.MozTrust is also similar to trust flow.
It also measures the trust what search engines, indirectly users put on your site.
Make sure you check MozTrust along with T.F, for accurate results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) determines how high a website ranks in common search engines like Google. Whatever type of business you run, whether it’s a communications consultancy or a cake shop, an effective SEO strategy is a smart way to boost visibility online, attract new clients, grow your business — and boost profits.
To do so, you’ll need to work on website SEO ranking. This helps your website become more visible to potential customers and allows you to appear on search results for specific queries relevant to your business.
In this guide, we’re going to highlight the essential strategies and ways to improve website SEO ranking. Read on to see some of the recommendations we have compiled for you.
1. High-Quality Content
High-quality content is at the core of SEO success. To attract search engines, you need to populate your website with content.
To start, ensure every page includes at least 300 words of original content. Search engines can detect duplicate content and may penalize your page for using copied content. Content should be broken into shorter chunks, for instance, with H2 subheadings, so it’s easy to scan.
Above all, content should meet Google’s EAT criteria: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google introduced this terminology in 2018. EAT is particularly critical for sensitive topic matters, such as health care, science, and law.
Factors that boost an EAT score include citing respected experts (e.g., if you run a health care website, refer to medical professionals) and referring to reliable sources (such as “.edu” or “.gov” sites).
2. On-Page SEO
Content doesn’t just need to be high-quality. It also needs to be optimized for search engines. How do you do that? You can start with this basic checklist for on-page SEO:
Choose one primary keyword for the page and three to four related keywords.
Include the primary keyword in your URL.
Ensure your title tag, meta description, and H1 include your primary keyword.
Content should be high-quality and written for an eighth-grade reading level.
Vary content structure to make it scannable (e.g., use H2s and H3s effectively with bullet lists).
Make sure internal links use effective anchor text.
Include at least one image.
From there, you’ll want to dive into more specifics. Keywords are critical. Every page should be optimized for one unique keyword. You should also include a title that will attract readers in the form of an H1 tag. This indicates to the search engine that this text is the page title and what the page is about.
Images are another important element of content optimization. Aim to add at least one image per page. This makes the content more visually attractive and interesting to readers while also showing search engines that the content has value. Image files should be labeled using the image file name and should have the primary keyword as the image alt tag and image title.
It’s also recommended to insert links to high-quality sites with a good ranking throughout your content. Internal links are also helpful. They direct readers to different pages within your website, keeping them engaged.
3. Effective Keywords
Keywords are a critical consideration for on-page optimization. Your content should include target keywords — basically, what words or phrases users might look for that would ideally lead them to your page.
Keywords tell the search engine what your page is about. In addition to a primary keyword for each page, it’s also good to have supporting secondary keywords.
Keywords are also important beyond the actual webpage content. You should create a meta title and meta description for every page, for example. This brief page title and description are listed in the SERP. Again, this is just a quick primer to why keywords matter and how you can make them work for you. Our keyword research tools can help.
Start with Keyword Overview tool, where you’ll get a comprehensive look at the particular query you’re targeting — including total search volume, how competitive the space is, and key SERP features.
It’s also incredibly helpful when working with the pillar/cluster model for content. You’ll be able to see related keywords with common questions associated with your query. These serve as great jumping-off points when generating future topic clusters and larger pillars related to your initial keyword.
4. Useful Backlinks
Some of the ways to improve your online visibility have nothing to do with what’s on your website, but on other people’s websites. As more and more people are directed to your website from other websites, Google recognizes this and can rank your site higher accordingly. So, how do you drive that traffic?
Backlinks are the answer. These are links on other websites that direct people to your site. When your site is consistently referred to by other quality websites, Google recognizes that it’s trusted. Such backlinks are even more useful if the linking website is trustworthy. Semrush has a whole host of useful tools to analyze your and your competitors’ backlink portfolios.
An effective way to generate quality backlinks is to create a compelling infographic and allow other websites and blogs to use it in their content. Users love to share infographics, especially when they have relevant or important data!
Venngage is an easy tool for creating infographics yourself. Craft your visual based on some important statistics or facts relevant to your industry and email it to others in your field, inviting them to share it with their audience. When they publish the infographic, they should include a reference and backlink to you.
Fantastic content won’t get you far if your platform is not accessible and secure. You also won’t be able to generate high-quality backlinks if your website isn’t seen as trusted. To ensure your website is secure, use HTTPS encryption. This gives your site SSL certificates, creating a secure connection between your platform and your end-users and protects information that the users might provide to the site, such as passwords.
To ensure your website is accessible, you need it to be well-coded. This makes it easier for Google bots to crawl your pages. Inserting a “robots.txt” file informs bots where they should and shouldn’t look for your site information, for example.
It’s also important to have a sitemap, which includes a list-style overview of all pages. This helps Google understand what your site is about.
Crawlability ensures that search engines can find your site. Given that there are billions of webpages live, that’s pretty critical! You want to make it as easy as possible for search engine bots to crawl, index, and understand the type of content you provide.
Crawling refers to the search engine’s process of searching for new or updated webpages. You can check Google Search Console to see how many of your website’s pages Google has crawled.
You should also tell Googlebot what pages not to crawl, using a “robots.txt” file. This should be placed in your site’s root directory. Google Search Console even has a “robots.txt” generator you can use.
For instance, Google advises against allowing internal search results pages to be crawled. Why? Users get frustrated if they click a search engine result but end up on a different search engine result on your website.
7. Load Speed
The digital world has come a long way since it first became available to the general public. The days of waiting impatiently for dial-up connections are long gone. Your webpage construction should reflect that.
Top-positioned Google sites average a load time of fewer than 3 seconds. For ecommerce websites, 2 seconds is considered the threshold of acceptability. According to Google webmasters, Google aims for less than a half-second. And with the latest Page Experience Update almost here, it’s important to work on improving page speed.
Server response time is another issue to tackle. A domain name system (DNS) server holds a database of IP addresses. When someone enters a URL into their browser, the DNS server translates that URL to the relevant IP address. It’s like the computer is looking up a number in the phonebook.
We’ve talked about the importance of creating quality content and content that is SEO-optimized from a technical standpoint. Your content also has to meet one other criterion: It has to be engaging. Google uses the artificial intelligence tool RankBrain to assess user engagement.
RankBrain looks at elements like click-through rate (how many people click when presented with a search engine result) and dwell time (how much time people spend on a site). For example, if a user visits your website but immediately leaves, this will hurt your site performance (if many people do this to your website, you have a high “bounce rate”).
Creating engaging content is the key to luring people in and keeping them there. Use a clear site architecture that makes it easy for people to navigate. High-quality web design, engaging images, and captivating infographics all help keep people on the page.
9. Schema Markup
Schema markup, or structured data, is a type of back-end microdata that tells Google how the page should be classified and interpreted. This data helps the search engine determine the type of page — for example, is it a recipe or a book chapter? Structured data should be relevant, complete, and location-specific.
Schema.org provides a universal language for structured data. This is all part of your backend site architecture. Say you’re creating a recipe page, your schema markup language might include “@type”:“recipe” and “name”: “The Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe.” This article on structured data markup provides more guidance.
10. Site Authority
A website’s authority essentially forecasts how well a website will rank in Google search results. It’s a quick measure of a page’s SEO power potential. Higher-scoring websites are more likely to rank higher in search engines. Semrush provides you with site’s Authority Scores within the tool.
When you register your domain, be aware that it takes time to build up authority. On-page SEO, backlinks, and loading speed are all factors. You basically have to prove yourself to build up high your site’s authority score.
Your link profile, which is built through strong backlinks, is something you should be monitoring. You should check your site authority regularly. You can use services like our Backlink Audit Tool to run analytics. Using this tool, you’ll receive not only your website’s authority score but also an overall toxicity score ranging from 0 to 100, with 60 to 100 being the most toxic range.
You’ll want to eliminate spammy links or links from low-authority websites, which lower your authority. You can also pinpoint more high-authority real websites for added link building.
Computers are no longer the gatekeepers of the internet. The majority of all web traffic worldwide is now generated by mobile phones. Recognizing the importance of on-the-go web browsing, Google has explicitly stated that mobile-friendliness is a SERP factor.
You want to create a website that offers a user-friendly experience for both desktop and mobile users—aim for a responsive design, and nix text-blocking ads and pop-ups. Keep mobile design simple. Clutter will look messy on a small screen.
Also, pay attention to details like button size, which needs to be larger on small screens when people use their fingers instead of a tiny mouse pointer to click. Larger fonts are also easier to read on small screens.
12. Reliable Business Listings
Do you remember the reference to EAT in the discussion of high-quality content? Reliable business listings are one piece of the puzzle, especially when it comes to the “T” — trustworthiness. Business listings, also called citations, are especially important at the local level.
Establish a Google My Business page to demonstrate that your organization is real and legitimate. This is connected not only to Google Search but also Google Maps, making it easier for clients to find you online and in the real world.
You can further support your credibility by creating business profiles on industry-related online directories. Also, make sure that the business name and contact information are consistently listed across all of your online profiles.
Semrush Listing Management Tool can help you monitor your business listing every step of the way. You can ensure that all your information is correct, respond to reviews, and even track positions for specific keywords within target areas for your business.
13. Social Media Legitimacy
Getting active on social media is one great way to boost user engagement. Posting links to quality content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., gets you clicks and draws in users.
Google is paying increased attention to social media accounts in general. For example, buying followers for social media accounts can backfire. A social media account with 100,000 followers, but no interaction looks less legitimate than an account with 10,000 and a lot of active engagement. Google has even filed a patent for technology intended to determine whether social media accounts are real or fake.
Pro tip: To keep your social media profiles running on all cylinders, be sure to check out our Social Media Toolkit which allows you to manage and track your social profiles in one place.
14. Try the Google Snippets Shortcut
One sneaky way to get to the top of search results pages is via snippets. Snippets appear ahead of regular rankings, automatically placing you in the desirable “position zero” of the rankings page even if you aren’t technically “winning” the race.
We’ve included an example below. You can actively target Google snippets with question-inspired content.
So, think of a common question that people in your niche would ask. If you’re in SEO marketing, for instance, that question might be, “How do you improve your search positions on Google?” Your content should include that phrase as a subtitle and question — and should, of course, answer the question.
Checklist-style content does well in snippets, especially numbered lists. You can find out more about Google snippets here. If you need help finding questions that people are asking, you can use our Keyword Magic Tool to get an idea of a good question you can answer.
There’s a common thread running through all of the points above, whether they’re related to technical back-end elements or actual visible, front-end content. It’s all about user-friendliness. Many people assume that successful SEO is all about meeting the algorithms of a Google bot.
While it’s technically algorithms that are driving positions, it’s still people who craft those algorithms — and they’re crafting them with the end-user, an actual person, in mind.
From top to bottom, your website needs to prioritize the interests of your target audience. That means addressing tech issues, like loading times, while also crafting compelling content that delivers value to users — all users.
Creating a compliant website with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can earn you bonus points, for instance. That means including title tags, descriptive alt texts, and proper heading and subheading structure. This is common-sense SEO and also widens the audience you can reach.
Get to the Front Page of Google
The above tips can guide your path to a successful SEO strategy, particularly if you’re just getting started in content marketing and SEO. These tips can only take you so far, however.
A top Google search position takes time, energy, and great attention to detail. Whether you’re looking for support with keyword research or want to track your position, there are many elements to keep in mind. Just remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
How To Rank Higher Your Products on Amazon? Amazon SEO
When we usually think about SEO, we think about techniques that help our web pages rank on Google or similar search engines. But we know the world of SEO is much bigger than search engines. If you’re a business selling products on Amazon, chances are you’ve tried optimizing your product listings to rank higher.
You want customers to find your products easier; one way to ensure your products are seen is get them to “rank” higher for certain search queries.
In this guide, we’ll take a deeper look into how this optimization works. We’ll explore what Amazon SEO is, why it’s important, and how to get your products to rank higher in Amazon searches.
What Is Amazon SEO?
Amazon SEO is the process of getting your products to appear higher in Amazon’s search results. Like traditional SEO, Amazon SEO is all about optimizing your product listing for certain elements, like
Why Is Amazon SEO Important?
Optimizing your product listings can help your products rank higher in search results, so more potential customers can find your listing. More eyes on your listing can lead to an increase in sales.
Not doing Amazon SEO could mean that your products receive fewer views. According to a 2019 study by Feedvisor, 45% of Amazon consumers do not advance to the second page of search results. Optimizing your product listings can help you secure a coveted spot on the first page.
How Is Amazon SEO Different From SEO?
Traditional SEO and Amazon SEO do share similar principles. Both require some kind of optimization to rank higher. However, there are a few important differences.
Unlike Google, Amazon is an ecommerce site; its main goal is to drive sales. Google’s goal is to provide a good search experience so users come back.
Amazon ranks products so it can make as many sales as possible in a quick, efficient manner. To do this, it needs to work differently from Google and other search engines. Amazon uses different algorithms to the likes of Google.
What Is the Amazon A9 Algorithm?
The algorithm that Amazon uses to rank its products is known as the Amazon A9. It works with fewer ranking signals than Google’s RankBrain algorithm.
The A9 algorithm assesses product listings to provide the best results for a customer’s search. Amazon then ranks products based on how likely they are to lead to a purchase. It does this by assessing the relevancy and performance of your listings.
Amazon’s Relevancy Ranking Factors
The Amazon A9 algorithm considers how relevant your product listing is to the search. It reviews where and how your keywords are used, as well as how relevant your keyword is to the search query.
Amazon will consider your:
Product Title: Your product title is an important factor that the algorithm will assess for relevancy. Your listing’s title should include the most relevant keywords for your product.
Seller Name: Your seller name is another ranking factor that Amazon will use to assess your relevance to the search. If you have keywords that appear in your name you are more likely to rank.
Keywords: Although your keywords aren’t visible to customers, Amazon can see and use them to understand what your product is. Keywords tell Amazon what your product is and which search queries your listing should appear for.
Brand Name: The brand field is displayed just below the listing title and is visible to customers. Amazon uses this field to connect products to each other, so make sure you spell your brand name the same way on each listing.
Product Description: Amazon will read every letter of your product description to understand how relevant it is to the search. You should aim to include as much detail as possible and use the most relevant keywords.
Product Features: Similar to your description, product features help Amazon understand how useful it would be to include your product in a search. It’s important to include keywords and product features so Amazon knows your product is relevant.
You can see from these 6 ranking factors that keywords are a big part of displaying your relevancy. If your product listing doesn’t have the right keywords in the right places, it probably won’t appear in Amazon’s search results.
This is why keywords and optimization are so important in the world of Amazon SEO. But they aren’t the only factor that affects how you rank.
Performance-Related Amazon Ranking Factors
Remember: Amazon is an ecommerce platform with a goal to sell. Its algorithm wants to understand how likely your products are to sell. The aspects of your product listings that Amazon uses to make this judgment are known as performance ranking factors.
The Amazon A9 algorithm will consider your:
Click-Through Rate: Your product listing may get more clicks from one search query over another, based on buyer intent, color, size, or other product features. Amazon considers the click performance that your listing has earned for past queries.
Conversion Rate: Amazon is interested in how many listing clicks resulted in a sale, so they will factor in your conversion rate data. The higher your conversion rate the more likely Amazon is to show your product to its customers.
Product Price: Since the conversion rate is a ranking factor, your product’s price will come into play. A customer will not pay more for a product when they can get it cheaper from another seller. The price of your product will ultimately affect your conversion rate, so it is an important factor to Amazon.
Product Images: The quality of your product images is important to customers and will affect how likely they are to click on your product from the search results (affecting the click-through rate) and how likely they are to purchase (conversion rate). In response, Amazon reviews the quality and optimization of your images.
Product Reviews: Customers are more likely to trust a brand with positive reviews. The more reviews your product has, the more trustworthy you appear, and the more likely visitors to your listing make a purchase. Amazon’s algorithm factors in review count and rating when judging your performance.
Performance ranking factors drive Amazon’s goal of selling quickly and efficiently to as many people as possible. Being able to prove to Amazon that customers will buy your product when they see it is an important part of ranking.
How To Improve SEO on Amazon
Now you know what Amazon’s ranking factors are, you need to optimize for them. Making even a few changes to your product listings can generate some positive movement in your Amazon listing’s rank.
You can start optimizing them for Amazon’s ranking factors by:
Improving your relevancy
Choosing the right keywords
Improving your performance metrics
How to Improve Your Relevancy
Relevancy ranking factors are all about keywords, so improving your listing’s relevance should focus on using your keywords in the:
How To Optimize Amazon Product Titles
Your product titles are the first thing that a customer sees when they search for something, so they’re both an important ranking factor and crucial to your overall sales.
Your product titles should include relevant keywords, but be wary of keyword stuffing. Using too many keywords in your product title will make your title appear unnatural and spammy.
Instead, your product title should include the brand name, any specifics (like color, quantity, size, or model number), and the most relevant Amazon keyword.
Don’t include information that is not relevant. You have a limited amount of characters available for your product title, so keep it concise and easily readable.
Your Amazon product title sgiykd meet the following guidelines:
Must be 80-250 characters
Must use title Case
Must use words (avoid symbols)
Should use numbers
Does not use punctuation
How To Optimize Amazon Product Descriptions
Your product description needs to be as informative and detailed as possible. You should include relevant keywords and important information like features, dimensions, specifics, and brand names.
Write clearly in full sentences, and make sure your product description makes sense to both customers and the algorithm. Use subheadings where you can to make your copy easily scannable.
Add keywords into each subheading where relevant. Try to use your main keyword in the first sentence or paragraph of your copy.
Your Amazon product description also needs to meet the following guidelines:
2,000 character length
Highlights the key product features and specifications
Includes care instructions and warranty information as necessary
Is easily scannable
Doesn’t include any company contact information or links to your websites
Doesn’t use sale buzzwords like “free shipping” or “on sale now”
If you are struggling to write your description, check out our guide on creating ecommerce landing page copy for a few ideas. Amazon is an ecommerce platform, so the principles of ecommerce are useful when writing product descriptions.
Product descriptions on both Amazon and an ecommerce site should be readable, compelling, and rich with well-placed keywords.
However, that doesn’t mean you should just create exciting copy that makes bold claims. Your copy should be truthful.
Bold copy might help you sell, but it will affect the quality of your reviews. Reviews are another type of ranking factor, so you’ll be working against any SEO value gained from your copy.
How To Optimize Amazon Product Features
Your Amazon product features should be somewhat similar to your product description, but they should be easy to read. Product features appear as bullet points that many customers review first. They should tell your customer what your product is and how it will benefit them.
Include 5 bullet points with clear and concise sentences. Include your keyword where relevant to do so, but focus on providing an overview of your product.
Your Amazon product features section also needs to meet the following guidelines:
500 characters max
Should Use sentence case
Must feature 5 bullet points
Include 1 sentence per bullet point
Be specific with features like size, dimensions, color
Don’t use punctuation at the end of your bullet point
Don’t mention sales, promotional pricing, or shipping information
How To Optimize Amazon Backend Keywords
Your Amazon backend keywords are tags that tell Amazon what your product is. Customers can’t see them, but the A9 algorithm can, so it’s important that you fill all five fields in.
Optimize your product listing with Amazon backend keywords by selecting the five keywords you want to use for your listing. These keywords need to be both relevant to your product and varied enough to apply to different variations of your user’s search query.
Whatever keywords you use should also be included in other aspects of your listing, like its description and features.
Your Amazon backend keywords also need to meet the following guidelines:
50 character length per keyword
Avoid punctuation where possible, except commas
Be inclusive of misspellings and variations
Do not repeat the same keyword
Don’t include brand names or product names
How To Find The Right Keywords for Amazon Listings
Increasing your traffic and improving your Amazon SEO will involve choosing the right keywords. Finding good, relevant keywords starts with keyword research.
As with traditional SEO, Amazon SEO keyword research is all about choosing the right keyword for your Amazon product listings. You’ll still need to consider the same two metrics that we mentioned above:
Relevancy: you need to consider how relevant the keyword is. Choose a keyword that your customers are using to find products like yours.
Performance: you should also choose keywords based on their potential to perform. Consider the keyword’s search volume as well, or you run the risk of limiting the number of customers that you reach.
Of course, there are plenty of keyword research tools available to help you find the right keywords and their search volumes. There are also specific tools that can tell you what people are searching for on Amazon and how many people are searching for it.
These tools include:
Amazon Auto Fill
Amazon Automatic Campaigns
Keyword Research Using Amazon Auto Fill
Amazon’s auto fill feature a simple and free way to start your keyword research. Use the search bar on the Amazon home page to record the auto-fill suggestions that Amazon generates for your keywords.
Log out of your Amazon account
Open an incognito tab
Navigate to the Amazon homepage
Enter your seed keyword in the search bar but do not press search
Note all of the auto-filled suggestions that Amazon generates in the search bar
This method is so effective because autofill suggestions are things that Amazon customers are actually searching for. You’ll have a list of related phrases and words that can support your keyword strategy.
However, while using this method generates relevant keyword suggestions, it will not give you an indication of performance metrics like search volume.
Amazon Keyword Research Using Sellzone
Sellzone is a suite of tools to help you optimize and manage your Amazon listings. Its Traffic Insights tool allows you to assess your market and audience potential using existing listings.
Sellzone offers insights into your competitors’ keywords, which you can then use as keywords in your own listings.
This method will help you to identify a list of competitive keywords that have performance potential.
Keyword Research Using Amazon Automatic Campaigns
You can use Amazon’s Automatic Campaigns tool to review your existing product listings on Amazon and discover other potential search terms that your product already converts for. The tool also includes a keyword report, which can be useful in doing additional keyword research
To access this tool, you will need to navigate to your seller’s dashboard, then select Reports → Advertising Reports → Search Term Report.
How To Improve Your Performance Metrics
Performance metrics track how well your product sells, so improving the product listing’s performance should focus on helping customers make the decision to buy.
You can check your product’s conversion data by navigating to Business Reports or Reports → Seller Central’s Detail Sales Page and Traffic. Look for the metric Unit Session Percentage, which is essentially your conversion rate.
You could also use a tool like Sellery Smart Lists, which gives you metric data about your products, like Buy Box performance, competitions, sales data, and more.
If your conversion rate percentage is low, then you should consider optimizing elements of your product listing including:
How To Optimize Amazon Product Images
Your product images are one of the first things your customer sees from the search page, so they’re an important factor in the click-through rate. Images are also the best way a customer can get to know your product before they buy it, so they can directly influence conversion rate.
Focus on your image quality. Product images need to retain their quality when appearing small in search results, when clicked, or when the user zooms in. For most products, you should use multiple images.
The first image should be on a white background with any subsequent images showing your product from different angles, in its packaging, or in situations. These are known as lifestyle images.
Your Amazon product images also need to meet the following guidelines:
1000 px or larger on its longest side (ideally a square image)
Use an infographic
Don’t use a lot of text
How To Optimize Your Product Reviews
Your product reviews tell customers a lot about your product and you as a company. Although you can’t directly impact what they say, you do have some level of control over the types of reviews you get.
Be as honest and accurate as possible in your product description and images. Bad reviews usually come from customers who thought they had purchased one thing and were actually delivered something completely different.
Although misleading and inaccurate descriptions could drive more sales, it also leads to poor reviews and product returns.
You should also actively encourage customers to leave a review on your product listing. You can set up follow-up reminder emails in the Amazon interface so that a customer receives an invitation to leave you a review after a purchase.
If you do receive negative reviews, make sure you respond where possible and follow up with any actions that you can take. If it is a genuine problem with your product, address it as quickly as possible.
How To Optimize Your Product Price
The price of your product has a big impact on how likely user will click on your product from the search results and convert from your product page. If your price higher than other results on the search page, you will probably be overlooked.
Likewise, if your price is much lower, you may get lots of clicks but customers may assume flaws with your product to explain why you are much lower priced.
Carefully consider your costs against the prices of similar items offered by your competitors. Make sure you do price comparisons on Amazon; sellers sometimes list a product for a different price on Amazon than their own website.
There are tools that will help you price match quickly, like the Sellery Automatic Pricing Rule. This tool automates your pricing so that you match the price of a similar product, whether higher or lower.
Optimizing your product price doesn’t mean being the cheapest listing or dropping all of your prices. If you are priced higher than other products, a customer needs to understand why from the search results. You’ll need to provide a very clear reason in your product title and image.
Follow the tips in this guide and choose relevant keywords to optimize your product listing. You might notice some positive movement in your Amazon rankings, but that doesn’t mean that you can rest easy.
Just like traditional SEO, Amazon SEO is always changing so you will need to stay on top of your Amazon listings on Amazon. Keep optimizing and managing the elements of your listing that the Amazon A9 algorithm tracks.
Maintenance will help you appear in the right searches and ultimately drive more traffic.
Mobile searches for “do I need” have grown over 65%. For example, “how much do I need to retire,” “what size generator do I need,” and “how much paint do I need.”
Mobile searches for “should I” have grown over 65%. For example, “what laptop should I buy,” “should I buy a house,” “what SPF should I use,” and “what should I have for dinner.”
Mobile searches starting with “can I” have grown over 85%. For example, “can I use paypal on amazon,” “can I buy stamps at walmart,” and “can I buy a seat for my dog on an airplane.”
Mobile Search Trends Drive Content Relevance Trends
The above kinds of queries for both personal and conversational search are trending upwards and represent a meaningful change in what people are looking for. Content should adapt to that.
Each kind search query can be answered by a different kind of web page, with different content length, with different needs for diagrams, maps, depth, and so on.
One simply cannot generalize and say that Google prefers short-form content because that’s not always what mobile users prefer.
Thinking in terms of what most mobile users might prefer for a specific query is a great start.
But the next step involves thinking about the problem that specific search query is trying to solve and what the best solution for most users is going to be. Then crafting a content-based response that is appropriate for that situation.
And as you’ll read below, for some queries the most popular answer might vary according to time. +For some queries, a desktop optimal content might be appropriate.
2. Satisfy the Most Users
Identifying the problem users are trying to solve can lead to multiple answers.
If you look at the SERPs you will see there are different kinds of sites. Some might be review sites, some might be informational, some might be educational.
Those differences are indications that there multiple problems users are trying to solve. What’s helpful is that Google is highly likely to order the SERPs according to the most popular user intent, the answer that satisfies the most users.
So if you want to know which kind of answer to give on a page, take a look at the SERPs and let the SERPs guide you.
Sometimes this means that most users tend to be on mobile and short-form content works best.
Sometimes it’s fifty/fifty and most users prefer in-depth content or multiple product choices or fewer product choices.
Don’t be afraid of the mobile index. It’s not changing much.
It’s simply adding an additional layer, to understand which kind of content satisfies the typical user (mobile, laptop, desktop, combination) and the user intent.
It’s just an extra step to understanding who the most users are and from there asking how to satisfy them, that’s all.
3. Time Influences Observed User Intent
Every search query demands a specific kind of result because the user intent behind each query is different. Mobile adds an additional layer of intent to search queries.
“The proliferation of devices has changed the way people interact with the world around them. With more touchpoints than ever before, it’s critical that marketers have a full understanding of how people use devices so that they can be here and be useful for their customers in the moments that matter.”
Time plays a role in how the user intent changes.
The time of day that a query is made can influence what device that user is using, which in turn says something about that users needs in terms of speed, convenience, and information needs.
Google’s research from the above-cited document states this:
“Mobile leads in the morning, but computers become dominant around 8 a.m. when people might start their workday. Mobile takes the lead again in the late afternoon when people might be on the go, and continues to increase into the evening, spiking around primetime viewing hours.”
This is what I mean when I say that Google’s mobile index is introducing a new layer of what it means to be relevant. It’s not about your on-page keywords being relevant to what a user is typing.
A new consideration is about how your web page is relevant to someone at a certain time of day on a certain device and how you’re going to solve the most popular information need at that time of day.
This research focused on understanding what made content interesting and what caused users to keep clicking to another page.
In other words, it was about training a machine to understand what satisfies users. Here’s a synopsis:
In general, I find good results with content that can be appreciated by the widest variety of people.
This isn’t strictly a mobile-first consideration but it is increasingly important in an Internet where so people of diverse backgrounds are accessing a site with multiple intents multiple kinds of devices.
Achieving universal popularity becomes increasingly difficult so it may be advantageous to appeal to the broadest array of people in a mobile-first index.
7. Google’s Algo Intent Hasn’t Changed
Looked at a certain way, it could be said that Google’s desire to show users what they want to see has remained consistent.
What has changed is the users’ age, what they desire, when they desire it and what device they desire it on. So the intent of Google’s algorithm likely remains the same.
The mobile-first index can be seen as a logical response to how users have changed. It’s backwards to think of it as Google forcing web publishers to adapt to Google.
What’s really happening is that web publishers must adapt to how their users have changed.
Ultimately that is the best way to think of the mobile-first index. Not as a response to what Google wants but to approach the problem as a response to the evolving needs of the user.
This was the mantra of my journalism professor and mentor who spent a career in newsroom trenches before deciding to “retire” and teach journalism at the small, liberal arts college where I received my degree.
Almost 30 years later (man, I’m old), this simple three-word sentence still rings true.
The phrase is specifically germane to my current profession of search engine marketing.
Tips to Add Keywords in Your Content
Keywords Are Still King
In the past, I’ve written advice that steers search engine marketing professionals to embrace optimizing for topics over keywords.
I still believe that for many of us, this is sage advice.
Today’s search engines look for the meaning of the page beyond the simple keywords and keyword phrases.
But the simple fact is that in most cases if you don’t have a specific word on a web page, you probably won’t rank for that word in the search engine’s results.
Don’t Get Stuffed
It’s a given that you need to use the keywords you want to show up for in the copy you write.
But if you use too many keywords, or use them in the wrong place, you run the risk of sounding strange and non-authoritative to your audience.
Worse, your copy could look like it’s stuffed with keywords to both your users and the search engines.
Search engines don’t like keyword-stuffed copy.
Users don’t buy from sites that stuff keywords into their copy.
So the question becomes, how do I include the keywords I need but still write copy that makes sense to users and works for search engines?
Don’t Target Too Much
There is no magic number of keywords that can be targeted on a single page.
The variables in keyword competition, as well as the variables of the content itself, doesn’t lend itself to a one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to the number of keyword phrases that a single page should target.
But the fewer keywords a page targets, the easier it is to create a compelling copy on a page.
When I am writing copy, I will keep a post-it note with the keywords I want to target for a particular page and topic.
Every time I use a keyword, I make a mark by it on the post-it note.
But if I don’t get all the keywords in when I’ve written the copy, I don’t worry too much about it.
If possible, I create another page to target the keywords that are leftover.
Sometimes, when we are grouping keywords for pages, which is usually done before the copy is written, it’s hard to know exactly how well the grouped keywords will flow in the copy.
You should never force a keyword into a page where it doesn’t belong.
As a general rule, I like to target 2-5 keywords per page of written content.
Of course, that’s a general rule.
I will vary on the number of keyword phrases target based on a number of variables – including the content length, the competitiveness of the keywords, and most importantly the flow of the copy.
A Page’s Content Is Not Just the Copy
It’s easy for even the most veteran SEO to forget that not all keywords need to reside in a page’s actual copy.
In many cases, it’s possible to create keyword-rich navigation that not only increases the keyword density of a page but also helps solidify a solid, anchor-text-rich internal linking structure.
SEOs have abused footer copy for years, using it stuff keywords and provide links to useless pages with no other purpose than attempting to fool a search engine robot into ranking an irrelevant page.
However, if one puts effort into creating a useful, keyword-rich footer for a page, the dividends can be enormous.
Properly labeling images while also using keywords is another way to increase your use of keywords – one that many otherwise savvy SEOs either forget or ignore, thinking that results may not be worth the effort.
It’s true the labeling your images may not result in a huge increase in rankings, but it’s the right thing to do from a compliance standpoint, and it does help.
Graphical Breaks & Summaries
The best way I know of to include keywords in copy when I’m out of ideas is to create a bulleted list.
Keywords fit naturally into bulleted lists.
And bulleted lists aren’t just great places for keywords.
Bulleted lists allow you to create a graphical break in copy that makes it easier to read for most users.
Bulleted lists can even be recaps of what you just said in the last piece of copy you wrote.
These lists don’t have to add new information, they can recap what has already been said.
Of course, you can use them to add new information as well.
But lists aren’t the only recaps that are great for getting more keywords into your copy.
An executive summary or TLDR (Too long, didn’t read) pre-amble to a piece of copy is a great place to place your most important keywords toward the top of a page.
Getting keywords into your copy doesn’t have to be difficult.
Getting creative with your writing, as well as with your layout, can yield great results.
When in doubt, read your copy out loud or have someone else read it.
If it sounds like you have too many instances of keywords, you probably do.
Remember, the number of times you repeat a keyword isn’t an important factor.
The important factor is that the times you do include the keyword, it makes sense to both the user and the search engine.
A simple premise that requires an inordinate amount of creativity, hard work, and analytical thinking.
Here are our steps. This isn’t the bible, so these aren’t the only correct way to build quality links, but this process has worked for us.
Step 1: Link Analysis
The first step is to look at your links and your competitors’ links. Who is linking to people in the industry?
We use Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs and a few other tools to help with this analysis.
Be on the lookout for informational sites, sites where content is being created about your industry. These aren’t always that easy to find, so spend some significant time on the analysis.
Look for patterns. Sort the links by authority and go down the list.
Don’t just look at the URL, go look at each site.
It isn’t always possible to look at every site – but it is always possible to find the best ones by starting with the best authority sites and going down from there.
You don’t need hundreds of sites. The idea is to build up a list over time.
Step 2: Leverage Existing Relationships
This should be low-hanging fruit, but it always seems to take more effort than we expect.
It’s amazing to me that clients never seem to want to ask their trusted partners, vendors, customers, and the charities they work with.
Work to gather a list of your existing relationships and create a communication to ask for links. If you have a marketing automation system, use it to communicate.
Ask the people who deal with your partners to ask for a link. This works – and the links are surprisingly relevant.
If you have a relationship with someone who has a website, it’s almost always OK to ask them for a link.
One thing to note here – frequently when you ask for a link, you might be asked to reciprocate. In some cases, this is OK, but try to avoid it if at all possible. This is where link evaluation comes in.
Step 3: Narrow Down the Target List
This may seem counterintuitive to those who want plenty of links. But as I said earlier, we aren’t after a bunch of links – just good ones.
We narrow down our targets to between 10-15 links we want to get.
As a link opportunity is obtained or is no longer relevant (they said no, they didn’t respond to anything, they aren’t relevant anymore, etc..) it goes off of the target list and new opportunity is added.
Unless you have a lot of resources, it usually isn’t productive to target more than 10-15 sites for links at a time. It takes time to build relationships with the influencers and webmasters to get the links.
On average, it’s taking us about two months to get a link in most cases.
The way we narrow down the list is more of an art than a science. We take into account a site’s authority, but we look more for a fit.
Based on the site’s content, would they link to us?
Do we have the content they would want to link to?
Or could we get them to write content for our site?
We also have a process that we use to evaluate links that includes both qualitative and quantitative ranking methods.
Step 4: Build Relationships
Now that you have your list, it’s time to develop your outreach strategy.
Cold pitching rarely works.
Just sending an influencer and e-mail asking for a link is a poor outreach strategy. I get several link requests per day and so does every site owner on the planet.
You can’t break through that clutter – and since most of them are spammy, regardless of how well you pitch, your chances for success are slim especially since we are only targeting a few links at a time.
The best thing we’ve found is to interact with the individuals on social media.
Twitter works really well for this – but some influencers aren’t active there, so you may need to find where they are.
If they allow comments on their content, comment – but don’t pitch or link to your site for your comment. In the beginning that’s almost always counterproductive to relationship building.
Don’t just talk about your site.
You should know the industry. Ask the influencer their opinion on current issues the industry is facing. Send them articles you find about the industry.
Help them. Engage with them. Build a real relationship.
If possible, meet the influencer face-to-face. Buying a beer for an influencer is usually good for a link.
The main no-no is to come out of the gate asking for a link. You’ll fail more times than not, and you’ll also lose the trust of a possible great linking partner.
Step 5: Get Creative
So now we have our list, we’re building relationships, and we’ve worked to get our vendors and partners on board with linking with the site.
Now it’s time to fire up the right side of your brain and get creative.
This is the fun part, but it takes a lot of work.
This is where you take a hard look at yourself and ask, “what can we do to make people really want to link to us?”
Possible items to create include:
Funny and serious insights.
Try something out of the box. You or your client’s risk aversion may get in the way of the creativity, but work to push the limits.
No one links to dull or irrelevant content. No one wants to link to brochureware of sales material.
You need to find your hook. Sometimes you need a different hook for every influencer on your list.
Yes, this takes a lot of time. Yes, this is hard work.
But the ability to create something that the right people want to link to is what separates a good SEO from a great SEO.
Step 6: Rinse and Repeat
Link building never ends.
You can always find more high-quality links.
You need to keep looking for opportunities to create linkable content and find the right people who will link to it.
It is a good idea to work on specific “campaigns” in order to continually refresh your strategy.
But you can’t stop building links. If you do, you will eventually get passed by your competitors.
Link evaluation is about setting priorities for links you want to pursue rather than ranking them. Here’s how to properly evaluate the quality of a link in relation to your site.
I have to admit something.
I used to buy links.
I used to buy a lot of links.
In my career, I’d estimate I’ve purchased around $3 million in links.
But I haven’t bought a single link in five years. Well, let’s just say I haven’t directly bought a link in five years.
Buying links today is super risky – no matter what the seller may say.
Yes, there are ways to still effectively buy links, but the bottom line is that if you get caught, and you have any type of brand at all, the risk outweighs the benefit.
It’s up to you if you want to purchase links, but my recommendation is to stay clean.
Building links takes more work and more time to achieve results, but the results are solid and will last.
One benefit of buying so many links over the years is that I have learned how to evaluate what a link is worth.
In the next few sections, I’m going to show you how we evaluate links and give our reasoning behind the scoring.
First, it is important to understand that specific links are valued differently by every site.
A link that is valuable to a plumber is not necessarily valuable to a Payday loan company, and vice-versa. That’s actually one of the downfalls of buying links – besides the whole penalty thing.
Typically, when you buy links, you are forced to buy something that isn’t as relevant to your site as you would like – to use the cliche, a square peg in a round hole.
That’s why link building must be custom for every site. No, this approach isn’t scalable in the traditional sense, but it drives the needle in SEO results.
Bottom line:Links that provide value beyond SEO are the most valuable links to obtain.
It has been said that SEO is both an art and a science. This is very true when it comes to evaluating links.
To properly evaluate the quality of a link in relation to your site, you have to make some educated guesses.
Therefore, link evaluation is more about setting priorities for the links you want to pursue rather than ranking them or creating an equivalent ad value or monetary equivalent.
This process is designed to help you know where to focus next.
The Link Evaluation Process: Getting Started
The Perception score is the qualitative data in our formula. It’s data that comes from a human, not a toolset.
Take your list of sites and influencers and evaluate them based on how relevant they are to your current outreach. We use a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the perfect link and 1 being not relevant at all.
For example, if you are running a site selling online training to insurance sales professionals, a link from a site that outlines the latest insurance training techniques would score very high – taking into consideration whether the site is a competitor.
On the other hand, a site that focuses on fly fishing might contain some of your audience, but a link there will not be as relevant. Notice I didn’t say valuable.
The fly fishing site may be of value – but it’s not as relevant as the insurance site.
Relevance is part of the formula, but not the whole. And relevancy does not always equal value.
We want to assign how difficult we anticipate it will be to obtain a link on a site. As you build links, your experience will help guide you on this metric – and it’s never perfect.
In fact, I recommend you change this metric on your list as you learn more about the site. This is an ongoing evaluation – not a one-time score.
For this metric, we use a scale of 1-50, with 50 being a link that extremely easy to obtain (think a link you can place yourself) and a publication like The Wall Street Journal being at the bottom end of the scale.
Some items to consider when scoring the difficulty of a site include:
How often the site publishes.
The number of visitors a site receives each month (be careful here though, some sites receive lots of traffic to certain sections and no traffic to others).
Relationships with your competitors.
The use of nofollow links on the site.
The propensity of the influencers that write for the site to engage with their audience.
This metric is hard to get right – in fact, you’ll probably never nail it right on the head. But getting in the ballpark is usually all you need to do.
The Relevancy Score and Difficulty score combine to create the qualitative portion of our evaluation. We call this the perception score.
If you are concerned that your perception score is either biased or otherwise incorrect, you can utilize intercoder reliability.
Intercoder reliability is a fancy way of saying use three people to do the evaluation.
By taking three scores and averaging them, you are more likely to come up with a number that is in the ballpark of accurate.
Hard Number Score
Back in the day, sites were priced almost exclusively on their PageRank – a number we all saw in a little green bar that Google provided to us in their toolbar. This was highly inaccurate data and really didn’t tell us much, but that’s how the marketplace worked.
PageRank was a “hard number” that was the agreed upon metric for link evaluation. With the proliferation of tools like Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, and others, we actually have more hard numbers than we did back then.
We use Moz’s metrics, specifically the metrics in Moz’s Open Site Explorer, for our evaluations.
Note: some of these metrics require a subscription to Moz, which I highly recommend to anyone in SEO. You can get similar data from the other tools, so use that you prefer.
But to get the right data, you’re probably going to need to sign up for a subscription. You get what you pay for.
The first metric in the hard score that we look at is Domain Authority (DA). This can be a misleading metric for several sites, especially if the site has sections that are more popular than others.
If there are specific sections of a site where you envision your links appearing, you will need to look at the Page Authority (PA) of the pages in the section – but for most sites, DA, while an imperfect metric, is fine.
If you do need to use PA, it may mess up the formula a bit – but usually not enough to matter. Just make sure to pay close attention to any site where you are using PA instead of DA.
Next, we look at the established links metrics. Basically, we are looking to see how many links a site has.
The number of root domains is typically the most valuable metric when evaluating a link.
I typically only use the Total Links metric as a tiebreaker.
Identifying Spam Sites
Look closely at the difference between the Root Domains and the Total Links. A large differential can indicate that the site may have some SEO issues.
Looking at this differential alongside Moz’s Spam Analysis can help you avoid targeting links that may harm your site.
Every client’s risk tolerance is different, so there isn’t a magic number that tells you if a site is spammy – but if you suspect it might be spam, probably best to avoid it.
Weighing the Metrics
Now it’s time to put all of our data together and create evaluation scores. To do this, we need to weight each metric in order to come up with our final score.
There is no “wrong” way to weigh these metrics, as long as the end score helps you to prioritize which links to spend resources obtaining first.
First, you need to take the sites and compare the Root Domains, ranking them highest to lowest according to the Root Domains metric.
Then divide the sites into groups of 10. If you are evaluating less than 10 sites, each site will be its own group.
Label the groups from 1-10, with 10 being the sites with the highest number of links and 1 being the group with the lowest number of links.
If you have less than 10 total sites, label your highest site as a 10 and then count down from there. We call this the Root Domain Metric.
Next, take the Domain Authority of each site and add the domain authority number and the root domain metric together and then divide by 2. The reason we divide by 2 is that we feel that these metrics are half as indicative of the value of a site vs. the qualitative metrics. This number is called the “hard number score”.
Now we move on to the qualitative, or as we call it, the Perception Number score. This is simple to do. Just add the Relevancy score and the Difficulty score.
The thinking behind this is that Relevancy is twice as important as difficulty in link evaluation, hence the reason we measure relevance with a scale of 1-100 and difficulty with a scale of 1-50. But also, the easier a link is to obtain, the better – hence the reason we rank easy sites at the higher end of the difficulty scale.
In the end, you’ll add the perception score and the hard number score to get an overall link evaluation score. The higher scoring sites should be the ones first on your list.
As digital marketing undergoes a rapid transformation, link building remains extremely important. Yet, it feels like the one practice that remains stuck in the mud of the ‘old ways.’
A number of useful third-party tools and software can help you better understand the SEO value of backlinks, as well as layer additional information such as organic search traffic, keyword rankings, and traffic value.
Yet I’ve found that relying solely on one tool or misusing them can lead to poor SEO results and ineffective link building.
So, what is the proper use of these tools and how do we determine authority?
Furthermore, what link building strategies should you still leverage and how can we use these tools to improve our campaigns?
Leveraging Software to Analyze High-Quality Link
We tend to rely heavily on third-party tools to determine link quality, as Google shrouds its algorithms in secrecy.
Software allows us to decipher whether earning a link from any particular site is worth the effort, while also providing important information about how Google evaluates the quality of links pointing to our site.
There are many options when it comes to analyzing links, but some of the most popular include:
Before they start building links, many SEO pros tend to qualify (or disqualify) a potential link partner based on Moz’s popular Domain Authority (DA) tool. DA offers an aggregate of different onsite and offsite SEO data to evaluate the trust of a domain using a 1-100 scale.
It’s important to keep in mind that DA is only a barometer of how well a domain stacks up to others. While convenient for reporting and evaluating progress, DA should not be followed blindly.
Moreover, it’s become increasingly popular for businesses to ask link building agencies specifically for links based on DA only (i.e., we’ll take 5 links of DA 50 or higher) – this approach can be potentially futile.
To demonstrate the risk of using only DA to judge prospective link partners, I’d like to share one example of a travel website that my agency encountered recently while conducting research for client link building.
My link building team encountered the website after researching potential link partners in the travel sector.
According to Moz, the DA of the prospective link partner is 50. Most experienced link builders would consider this an authoritative and attractive link to acquire. In some cases, a DA this high would be enough to devise a strategy to earn the link.
But not so quick.
Using SEMrush to look closer at this potential link partner we set out to ask:
Does this site receive a minimum standard of organic traffic (i.e., 1,000 monthly unique visitors)?
What about a minimum standard around traffic value (i.e., $1,000 in traffic value)?
Note that having organic search traffic suggests that earning a link from the site will likely have benefits outside of simply earning a link.
Organic traffic is also a direct indicator whether Google sees the site as authoritative and rewards it with keyword rankings that lead to qualified traffic generation.
With a DA of 50, one would expect the website to have considerable organic search traffic. However, SEMrush suggests that is not the case as the site, at best, received only a few hundred visitors per month.
Looking even deeper, you see that the “Traffic Cost” (defined by SEMrush as the estimated amount the site would need to pay to receive the traffic if it was paid search) is $11.
This quick analysis highlights that DA alone is not a good enough metric to judge a potential link partner. In this case, the site in question appears to be of low quality and is unlikely to pass much authority to your website (or to our client’s website).
To be fair, the site has considerable links pointing to it (2,200 referring domains) and at one point the site did have more traffic, but the site has not seen substantial organic traffic numbers in nearly five years. That’s why it’s vital to look beyond just DA when looking at the prospect of a link partner.
This is not an isolated example either.
When conducting searches for broken links, resource links, guest posting opportunities, and other strategies, we have encountered hundreds of poor sites that Moz, Ahrefs, and Majestic labeled as authoritative.
There are other considerations when using third-party tools like Moz, SEMrush, and others.
Many of these third-party tools don’t offer much of the same data for each KPI. Only SEMrush and Majestic gave us the same total number of fresh backlinks to the domain. This is because the tools refresh data infrequently and rely on incomplete data sets.
Therein lies the problem with most link building strategies today.
If we purely followed the DA of this site or Majestic’s Trust Flow, got a link, and reported it to a client, would it be of any value? Would algorithms as advanced as Google’s even count this link as equity to your site?
While these metrics serve as a good barometer for how your domain compares to others, don’t follow them blindly for link building reports or even identifying placements.
Moreover, you shouldn’t rely on any single software. Instead, use multiple ones in tandem to provide more accurate assumptions as to link authority.
This is not to speak negatively of these tools. They are important to link building and should be used together to identify high-quality placements.
Evaluating High-Quality Link Authority
This leaves us with interesting questions:
What exactly makes a high-quality link?
Does a branded (but nofollowed) link from a Search Engine Journal contribution reduce its importance?
The answer does not need to be complicated. In fact, a high-quality link should be one that comes from a high-quality site.
Obviously, quality is subjective, but here are some of my thoughts on what I believe makes a site qualitative:
Contains consistent readership or traffic flow.
Houses editorial staff that reviews content before publishing.
Ranks for valuable, relevant keywords in its industry niche.
Offers value to visitors, either through service or thought leadership.
Considered an authority in your industry.
Relevant to your niche.
I’m sure most of us would agree that a young website with consistent readership and thought leadership would be considered a great link placement opportunity. Not only would you acquire additional traffic flow, but also more exposure for your brand.
Yet, young domains don’t start off with an established DA or Trust Flow, so would you really go out and grab it for a client?
I understand that most agencies have an established DA minimum of x>25 for all link placements to prevent spam. But does this also blind us from good link building opportunities?
For instance, I personally believe that a geographically relevant link with a sub DA of 25 may send a stronger ranking signal to Google than a DA 50+ that isn’t geographically relevant.
Blindly following these third-party metrics distorts our mission of actually pursuing good marketing strategies, like influencer marketing, developing link-worthy onsite content, or building links on high-quality sites that only offer nofollow attributes.
Sure, placing a link on a DA of 88 makes your agency look like it’s top notch. But how much is it serving the client if that link is:
Irrelevant to their niche.
Offering little to no value to their industry.
The number of unique referring domains to a site is crucial to link building success. Even if you acquired more links from the same domain it would be beneficial if it was of high quality. But I see clients get burnt a lot because agencies simply follow the wrong strategies.
Why? They keep relying on the wrong metrics.
The Proper Uses of Proprietary Metrics
Before we get too far off track, you’re probably wondering what the proper uses of DA and Trust Flow should be. Honestly, whatever tools you use is up to you and there are many, but I stress using multiple tools for identifying placements and tracking progress.
A metric like DA is great for insight and maybe even the initial audit of a site, but it should not be used exclusively to identify placements. More importantly, it should not be used to track campaign progress month-to-month.
A tool like Ahrefs is good for tracking ongoing link placements and velocity, since it’s the most dynamic. It’s even great for identifying placements. But used solely, you’ll more likely get greater KPIs from a link farm than a legitimate domain.
Use multiple tools to provide a gather a more comprehensive view of a target domain. In terms of reporting, you could rely on a number of KPIs, such as Trust Flow and DA to provide a more dynamic report. Just relay the fact that links take a while to actually pass equity to your site and that these tools all use different databases to come up with their proprietary metrics.
Highlight the barebones of the campaign from the number of new unique referring domains to any additional traffic flow or conversions that could be attributed to your work.
How much has brand reach increased and how are you working to drive eyeballs to their content?
While it’s hard to relay the importance of links in reporting, it’s up to agencies to create a narrative that does highlight the value that a new link has provided.
High-Quality Link Building Strategies
With this said, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some high-authority link building strategies that do add value to your website.
The best way to conduct a link building campaign is to go about it organically. Going out and snagging a guest post for your client is beneficial to your campaign, but it can also be expensive and labor intensive.
A more cost-effective and efficient strategy would be to craft quality content that other websites and publications want to link to. Instead of manual outreach with guest submissions to external domains, why not reach out to other websites to link to already existing content?
Here are some examples of link-worthy content:
White papers with original research
Interviews with celebrities, influencers, or industry thought leaders
Q&A roundups with thought leaders in your industry
Industry benchmarks, trends, and data
One of my favorite examples of organic link building is HubSpot’s blog. Every year they publish marketing statistics and infographics of the latest trends in SEO and social media that I often reference in my pieces.
In fact, it’s one of the first places I look when I seek out a statistic that can help prove my point. Whether they publish these to acquire links is unknown, but it certainly works.
You need to get content discovered before it can be linked back to. This involves a number of promotional strategies, such as sharing over social media, posting in forums, and direct outreach to other industry bloggers.
Leverage link bait content on your site to build relationships and become a resource where other thought leaders and bloggers will turn for information.
If you’re looking to drive more eyeballs to your onsite content, influencer marketing is a great way to reach a larger audience that aligns with your own.
In terms of traditional link building, links from influencer blogs may seem like low authority, but they have more benefits then just a link. For one, influencers often share content over a variety of channels. Beyond this, you can set up relationships with influencers to directly promote your brand for you.
Influencer audiences are:
Whether it’s direct or indirect promotion, influencer marketing is one of my favorite strategies to increase brand exposure for a client.
This effectively drives more traffic to their website, nurtures conversions, and serves as a mention – which we believe factors into Google’s algorithm – that can also come with a juicy hyperlink.
Using a variety of tools, my team has used influencer marketing to offer a new approach to link building. By setting up relationships with influencers, we can leverage a largely untapped market to promote our brand and our clients’ to people active in that niche.
While this strategy is traditional, I still believe that guest posting and contributor accounts are important to your underlying link building strategy. Not only does this offer link building opportunities for you and clients, it’s also a way to craft thought leadership and authority for the author and brand.
With greater authority, people are more likely to look toward your content in the future for reference and understanding of a topic.
Focus on Branding
This leads me to my last link building strategy. Your link building campaign shouldn’t be solely focused on improving keyword ranking. While important, link building should also seek to advance you or your clients’ brand.
This includes everything from getting brand mentions across the internet via contextual citations, direct influencer marketing, or crafting an authoritative guest post.
Brand building increases exposure to your brand and provides social proof for your content. This, in turn, has the potential to get you more followers over social channels and direct traffic through bookmarks and direct brand recall.
If the goal of link building is to provide better opportunities for webpages to rank in a keyword search, then increasing direct traffic is maybe just as important as acquiring more backlinks. Although, their strategies are one in the same.
Use proprietary tools to seek out authoritative domains with large readership and thought leadership to build relationships with, publish content on, and give your brand some much needed visibility.
Even if Google’s algorithms are dynamic, backlinks still serve an important function in ranking.
Backlinks are still vital to increasing keyword rank, but acquiring five or 10 links a month from irrelevant or low quality sites will only significantly impact rankings when all other factors remain equal.
SEO is competitive, which is why a poor link building campaign won’t increase your DA when other websites are outperforming yours.
For those of us with clients in a competitive niche, the strategies I outlined earlier are a great way to acquire high volume backlinks, while also advancing your brand. They are also more cost-effective.
DA and Trust Flow are great barometers to measure comparative success, but not necessarily campaign progress. When we follow one metric blindly, SEO ceases to be an organic and creative process, but rather a mechanical operation where paid links are the norm and good marketing strategies fall by the wayside.
Why 3 Major Factors of SEO: Authority, Relevance, and Trust are Important?
Search engines use content and links to assess the authority, relevance, and trust of websites. Here’s what you need to do to earn that authority, relevance, and trust for SEO success.
For just a moment, remember a time before the Internet and search engines.
What did we do if we needed information?
In most cases, we began our own quest for a source to supply the needed information.
Let’s say you wanted to know the difference between Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity.
You could ask your next-door neighbor, but you probably wouldn’t – unless you happened to know that your neighbor was a physicist, a science teacher, or was at least well-read on the topic.
If you had access to a nearby university, you might seek out a physics professor to get your question answered.
Alternatively, you could go to a library and ask the librarian to recommend the best book on relativity.
In each of those cases, you’re making a decision about authority.
You know the closer the connection of your information source to deep knowledge about physics, the more likely you are to get a good answer.
In other words: You want the most authoritative answer, which will come from the most authoritative source.
Of course, we need more than information. Sometimes we need stuff!
Say you’re looking for a new dishwasher. Before the web, you might have picked up a copy of Consumer Reports. Or you might have asked friends or neighbors if they were happy with a particular brand. Unlike the physics example, in this case people you know might actually be good authoritative sources.
As soon as it was apparent that the World Wide Web was going to become the major repository for human knowledge – not to mention the primary source for products, services, entertainment, and much else – the need for search engines was obvious.
Search engines help connect us with authoritative sources for our questions and needs, whether that’s a physics professor’s blog or dishwasher reviews by real users.
There were a few early attempts to do human indexing and categorization of webpages, but it didn’t take long to realize that effort would never keep up with the growth of the web.
Modern search engines use complex algorithms to find, read, and ascertain the topicality of webpages. They can then match those pages with search queries looking for the information they contain.
In other words, search engines are trying to find the most authoritative (and relevant) sources to match the query.
For any given query, there are typically a great many pages that potentially satisfy that query.
Users expect the search engine to take the role of the knowledgeable librarian and direct them to the best pages for the query.
That’s a judgment, then, of the relative authority for the topic of the query of all the possible pages, so search engines must be able to assess that relevance and authority at a huge scale.
How Search Engines Evaluate Authority
In reality, modern search engines such as Google use hundreds of factors (or signals) when evaluating the authority and relevance of webpages, but we can boil them down to two main categories:
Links (external citation authority).
First, a search engine must read and analyze the actual content and other features on a page.
From this, the engine associates relevant topics with the page.
In the early days, on-page assessment pretty much ended there, but now search engines are much more sophisticated in being able to analyze a page’s language, structure and other features to determine things like how completely the page addresses a topic and how useful it might be to a visitor.
Once the search engine understands the page and adds it to its index, it turns next to external signals that help validate and gauge the level of authority of the page for any given topic.
Ever since the invention of PageRank by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, links have been the primary signal used for such assessment.
Search engines use links much like we might treat scholarly citations. The more scholarly papers relevant to a source document that cite it, the better.
The relative authority and trustworthiness of each of the citing source comes into play as well.
In the next two sections, we will go into more depth about how search engines use content and links to assess authority, as well as what you need to do to gain such authority for your own site.
The essential insight behind this paper was that the web is built on the notion of documents inter-connected with each other via links.
Since putting a link on your site to a third-party site might cause a user to leave your site, there was little incentive for a publisher to link to another site, unless it was really good and of great value to their site’s users.
In other words, linking to a third-party site acts a bit like a “vote” for it, and each vote could be considered an endorsement, endorsing the page the link points as one of the best resources on the web for a given topic.
Then, in principle, the more votes you get, the better and the more authoritative a search engine would consider you to be, and you should therefore rank higher.
A significant piece of the initial Google algorithm was based on the concept of PageRank, a system for evaluating which pages are the most important based on scoring the links they receive.
So a page that has large quantities of valuable links pointing to it will have a higher PageRank, and in principle will be likely to rank higher in the search results than other pages without as high a PageRank score.
When a page links to another page, it passes a portion of its PageRank to the page it links to. Thus, pages accumulate more PageRank based on the number and quality of links they receive.
Let’s use our intuition for a moment.
Imagine you have a page that’s selling a book, and it gets two links. One is from Joe’s Book Store, and the other one is from Amazon. It’s pretty obvious which one you would value more as a user, right? As users, we recognize that Amazon has more authority on this topic.
As it turns out, the web has recognized this as well, and Amazon has a much more powerful link profile (and higher PageRank) than any other site involved in selling books.
As a result, it has much higher PageRank, and can pass more PageRank to the pages that it links to.
It’s important to note that Google’s algorithms have evolved a long way from the original PageRank thesis.
The way that links are evaluated has changed in significant ways – some of which we know, and some of which we don’t.
We’ll discuss the role of relevance in the next section.
The Role of Relevance
You have to be relevant to a given topic.
If you have a page about Tupperware, it doesn’t matter how many links you get – you’ll never rank for queries related to used cars.
This defines a limitation on the power of links as a ranking factor, and it shows how relevance also impacts the value of a link.
Consider a page on a site that is selling a used Ford Mustang. Imagine that it gets a link from Car and Driver magazine. That link is highly relevant.
Also, think of this intuitively. Is it likely that Car and Driver magazine has some expertise related to Ford Mustangs? Of course, they do.
In contrast, imagine a link to that Ford Mustang from a site that usually writes about sports. Is the link still helpful? Probably, but not as helpful, because there is less evidence to Google that the sports site has a lot of knowledge about used Ford Mustangs.
In short, the relevance of the linking page, and the linking site, impacts how valuable a link might be considered.
Google Doesn’t Publish PageRank, So What can We Do?
Google used to make a version of PageRank visible to users of the Google Toolbar, but they no longer do that. Instead, many SEO professionals use third-party metrics, such as:
Domain Authority and Page Authority from Moz.
Citation Flow and Trust Flow from Majestic.
Domain Rank and URL Rank from Ahrefs.
Each of these metrics does a good job of helping you evaluate the merits of a page and offering a working estimate for how much PageRank it has to pass.
Still, you should understand that these are only back-engineered estimates of how authoritative Google sees the domain or page, and not actual representations of PageRank.
It’s also important to be aware that none of these tools provide a complete picture of all links on the web.
Unlike Google, these tools do not have the infrastructure required to crawl the entire web, so they instead focus on discovering a significant sample of the links to a given site or page.
The Role of Anchor Text
Anchor text is another aspect of links that matters to Google.
The anchor text helps Google confirm what the content on the page receiving the link is about.
For example, if the anchor text is the phrase “iron bathtubs” and the page has content on that topic, the anchor text plus the link acts as further confirmation that the page is about that topic. Thus the links act to evaluate both the relevance and authority of the page.
Be careful, though, as you don’t want to go aggressively obtaining links to your page that all use your main key phrase as the anchor text.
Google also looks for signs that you are manually manipulating links for SEO purposes. One of the simplest indicators is if your anchor text looks manually manipulated.
The Concept of Trust
You may hear many people talk about the role of trust in search rankings and in evaluating link quality.
For the record, Google says they don’t have a concept of trust they apply to links (or ranking), so you should take those discussions with many grains of salt.
These discussions began because of a Yahoo patent on the concept of TrustRank.
The idea was that if you started with a seed set of hand-picked, highly trusted sites, and you then counted the number of clicks it took you to go from those sites to yours, the fewer clicks the more trusted your site was.
Google has long said they don’t use this type of metric.
However, in April 2018, Google was granted a patent related to evaluating the trustworthiness of links. But the existence of a granted patent does not mean it’s used in practice.
For your own purposes, however, if you want to assess the trustworthiness of a site as a source of a link, using the trusted links concept is not a bad idea.
If they do any of the following, then it probably isn’t a good source for a link:
Sell links to others.
Have less than great content.
Otherwise don’t appear reputable.
Google may not be calculating trust the way you do in your analysis, but chances are good that some other aspect of their system will devalue that link anyway.
Fundamentals of Earning & Attracting Links
Now that you know that obtaining links to your site is critical to SEO success, it’s time to start putting together a plan to get some.
The key to success is understanding that Google wants this entire process to be holistic.
Google actively discourages, and in some cases punishes, schemes to get links in an artificial way. This means certain practices are seen as bad, such as:
Buying links for SEO purposes.
Going to forums and blogs and adding comments with links back to your site.
Hacking people’s sites and injecting links into their content.
Distributing poor quality infographics or widgets that include links back to your pages.
Offering discount codes or affiliate programs as a way to get links.
And, many other schemes where the resulting links are artificial in nature.
What Google really wants is for you to make a fantastic website, and promote it effectively, with the result that you earn or attract links.
So how do you do that?
The first key insight is to understand who it is that might link to content that you create.
Here is a chart that profiles the major groups of people in any given market space:
Who do you think are the people that might implement links?
It’s certainly not the laggards, and it’s also not the early or late majority.
It’s the innovators and early adopters. These are the people who write on media sites, or have blogs, and who might add links to your site.
There are also other sources of links, such as locally-oriented sites, such as the local chamber of commerce or local newspapers.
You might also find some opportunities with colleges and universities if they have pages that relate to some of the things you’re doing in your market space.
Create Expert Content
Now that we know who the potential linkers are, the next step is to create content to which they want to link.
It’s pretty easy for them to find better content than yours on the web, if it exists.
The best way to cope with that reality is to create expert content. If you can do this, your chances of getting people to link to you go way up.
People want to be part of sharing expert content with their friends and their followers online. And, if they write on a media site or on a blog, some of them will want to write about it as well.
If you want this to have a huge impact on your SEO, then start thinking about creating “Elite Content” or “10X Content” (i.e., content that is 10 times better than anything else ever published on the topic before).
This is content that causes you to be seen as a thought leader, and it’s the best type of content to create to boost your online reputation, visibility, and SEO.
Trust & Relationships
This all sounds good, but it’s not enough to publish great stuff.
If people don’t trust you, or if they’re not willing to take a chance on you, progress will be much slower.
It’s important to realize that any given marketplace represents an ecosystem. If you’re seen as only looking out for yourself, people will be slow to support you.
Instead, find ways to work the ecosystem.
Help others out on social media.
Respond to comments in your social media feeds, and on posts that you publish online.
Go to conferences and make completely non-commercial presentations that inform the audience on topics of interest in your market.
Go to local events and share advice and counsel.
Become an active and contributing member of the community (that forms your marketplace), and actively share the smart advice and contributions of others.
If you share and link to great content that others publish, the chances that they will share and link to your content goes way up.
Bylined Articles (Guest Posts) & Publishing on Third Party Sites
Publishing content on third-party sites (a.k.a., Guest Blogging) can be a smart thing to do, too.
Consider trying to get a column on a major media site that covers your market niche. This will certainly contribute to your reputation as an expert and help with your reputation and visibility.
Also, most media sites will give you an attribution link at the bottom of each article, or they’ll give you an author bio page that links back to you as well.
These types of bylined articles can be invaluable in driving SEO benefits.
Be careful, though, to focus on the high end of potential target sites.
If 100 sites cover your market, then there are no more than 20, possibly 30 targets, that will do, and it’s the top 20 or 30 sites in your space.
How do you get there?
Ah yes, we’re back to your ability to create expert content again!
The Role of Social Media
If you’re able to leverage a strong social media presence, you can expose your content to a large number of people.
However, this depends on your building a positive image with that audience.
If you do that through positive interactions with your community, including the pre-existing influencers in the community, you have a strong chance of netting good results.
Obtaining good results from social media depends on creating the right types of content.
A study by Moz and BuzzSumo analyzed 1 million articles to try to determine the correlation between shares and links. This study showed that across the complete article set, there was almost no correlation at all.
However, a deeper analysis showed that certain types of content performed far better.
In particular, opinion-forming journalism from recognized experts, and data-driven research studies showed a strong correlation between shares and links.
This ties in well with the idea of writing content for innovators and early adopters and recognizing this should be a cornerstone of your overall link-earning/attraction strategy.
Once you have established this position in the market, the role of social media becomes easy. You use it to create exposure to great new content, and the rest takes care of itself!
One final word about social media and link authority:
It is highly unlikely that any major search engines use links in social media posts as an authority signal. They realize that links from social media posts are nowhere near as clear a signal as links from regular websites.
Also, most major social media platforms use a nofollow attribute on outbound links, which tells search engines not to pass any PageRank through the link.
Make use of social media to build your personal and brand authority and trust and to build relationships with relevant influencers, both of which can lead to more opportunities to earn links.
Earlier, we spoke about the role of innovators and early adopters.
Another term people use for these two groups of people is influencers, because others (including your potential customers) are influenced by them.
So social media can help provide visibility for your content, and potentially result in links, but this goes even faster if influencers are involved in sharing your content. Once that starts happening, the growth of your reputation, visibility, and links will accelerate.
Getting influencers interested in sharing your content depends heavily on:
The trust and relationships you build with them.
Your willingness to share/link to their stuff.
The quality of the content you create.
Building a Content Marketing Plan
Last, but certainly not least, create a real plan for your content marketing.
Don’t just suddenly start doing a lot of random stuff. Take the time to study what your competitors are doing so you can invest your content marketing efforts in a way that’s likely to provide a solid ROI.
One approach to doing that is to pull their backlink profiles using Link Explorer, Majestic, and Ahrefs. With this information, you can see what types of links they’ve been getting and then based on that figure out what links you need to get to beat them.
Take the time to do this exercise and also to map which links are going to which pages on the competitors’ sites, as well as what each of those pages rank for.
Building out this kind of detailed view will help you scope out your plan of attack and give you some understanding of what keywords you might be able to rank for.
It’s well worth the effort!
In addition, study the competitor’s content plans.
Learn what they are doing and carefully consider what you can do that’s different.
Focus on developing a very clear differentiation in your content for topics that are in high demand with your potential customers.
This is another investment of time that will be very well spent.
Putting It All Together
In a Google Hangout sponsored, Google engineer Andrey Lipattsev was asked what the top ranking factors are for Google. He replied that the top two were links and content (but not necessarily in that order).
It’s easy to misunderstand that statement (in reality both links and content are probably made up of and influenced by a great many particular factors), but the import of the statement is clear: To do well with search engines, you must have high-quality content and authoritative, relevant links.
Remember where we began this chapter: Search is the quest for authority.
Search engines want happy users who will come back to them again and again when they have a question or need. The way they create and sustain that happiness is by providing the best possible results that satisfy that question or need.
To keep their users happy, search engines must be able to understand and measure the relative authority of webpages for the topics they cover.
When you create content that is highly useful (or engaging or entertaining) to visitors – and when those visitors find your content reliable enough that they would willingly return again to your site, or even seek you out above others – you’ve gained authority.
The search engines work hard at continually improving their ability to match that human quest for trustworthy authority.
As we explained above, that same kind of quality content is key to earning the kinds of links that assure the search engines you should rank highly for relevant searches. That can be either content on your site that others want to link to or content that other quality, relevant sites want to publish, with appropriate links back to your site.
Remember what we said above and treat your SEO as part of an ecosystem:
Serve your audience.
Build relationships (especially with influencers).
Increase the reputation of your brand.
Focusing on these three pillars of SEO – authority, relevance, and trust – will increase the opportunities for your content and make link-earning easier.
You now have everything you need to know for SEO success. So get to work!
Every SEO Expert Needs to Know About DA – Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is Moz’s way of telling us how well a website should rank, using a 0 to 100 scale. The higher the DA, the better chance it has to rank, theoretically. Refer – https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority
Third-party SEO metrics are not the only indicators of a site’s authority and shouldn’t be confused as being actual Google metrics.
I want to preface this article by stating that it could have been written about any SEO tool’s metrics. All the major tools have ways of measuring things that are important to the link builders and SEO professionals of the world.
Domain Authority just happens to be the one that seems to most often be erroneously viewed as being an actual Google metric, at least from my experience.
We do use various metrics, and we used Moz’s metrics for years. The majority of our clients used Moz so we did, too.
Now most of them don’t, for reasons that I’m not privy to, so neither do we.
We use what makes the most sense for us after all. That’s nothing to do with anything else.
Third-Party Metrics Domain Authority (DA) Are Not the Only Indicators of a Site
If you’re going to use a metric, pick one and stick to it, whichever one you prefer.
Just don’t use it as the only indicator of a site.
And please please please don’t confuse it as being an actual Google metric.
In any given month, I’d estimate that 75% of the requests for information that I receive in my Inbox mention Domain Authority.
It varies from “we require DA 50+ links” to “can you guarantee me that all the links will be DA 60 and higher?”
I tried something: responding with “we don’t use those specific metrics” just to see what would happen.
The result? None of the people I said that to responded back to me.
I then tried responding with “we don’t use those metrics and here’s why…” and that generated a fair amount of responses. (The “why” is simply because we use the tools our clients use, just FYI.)
My issue is that no one comes to us with requirements for specific numbers in any other tool.
Why is that?
I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten an email where a potential client demands a certain Topical TrustFlow.
Many will use other tools’ metrics in their set of guidelines for us of course, but no one immediately starts with any other metric besides DA.
Third-Party Metrics Domain Authority (DA) Don’t Equate to PageRank
I recently had a discussion with a potential client where I explained how we analyze a site.
She asked me why we stopped using DA since “it’s the closest thing to Google’s PageRank, right?”
We don’t know that.
That’s the big problem with DA. It doesn’t come from Google.
It comes from a company that has a way of measuring something.
Moz even specifically states that DA is not used by Google.
“Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs.”
Why does this seem to confuse so many?
Part of the issue that (I think) confuses people is the word “authority” and the fact that DA is, obviously, Domain Authority. That word is very powerful and they were wise to use it for marketing.
When people talk about authority, they are talking about a concept that can’t immediately and easily be measured.
Mark Traphagen has a great article that dives in deep to authority. This bit, in particular, stands out to me:
“Google used to make a version of PageRank visible to users of the Google Toolbar, but they no longer do that. Instead, many SEO professionals use third-party metrics, such as:
Domain Authority and Page Authority from Moz.
Citation Flow and Trust Flow from Majestic.
Domain Rank and URL Rank from Ahrefs.
Each of these metrics does a good job of helping you evaluate the merits of a page and offering a working estimate for how much PageRank it has to pass.
Still, you should understand that these are only back-engineered estimates of how authoritative Google sees the domain or page, and not actual representations of PageRank.
It’s also important to be aware that none of these tools provide a complete picture of all links on the web. Unlike Google, these tools do not have the infratructure required to crawl the entire web, so they instead focus on discovering a significant sample of the links to a given site or page.”
These are “not actual representations of PageRank.”
That’s the critical bit.
Google’s John Mueller even told us that Domain Authority is “a tool by Moz.”
A couple of days ago, I was doing discovery for a super picky (and long-term) client who automatically discounts sites if they don’t meet his minimum metric.
I found five really great sites that ranked in the top 30 for my target keywords.
To me, all of them looked like good placements that I would expect the client to like. However, sadly none of them met his criteria given for metrics.
In this case, it wasn’t Domain Authority, it was Majestic’s TrustFlow. I decided to ask a friend to look up the DA on these and it was low on all of them.
But the sites were ranking well and after looking at traffic estimates, their traffic seemed healthy.
Why wouldn’t I want a link on a site that ranked well and got good traffic?
Oh right, the metrics weren’t good enough.
(I’ve stated my case to this client – and many others – about being such a stickler for metrics above all else, but he’s one who won’t budge.)
A while back, Moz updated their Domain Authority to make it more accurate and help weed out spammier sites.
Around a month ago when I still used Moz, I grabbed a small list of sites that we had in our Do Not Contact Database and checked to see what their DA was now.
I’d expected the DA to be very low on these sites as many of them are in our database because they are constantly spamming everyone with emails offering to sell links and almost all of them openly sell links on their sites.
Surprisingly, about 75% of them still had a DA higher than 30.
At the time I entered them into this database, I recorded their current DA and most of them stayed within a few points of that original DA, years later.
What Does That Tell You?
When we conduct manual discovery (meaning my team searches the web for something just like you would), we also see a lot of sites that have a great DA, terrible DR (Ahref’s Domain Rating metric), and completely unusual Topical TrustFlow.
We see some low DA sites that look great in Majestic and Ahrefs.
We see some that look good or bad across all three tools.
Some sites have great metrics and are deindexed in Google.
Some have zero traffic or steep declines but still, the DA is good!
Our general rule is to go to the 10th page in the SERPs, meaning we’re looking at the top 100 sites. Many of these sites with mixed or poor metrics are in the top 30. We even see this in the top 10 at times.
You Can’t Judge a Site Based on a Single MetricDomain Authority (DA)
You simply cannot judge a site by its DA, or by its DR, or by its anything else that’s just one metric.
Even if we knew Google’s PageRank for a site, that shouldn’t be used as the most important metric when you’re deciding whether you’d like a link there.
They’re all great metrics, but site analysis is not that black and white.
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