5 Things You Need To Know Before Performing A Backlink Analysis

November 27th, 2013 by Mary Silva

Getting lost in the jargon of backlinking research tools is common whether you are new to SEO or have been practicing link building for a long time. However, the number of other sites that link to yours (inbound links) has consistently been a critical factor for search engine rankings. So, naturally there are many tools that allow you to easily perform a backlink analysis on your site—or even a competitor’s site—to find new opportunities.

Popular sites that allow you to do this are OpenSite Explorer.org, LinkResearchTools.com, Ahrefs.com, and MajesticSEO.com, to name a few. There are also search engine sites that allow you to pull backlink reports like Blekko.com and Bing Webmaster Tools (only lets you check sites you own, though). No matter which service you choose to use, you will be faced with a lot of technical jargon that you will have to understand prior to performing your analysis.

So, here are the 5 terms that I feel are most needed to understand in order to perform this type of analysis:

1. Backlink
It seems like the most obvious one, but in order to understand the more complex vocabulary of SEO research you must first truly understand the basics. A backlink is any link from one website to another. Backlinks are also know as “incoming links,” “inlinks,” and “inbound links.” Sometimes the word “citation” is incorrectly used as a synonym, but a citation refers to any mention of a business on the web. This can occur with or without a link and can be the name, phone number, and/or address of the business.

2. Page Authority
This is a metric used by the increasingly popular Moz. Page authority describes the probability of a particular page being found on a search engine. According to Moz.com, “The best way to influence this metric is to improve your overall SEO.” It is not an easy metric to influence directly because it takes into account a varied array of factors.

3. Domain Authority
Also used by Moz, domain authority is a similar metric to page authority, but it measures the probable ranking strength of an entire subdomain or domain instead of a single page. Like page authority, it is hard to directly effect, so it’s best to use both page and domain authority as comparative metrics when doing backlink research.
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4. Citation Flow
This is a metric that both MajesticSEO’s site explorer and WhiteSpark.ca’s local citation finder provide. Citation flow is a number that attempts to anticipate a site’s influence based on its link portfolio or number of inbound links. The numbers from this metric range from 0 to 100.

5. Trust Flow
Trust flow is a little bit for tricky to define, but it basically quantifies the quality or “trust” of the links pointing back to a site. For both citation flow and trust flow, the higher the number the better. It seems that a site must have a large quantity of high quality inlinks from pages with good authority to increase these metrics. Google, for example, has a 99 for both citation and trust flow.

As with all SEO efforts, the practices used in backlink analyses are most effective when performed alongside other internet marketing work with the big picture of SEO in mind. Hopefully this has been a good refresher for the more experienced SEO gurus and a foundation builder for some of you newcomers out there.