SEER Interactive is always on the lookout for new tools and API's to make us more efficient and generate higher revenue for our clients. In order to do this we will be examining the tools we've discovered to see how useful they are based off of how they are programmed and what data they provide.
The second tool to be examined in this process is MajesticSEO.
MajesticSEO - The Good
- Crawled 127 Billion pages
- Over a Trillion URLs
- Anchor Text Indexed
- Link Tags Indexed (Redirect / Alt Text / NoFollow etc.)
- Data Export via CSV and API
Majestic SEO has crawled over 127 billion pages and over a trillion unique URLs. This makes MajesticSEO only the second company in the world to publicly announce that they have discovered this many URLs. The big question though, is how does all of this data help SEO campaigns? Well before we can discuss how the data impacts an SEO campaign we must discuss all of the data and features Majestic provides us with. Once you register a domain with Majestic, you gain access to several reports. I will discuss what I think are the most useful below.
The Anchors report shows you the most popular anchor texts to your domain, along with how many external links and referring domains use that anchor text. Additionally the report shows an ACRank spread, which is Majestic's way of ranking the importance of a website. This report is useful to get a sense of what people on the web are using as anchor text to link to your site. What makes this report even more useful is the ability to drill down into a specific anchor text.
Once you drill down into a specific anchor text from the Anchors report, you are shown information about all of the links that point to your domain. This information includes, the source, its ACRank, the date the link was found, the target URL, the target URL's ACRank, along with several source flags. The tags indicate what kind of link is pointing to your site including; redirect, frame, nofollow, images, deleted, mention, and alt text. This is where the real power of Majestic comes into play.
Imagine if you were able to find every link to your domain on the web along with these tags. Optimizing your links is now a simple matter of filtering the criteria you want, and emailing a webmaster and requesting they make a small change to an already existing link. Trying to target a specific keyword? Email webmasters requesting your anchor text to be changed to that keyword. Having access to all of these tags allows you to address these existing links in whatever way best fits your linking strategy.
Perhaps one of the most useful tags is the mentions tag. The mentions tag indicates that your domain has been referenced in plain text, however no link is provided. Creating a list of all the pages that mention the name of your site but do not link to it is an easy way to generate links.
Other reports allow you to break down this information in different ways. Some of these reports include referring domains, specific URLs within your domain, IP Addresses, Subnets, and even countries. How you use these reports will depend on the SEO strategy you are using, but these reports give you several more ways to analyze your data. I also should mention one of my favorite reports, the daily update report. I will get into why the daily report is one of my favorites later in this post.
Another major plus of MajesticSEO is the ability to export the data via a CSV or via an API.
MajesticSEO - The Bad
- No Keywords
- ACRank = Bad Metric
One of the unfortunate drawbacks of MajesticSEO, as they themselves are quick to point out, there is no ability to sort by keywords. The reason for this makes perfect sense when you consider the 127 billion pages that they have crawled. Storing all of the links from these pages alone requires a huge amount of processing power and data storage. In order to allow for keyword searching, MajesticSEO would have to index the entirety of all 127 billion pages, and then provide a search feature to sort through all of the data. Needless to say that is a tall order, especially considering MajesticSEO is primarily focused on finding links, not the keywords on the pages.
Another small drawback, which again MajesticSEO points out themselves, is that currently the ACRank of a site is only based on how many pages link to the website the link is on. Here is MajesticSEO's summary of the issue:
“It should be said that in it's current design it suffers from a serious drawback: actual ACRank weight of backlink is not taken into account, so a page with one backlink of ACRank 1 will have the same ACRank value of 1 just like the other page that has got backlink with ACRank of 10 (or 15), clearly the latter page should have gotten higher ACRank as being linked to from the more important pages intuitively makes the page they linked too also more important.” Full Definitions: MajesticSEO Glossary
While MajesticSEO plans to correct this problem, in the meantime they have implemented the ACRank spread. The ACRank spread shows the ACRank backlinks broken down by their ACRank. However after doing some spot checking on some of the websites that have high ACRanks I am very weary using ACRank as a metric for evaluating a page until this problem is fixed. Here is an example:
One Webpage http://cfsxiba.1freewebspace.com (I'm not linking because I don't want to give this page anymore links!) has an ACRank of 10, which according to MajesticSEO should have at least 1,024 links pointing to it. I assumed it would be a somewhat reputable site, fair assumption right? Wrong. When the site loads it takes you to a black screen with the words “Loadingâ¦” displayed in white. After a few seconds I scrolled down and saw a list of URLs and what appeared to be some porn spam. I don't know about you, but I DO NOT want a link to my site from there. Now the page was indexed on April 30th 2009, so it may have been changed or hacked, but not a risk I'd like to take.
Since the size of the database rivals that of Google, another thing to consider is what if Google, or any other search engine, hasn't indexed a page yet? Getting a link from that page won't be very helpful, and it's probably not a very valuable site! Furthermore if no one else has found it, it becomes very difficult to determine if it is a quality page without manually analyzing it.
MajesticSEO - The Ugly
- OLD DATA
Old data and the problems that result from it is the major problem with MajesticSEO.
While the vast amount of linking information is by far the draw of MajesticSEO, as with most large databases, it also causes some issues. Due to the fact that pages are constantly changing it is difficult to trust information that was gathered over a year ago. Depending on the type of domain you are optimizing for a large number of the pages MajesticSEO finds may not exist anymore, or may have been altered. While Majestic will tag links as deleted when it can no longer find them, this requires MajesticSEO to check the page again, which normally won't happen for a significant period of time.
As with most large databases focusing on the internet, this inaccuracy of data is to be expected. When crawling billions of pages it becomes very difficult to make sure the entire database is kept up to date. This means however that before the information can be used in an SEO campaign it must be cleaned up and verified to ensure the accuracy of the information. This inaccuracy of information is why I believe that the Daily Updates report is incredibly useful. Since the links were found within the past day, the information provided by the Daily Update is far more accurate than the data collected years ago.
- Tracks a HUGE amount of links
- Links may be old, pages may not exist, or the link may have been taken down
- ACRank is not a good metric to determine priority
- Some sort of script to evaluate sites is necessary
- If you can implement a system to evaluate links found my MajesticSEO, it can be VERY powerful
MajesticSEO allows you access to more linking information than any other tool I've seen. However as with other tools of this size the accuracy of old data becomes a problem. Combine this problem with the fact that the ranking metric MajesticSEO uses (ACRank) is a poor judge of the quality of a site sorting through existing links becomes a huge problem. So what is the best way to make use of the data we do have?
Start with what we know for sure: At some point every link in MajesticSEO's database pointed towards your site with the given tags. What makes this awesome is this is all you need to know!
Here at SEER we have built a tool that checks several data points to determine what we believe to be the quality of a website. Now all we need to do is sort these links by the quality of the website and bingo, we have a list of sites linking to us in order of importance!
This is a great first step but it leaves us with a few problems, does this site still exist / link to us / are the anchors the same? Well it should be pretty clear from whatever site ranking tool you use if the site still exists. As for if the site still links to us and if the anchors are the same? The last thing you'd want to have to do is manually check this for each link. Good thing is this is easy to find out! Building a web crawler to explore a web page for this information is a relatively simple task.
The power of Majestic SEO comes from the fact that it is able to find so many links. However at the current time Majestic doesn't seem to do a fantastic job of ranking the links or keeping the information up date. If you have a system in place that can automate this part of the process MajesticSEO has the potential to be an incredibly powerful tool.
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