Majestic launched a backlink checking service in 2008. This made it one of the first search-engine independent SEO tools to monitor backlinks. Fast-forward to today, and Flow Metric scores ( Trust Flow and Citation Flow ) have become industry standard benchmarks, and Majestic continues to be a go-to tool for SEO professionals worldwide.
One of the defining features of the web is how webpages link to other webpages. At a web page level, links can be seen in two ways: links to a page and links from a page. SEOs refer to links from a page to other pages as "outbound links". Links to a page from other pages are sometimes referred to as "inbound links", but are more commonly referred to as "backlinks".
Links live on web site content, and are considered in the context of the website that hosts these pages. An internal link is a link between two pages on the same site, and an external link is a link from a page on one website to a page on another.
Links are also openly discussed by search engines like Google, Bing and Majestic Search Explorer to be one of the main ranking factors in the organic search results (known as the SERPs, which stands for Search Engine Results Pages). People often misunderstand their importance, however. In recent years, the topical nature of content immediately surrounding the link may have more relevance than the overall theme of the page. Anchor text, in the past, was the most contextually relevant factor, but this may have changed now Google can index passages of text in isolation.
Finding outbound links from a page is easy – most web browsers allow you to look at the source code of the page using the "view-source" feature. "View-source" normally lists links in "a href" html tags. Finding backlinks to a page is a far more difficult proposition ("inbound links" to a page are referred to as backlinks). To find incoming links, it is necessary to crawl the worldwide to find as many links as possible. The data gathered from the crawl is used to maintain an "index" (a kind of link map). Backlink checkers are powered by indexes. Some backlink checkers offer more than one index, which can be confusing at first. A choice of indexes gives the user a choice to see if they want to look at recent data or for data gathered over a longer time.
Because the internet is very, very big, it costs a lot of money to crawl and store the data. The most valuable data a backlink checker can store are external backlinks. Many backlink checkers focus on external backlinks because of this value.
Are all backlinks equal?
Much like recommendations and references, Links can be thought of as having strength. A link from a very authoritative site (such as from the homepage of https://www.whitehouse.gov) tends to have more strength than a link from a site that no one has heard of.
Backlink checkers use different scores to suggest how strong a backlink is. A simple way is to focus on the source page of a link. Basic techniques include counting how many links the source page has, either at page or website/domain level.
Unfortunately primitive scores like source page backlink counts are easily manipulated. To combat this, backlink checkers have invented a range of proprietary metrics. The aim of these metrics is to make backlink comparison more meaningful and more efficient.
What makes Flow Metric scores different?
Majestic invented Flow Metric™; Citation Flow and Trust Flow are graph-based, URL-level metrics. Graph-based metrics provide deeper analysis than simplistic aggregations based on immediate neighbours.
Visibility Flow compliments Citation Flow and Trust Flow, offering URL level scores. Visibility Flow provides a weighted view on backlinks, giving a higher score to quality, editorial links on authoritative pages, and penalising links embedded within directories.
Majestic Backlink Checker offers Trust and Strength metrics
Link Strength metrics, like Citation Flow, attempt to capture the power of a page based on the number of links to or from other pages in the web graph. Trust scores, like Majestic Trust Flow, weights the analysis to give bias to preferred links from human curated sites. This offers a second dimension of analysis.
Flow Metric balances granularity of data with ease of use by presenting weighted scores from 0 to 100.
For backlinks, are Domain and Page Level metrics a substitute for Trust and Strength?
Many backlink checkers provide page and Domain authority metrics representing the perceived strength of a link. The page/domain split is different to two-dimensional trust / strength based measures of authority.
The Majestic backlink checker offers Trust and Strength scores at both URL (backlink) and Domain (refdomain) level.
Why check backlinks?
There are so many reasons why you may want to use a backlink checker, and an individual's specific reason will depend on what job they're trying to do. Different stakeholders will have a variety of needs, so a range of SEO tools may be needed to gather the comprehensive data requirements of your task.
Domain name traders may have interest in a website profile, and may need to identify the external backlinks in order to decide where to invest. PR and Reputation managers seek top backlinks for valuable referrals and mentions, or to identify and alert when toxic links point to a website. Digital agencies often perform link audits where they review an entire website's backlink profile and look for SEO links that might help or hinder their work.
Monitor backlinks of your main competitors and gain valuable insights.
Successful SEO backlink prospecting exercises could move a website's performance closer to that of its competition.
No matter your specific reason, most backlink checking comes down to one thing; good links are one of the signals that search engines may use to decide where in its search results it should place a website. As getting to the number one spot in search results is the aim of most commercial website owners, the Majestic backlink checker will help you to work out how the main search engines may see your site's reputation.
What is the difference between a backlink checker and a site explorer?
Site explorer is a term used to describe a more powerful version of a backlink checker. A great site explorer tool will go beyond merely showing data and often offer insights on how to get backlinks, monitor your backlink profile and provide advanced ways to filter, group, sort and export backlink data.
Majestic Site Explorer helps SEO and digital marketing professionals with Link Audit and Link Building. The backlink checker service is powered by a free version of Majestic Site Explorer. While not offering all the benefits of Site Explorer, the free backlink checker does offer Trust Flow, Citation Flow, backlink language analysis, Follow/NoFollow counts, number of outbound links, backlink history, and a summary of top anchor texts.
For professionals who need to investigate extended backlink, page and domain information, a Site Explorer can deliver the required data. Majestic supplements basic data with layers of additional information, including ways to see link context, find topical links, look at the number of other links on a source url, and filter results by which other backlinks are nearby.
Majestic now offers an interactive version of Site Explorer without charge.
Are Backlinks the Panacea for SEO?
The User Profile of a search engine user increasingly personalizes the SERPs, so two searchers could easily see very different results, based their preferences, search history, location, and other profile factors. So whilst better backlinks might result in an overall improvement of your web traffic, their context may mean you might get FEWER clicks, but from a more targeted set of user profiles.
How can I check lots of backlinks at once?
Most of the large SEO tools offer quick ways to extract data with no programming required. With the Majestic Bulk Backlink Checker you can upload up to one million domains or URLs, and return a CSV that contains key metrics for matched search terms.
How to get all metrics for any website?
Majestic paid plans start at $49.99/£39.99/€46.99, with API access available from $399.99/£319.99/€379.99. Find out more about plans and pricing.
Other ways to get Trust Flow for Free?
To build a comprehensive backlinks database like Fresh Index or Historic Index, billions of URLs need to be checked, scored, and analysed every day. Very few providers are able to collect, process and offer this data, with some tools resorting to unauthorised scraping of data to power their offering. When looking for a backlink checker, it is important to be aware of data provenance.
Rather than rely on an unauthorised service, users of Firefox and Chrome can download free tools that embed official metrics from their preferred provider, straight in the browser. For example, the Majestic browser plugins return free Trust Flow and Citation Flow, external backlinks and referring domain counts.