Hi, I’m Dr Bradley Tomkins from BradleyTomkins.com .
I’m an SEO consultant and a family doctor who has been a BHC member for a year now. I absolutely love the friendly community we have here!
I’ve recently published an in-depth tutorial on how to use the Majestic SEO Site Explorer that was very well received so when I heard that there was an opportunity to do a guest post I submitted my latest back link tool analysis to give a little something back to our community.
I thought it would be illuminating to do a quick analysis of the back link data returned for a randomly chosen site, http://www.thebricklanegallery.com , so that we could see the variation in results returned.
Remember that each of these services operate their own webcrawler bots and some are more powerful than others. They crawl a different selection of URLs on the World Wide Web exactly because they operate independently from each other. Their results will therefore be different. Combining data from as many link sources as you can is the only way to build up as full a back link profile as possible.
None of these services have the indexing power of Google (and to a lesser extent, Bing) to crawl the web and find back links. Their back link data is far larger than any of the back link data services available to the public. Note that no matter how similar to Google Page Rank the algorithms and calculations of third party services may or may not be, they can only be as good as the raw back link data they have gathered. It follows that if their back link data is incomplete, they might have missed out some important, powerful links so their metrics will therefore be inaccurate. Just bear that in mind! For reasons such as those, there are no absolutes when looking at third party metrics. Don’t put all of your faith in stats like Moz DA or PA etc.
SEO is an art as well as a science specifically because we never have absolutely all of the data we need to make decisions with 100% certainty.
Here’s what I found on Jan 25th 2016 when I looked for the back link data on the root domain of thebricklanegallery.com
2063 backlinks (but they only show you 1000) from 239 domains
1,119 backlinks to the domain from 361 domains
748 backlinks from 388 domains
38 backlinks from 35 domains
In this test, Majestic came out as the winner, having crawled and indexed more substantially more back links and referring domains to thebricklanegallery.com with its “Historic Index” than any other service. It’s usually a close run thing between Ahrefs and Majestic as to which service will have indexed the most BLs.
OpenLinkProfiler performed surprisingly well for a completely free tool and is recommended. The user interface is also colourful and well designed!
Back LinkWatch is a horrible site full of flashing banner ads and the filter tabs are actually affiliate links! The user experience is very poor. I had to copy and paste out the list of 1000 back links that they would display and analyse them myself.
Note that I had to download an Excel report from Moz to get their back link data for the root domain. Then I had to sort through it myself to pull out those stats! Groan. Notably, their BL index is substantially smaller than those of Majestic and Ahrefs as demonstrated so clearly in this example.
SEOSpyglass didn’t pull back as many back links as I had hoped for but I did limit the results to 5 back links per domain. Importantly, it did identify the 3rd highest number of referring domains though! It only cost my one cent in captcha-solving costs to run the analysis.
The clear losers are SEMRush and SpyFu and that is no surprise to me. They are very good for getting data on a competitor’s traffic, keyword ranking and PPC campaigns but they just don’t index enough BLs to compete with the other services. I don’t really know why they bother!
In back link management and analysis I say it’s best to gather data from multiple sources then add them to a program like SEO Spyglass or Inspyder Backlink Monitor (I like them both) which can check which links are actually live, to build up your own database of a current BL profile that is superior to any of the services when taken individually.
I hope that this helps you and if you want to know more you can reach me through my blog.
I look forward to reading your comments and opinions below.