Using Majestic Citation Flow and Trust Flow to check the Quality of your Link Prospects
This article is mainly aimed at the agency world where there are outreach or link building teams working full time to find potential and trustworthy sites for their client’s links to be placed on.
In an age when it is easily possible for links to harm your site, it is very important to make sure that the links being built are of the highest quality and will not cause any issues now or in the future. This post is therefore designed to help you learn how you can use Majestic SEO to quickly analyse a link prospect, (such as a potential guest post), and see how trustworthy the website is.
Now that we are into 2014; we are in a time where even the safer, content based links such as Guest Posting is being abused. Because of the Google Penguin update, and buzz on the web, guest posting is labelled the number one link building method. Some digital marketers have taken this advice too far and guest posting is now being over-used. There are now thousands, if not millions, of sites being set up specifically for guest posting as a form of monetary income for site owners; (for sites that are asking payment for an “admin fee”). What used to be things such as directory submissions, now has a new label on it… “Guest Posting.”
There is a huge volume of guest posts being built each month to both small and big brands. We all know that whenever a link building method gets abused, Google is watching very carefully and looking at how they can combat it. I fully expect them to roll out some major changes this year to target some of the lower quality sites, which are there specifically to supply guest posts.
In an agency environment where there are hundreds of links to build each month, this can add up to a lot of pressure. This can lead to placing content on some sites that may look good but in reality, the website owner may have used that domain for “spammy” tactics in the past and is now just using it for link placements. It’s these sites that give your client no benefit from gaining a link whatsoever. Have too many of these links and you could end up with a manual penalty from Google.
The good news is that with the Majestic SEO tool you can actually use their metrics to quickly find out if a site is “spammy” or not. Using a combination of Citation Flow and Trust Flow, you can get an overall ratio that will allow you to quickly analyse whether a site if trustworthy or not.
Finding the Trust Ratio of a site
Before I go into how to find the trust ratio of a site, you must first understand exactly how Citation Flow and Trust Flow work. Dixon’s article on Flow Metrics explains this terminology. But the main thing to remember is that Citation Flow is link juice and the Trust Flow is how close those links are to trustworthy, authoritative sources.
To get the Trust Flow you simply do the following calculation: Trust Flow / Citation Flow = Trust Ratio
The basics behind why the trust ratio works is because, if the Citation Flow is high and the Trust Flow is low, this means that the website being checked has a lot of link equity (or “juice”), but barely any trust from those links. This usually indicates that the site has gained those links from “spammy” areas of the web as they are not close to authoritative sources.
On the flip side of this, if a site has a high amount of Trust Flow and low Citation Flow this means that the links pointing to that site are from very trustworthy sources .i.e. a trustworthy site that you want a link from.
To give you an extreme example of this situation – here are 2 websites, one that is trustworthy and one that was built for “spammy” purposes.
A good website
Possibly an over the top example but it proves the point! Alternet.org is a large online magazine with a huge online community, and as you can see, has a Trust Flow of 68 and Citation Flow of 54.
Trust Flow / Citation Flow = Trust Ratio aka 68 / 54 = 1.259
With a trust ratio of 1.259, you know that this site has links from trustworthy sources and is a good site to outreach to for your client.
A poor website
For the purposes of this article I will not name the site in which I have used for this example, however they are an active website accepting and regularly publishing content.
From this you can see the Trust Flow is considerably lower than the Citation Flow. Using the same calculation you can see the difference in the trust ratio.
7 / 35 = 0.2
The trust ratio here is well below 1 and shows that this site has gained its link profile using “spammy” techniques.
I discovered this site by looking at the backlinks of a heavily penalised site. It shows that having a lot of links from sites like these will eventually cause issues.
So in a nutshell this shows that using a quick glance of the Majestic SEO metrics of a site can really help you to decide whether a site is technically trustworthy or not. If you are within a digital marketing agency with a high volume of links to provide. This can save you hours of quality checking sites prior to contacting them to make sure the links you build are of the highest possible quality.
Just one personal recommendation: to speed the process up even more, use the Majestic SEO Chrome plugin to check the metrics as you look at the site.
This check is only a quick overview and does not always apply to every site. There are many perfectly trustworthy sites out there that have a Trust Flow lower than the Citation Flow. All you need is a bit of common sense when doing this. However sites with Citation Flow of 35 along with a Trust Flow of 7 are nearly always going to be poor quality sites. There are additional things you can do to make this more accurate such as using anchor text ratios and looking at the trust ratios of entire niches. But I will be covering this in another article so stay tuned. If you would more information or advice on any of the aspects covered within this article please get in touch.