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How to Measure the Link Authority of Your Content
Posted on October 15th 2013
There are seemingly endless ways to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. From the basics such as traffic and conversions to more expansive KPIs and social engagement, tools and analytics programs are available to help tell the story of a successful content marketing campaign. But for some it can be difficult to figure out how to measure the link authority of your content.
As link building changes and morphs from its old school ways to being more focused on content it’s imperative to recognize the value content can play from a link building perspective. The following tools and information help our team figure out how to measure the link value of content and share that with our clients. Hopefully it can help you understand the value as well!
Tracking Backlinks to Content
Arguably one of the most important factors in ranking a website or piece of content high in search results is still quality of links. If your goals are to rank better in search engines, more visibility and compete against the big guys you better be sure to have some links to back you up. An effective way to measure the authority of your content’s links is to pull the backlinks to said content using third party backlink tools and examine the data provided by each tool.
Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Fresh Web Explorer are two tools that aid in discovering newly acquired backlinks to content on your site. Both are user friendly and have the ability to discover backlinks you didn’t know you’d acquired. It could take some time for ALL your backlinks to show up in Open Site Explorer but Fresh Web Explorer seems to be pretty accurate and quick. Authority of the links is shared both on the domain level and page level, as well as a cumulative score ranking called MozRank.
Ahrefs can be used just as the other tools mentioned here. The advantage of using Ahref’s tool set is the way in which they break down the data into graphs and other visualization methods. See IP addresses of the links pointing to your domain or a specific content piece as well. Domain rank and URL rank are provided as authoritative metrics on this platform.
Majestic SEO provides everything you need to know about your backlinks including giving you an idea of link velocity using their backlink history tool. Citation flow and trust flow give an indication of authoritative value when using Majestic SEO.
Google Webmaster Tools shares links pointing to your site, but many experts have found that the data can be old and not complete. Since you’re likely most concerned with what Google see’s as your backlinks GWT is a great place to examine the links built to your site. Not as user friendly as the other tools and not as complete means you need to look at the data with a selective eye, but it can be valuable nonetheless. Checking Page Rank of the links is one value metric provided by Google, however you’ll have to manually check and PR hasn’t been updated in quite some time.
Review backlinks to a piece of content using these tools and look at different data sets to evaluate its value. Each of the factors shared below aid in passing the most authority to your site and content piece. To properly attribute value of a link obtained give credit where credit is due when a natural link is attracted by a piece of content. A link just isn’t a link, it has many value points. Share this information with higher ups or clients to hammer home that your efforts are worthwhile.
- What value the tool places on the link. Domain Authority/Page Authority, Ahref domain rank, trust flow, etc…
- TLD – .edu and .gov links are some of the most authoritative and hardest to get
- Do follow
- Link location on the page
- Anchor text and supporting optimized text on the page
- # of outbound links from the page
- # of inbound links to the page
Sure, third party backlink checkers can discover links pretty quickly but they may miss a few. That’s where your website analytics program can come in handy. Sites may link to you and generate traffic in the form of visits. By utilizing your website analytics program and diving into referral traffic to the content piece in question you’re able to discover some links that third party tools might not catch.
A valuable link should generate some clicks if it is indeed valuable to visitors, on a site that is authoritative and receives traffic itself. Website analytics tools such as Google Analytics offer trackbacks which can help you discover backlinks as well. This post on hmtweb.com helps you understand how to analyze inbound links in GA’s social reports. Look to gather data from your website analytics program to discover backlinks. In addition, attribute value to a link based on the information you find such as those listed below. A link is valuable not just for the authority it passes but the traffic and what those visitors do while on your site as well.
- Visits & unique visitors
- Time on page
- In page clicks
Other Content Link Value Measurements
Website analytics and third party tools to find backlinks are both great ways to uncover the links and value of links to your content. For those who want to dive even deeper, however, there are a few additional places to finish up your research.
Web Server Logs – server logs provide you with a history of page requests including referrer data. Potent.com has a great article about using your server logs to find broken links. The same tactic can be used to find links you might not have known existed as well.
SEO Rankings – one of the best ways to show value for your content is to monitor the rankings of keyword phrases you think the piece should rank for. Using a tool like SEMRush.com you can see keyword phrases your site and content ranks for once it starts ranking in the first 20 results. Not sure what your content will rank for? Figure out what your content is optimized for and put those keyword phrases into a ranking checker to continue monitoring status. Report the progress to your clients or higher ups to prove the value of content efforts and see improvements as link building continues.
E-mail Alerts – Tools like Google Alerts, Talk Walker, and Mention.net can serve up new links to your e-mail. Set up an alert so you’re notified when a new page is cached/indexed for your brand name, title of your Infographic or other content piece. Likely there is an attribution link associated with that mention and if there isn’t then you have an unlinked brand mention you can go after and acquire. Either way you’re monitoring new mentions and can attribute value to those naturally acquired instances.
Goals in Website Analytics – Some sites don’t have the proper goals set up. In order to show the true value of a content piece you may consider setting up specific goals for content marketing initiatives. Set up goals for free guide downloads so you can see what the referral traffic from a specific link may garner. Ensure you have goals set up for conversion pages so you can also see what link traffic might result in. Each of these are successes you can attribute to your content and link building.
Custom Reports – Setting up custom reports in Google Analytics is key in understanding the true value of content marketing. Josh Braaten from Rasmussen College wrote this article on the Google Analytics blog discussing how they monitor what content prospective students view prior to converting. It’s a worthwhile read for those interested in evaluating the value of content. The visitors who click on the links you build can be monitored throughout your site to see which content performs the best and in the end which links are the most valuable for your KPIs.
Did I miss any tools, tricks or tips on associating link value to content marketing efforts? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.