How To Terrify Executives Into Linkbuilding

Much has been written about the poor in-house SEO, fighting the good fight to inculcate SEO awareness and best practices throughout the organization. This is an unenviable task and more than one in-house has shared a narrative with me that sounds something like this:

 SEO:  “So, I’m concerned that we’re not proactively link-building and that may have a negative impact on our high quality in bound traffic.”

Executive:  “But when I type-in the company’s name, we are number one in Google.”

SEO:  “Yes, well you are getting personalized results AND there’s a lot more to . . .”

Executive:  “Don’t worry, we have a lot of PageRank juice all over our website.” 

SEO:  “But the amount of converting traffic has declined over the past . . .” 

Executive:  “Besides spiders really like our platform.  Robots do too.” 

SEO:  “OK, I’ll go clean up all that PageRank juice.  Where’s the mop and bucket?”  

The purpose of this post is to provide SEO’s with a series of metrics with which to evaluate your link profile as well as a series of visuals with which to scare MBAs into action. (Or at least approving a budget.)

While I’ve written against benchmarking within your own industry; for internal reporting to business executives, comparing your company to competitors can be extremely effective for galvanizing support and loosening pursestrings.

To make your job easier, I’m drawing data entirely from free tools – primarily Blekko, Majestic and SEOmoz. The former offers SEO data after every search; the latter two offer products: Site Explorer and Open Site Explorer, not to be confused with Yahoo’s . . . . errrr . . . Site Explorer.

For demonstration purposes, I’ll compare Urbanspoon to OpenTable, now that both are in the online reservations space. Accessing these tools is pretty easy and there are more than a few browser plug ins that aggregate some reporting. I use SEO for Chrome Extension for a very quick, cursory look.

Of course, the obvious starting point is a simple overall metric.

Google PageRank is an obvious (and simplistic, poor, inadequate, misleading) choice, that many fallaciously believe aggregates all of that delicious Google Juice into a simple number.

Both SEOmoz  and Majestic offer a variety of metrics on a 100 point scale – Domain mozrank (SEOmoz) and Domain Authority (Majestic) are their respective attempts to calibrate Page Rank.

The problem with overall metrics, of course, is that they tell a very, very small part of the picture.

Instead, let me suggest a variety of supplemental metrics that are both actionable and highly scary (read: competitive) to MBA types.

Competitive Domain Diversity Ratios

I prefer to use domain diversity to evaluate the quality of linkbuilding campaigns. It’s not a perfect metric; however, it more accurately reflects genuine linkbuilding initiatives than sheer link volume. Looking at the sheer number of links entirely misses the point.

To wit – a single site with a footer link could generate thousands, even millions of links, all of which are completely useless.

Get domain diversity from Majestic under the Linking Domains tab – be sure to update the pulldown for “pages on this root” (below). In Blekko, just do a search for your site, click, seo underneath the result and then hit “inbound links” under Domain SEO.

On SEOmoz’s OpenSite Explorer, make sure you look at the entire domain by using the drop down “pages on this root” and then running the report.

Note:  you only get three freebies daily with SEOmoz; at some point, Majestic prompted me to create a free account too, which gave me enough reports to write this article in one day.

Compare these three reporting tools and graph:


Cumulative Domain Diversity from Majestic

Graphically depict differences in domain diversity over time with Majestic’s historic reporting.

This requires a free account with Majestic to get access to their cumulative domain report and graphically compare your site with up to 4 competitors.


Non-Homepage Links

The true art of an SEO’s linkbuilding lies in the ability to drive links to interesting content, not your PR team’s ability to drive stories that link to the homepage (although these links are extremely valuable.)

Look at your homepage to non-homepage link ratio. (You are shooting for the lowest percentage of links going to your homepage here.) I can do this easily with Blekko, Majestic or SEOmoz data.  Here’s the reporting from Majestic:


Just run reports for both the Root Domain and the Page and calculate a ratio of homepage:overall on both links and domains. Below is the data from Majestic with 5 different domains:


Again, if you can look at this from a link perspective, it tells a very different story than the domain perspective. My strong bias is that domain comparison is much more reflective of overall organic link strength of a site.

The next three graphs are based on the assumption that overall link strength is reflected in your long tail results.

Ideally, you should see growth in both the number of landing pages and the number of different keywords brining traffic to your site. You can get both of these from Google Analytics (and obviously can’t get them for your competitors).

Number Of Landing Pages



Number Of Keywords


Sitemap:Crawl:Index:Entry Ratio

Finally, the grandaddy of all data wrapped into a single visual. This reviews the effectiveness of all of your pages at driving traffic. This is based on the assumption that the better your link profile, the more pages you’ll get crawled, the more pages will be indexed and the more pages will get traffic.

You can make pretty scary graphs that would make any MBA Strategy 101 class proud by turning these into stacked area graphs in either absolute (to show progress over time) or relative (to show the percentage of your pages that don’t have a chance of getting any traffic).


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Advanced | Channel: SEO | How To | How To: Links | In House Search Marketing | Link Building | Link Building: General


About The Author: is the founder of Atticus Marketing - a search agency dedicated exclusively to the legal profession. Prior to Atticus, Conrad ran marketing for Urbanspoon and the legal directory Avvo, which rose from concept to market leader under his watch.

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Executive: “But when I type-in the company’s name, we are number one in Google.”
    SEO: “Yes, well you are getting personalized results AND there’s a lot more to . . .”

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with my clients! I don’t know if they don’t want to see the truth or just can’t quite wrap their heads around it. Obviously seeing is believing, and if it looks like Google loves you than why would they want to believe me when I say otherwise?

  • leosaraceni

    I wouldnt have guessed Open Table had bigger SEO presence than urbanspoon. Either way, this alternative presentation method definitely hits the mark. Execs love graphs, but they dont seem to care too much about user behavior/domain authority. I shall give it a try.

  • Ryan Portsmouth

    We have just had to can our outside SEO company because they were doing more damage than good with “black hat” link building activities. It’s great to get links however with Googles Panda update there is a component that considers the quality of the sites where the links are located and if the site quality is seen too low per Googles standards it starts to devalue your website that has the link has come from, especially when Google thinks it is a link building farm.

    I had commented to this company that will remain un-named for some time about not having links in relevant websites, this company is in the security space yet 1 of their link building websites listed brothels in Amsterdam. Yes we may have well over 1,000 links to us but month after month our organic traffic dropped regardless of on-going activities that were designed to increase our organic traffic in consultation with the SEO company. This focused greatly on original content, updating existing content, social strategies and in-site code (specifically META) clean-up.

    The SEO company also failed to understand that we have a diverse range of products and we cannot have just a single set of keywords with 1 description and title for every page. We cannot list a software as a service product with something that monitors access to keys on every page.

    Unless we were getting a very specific search term all organic traffic was going to our homepage and our bounce rate got up to 60% that again devalued our website in SEO.

    Then the nail in the coffin was what they failed to understand, even though today I’m the International Marketing Manager (the same role in an American company of similar size to ours is VP of Sales & Marketing) my qualification is in Information Management. They couldn’t understand that I have come up via web development and SEO. Then they failed to understand that I keep current also, I have 12 years web development and SEO experience and they wouldn’t allow me to speak to anyone technical to understand how they are expecting to help us, it was just the same glib ansers.

    At the end of the day, my advice to companies is with link-building especially, read the Google blog, find out what is working, don’t rely on reports from SEO companies, target the links and keep it fresh. Anything less is more than likely to see a drop in your rankings and quality.

  • SarahT

    Is it very wrong that I looked at the last graph and just said “that’s sexy”?


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