Some two weeks ago, a significant amount of noise occurred about a new link profiling tool arriving on the scene. Much like the new kid in school, many people were peeking over each others shoulders innately curious about this and especially for one reason, it is completely free. Having been a long time advocate of MajesticSEO, and SearchMetrics as key tools in my SEO toolbox, as well as having utilised OpenSiteExplorer, Ahrefs and a number of other tools. I thought that I’d take the opportunity to take Openlinkprofiler.org for a test drive and present my findings back to you, the State of Digital readers.
Now amongst the obvious features that you’d expect from a backlink research tool, OpenLinkProfiler claims to:
- Utilise their own web crawlers
- Update their link database every 5 minutes (refreshing the total database every 30 days)
- Calculate and apply their own link quality score ‘Link Influence Score (LIS)’
- Allow exports of up to 200,000 links per domain
- They also claim to uncover links that other tools don’t (although I have to say this appears a little too lofty a claim to believe on the surface)
So, it sounds like it could solve a number of SEO’s (particularly small agency, or freelancers) problems when looking for a backlink research tool to help them conduct analysis of their clients sites. So let’s dig a little deeper and walk through it’s individual features…
First glance on the OpenLinkProfiler backlink analysis tab displays a wealth of information, allowing you the filter the result in a multitude of ways. Just some of these filters can be seen in the screenshot below:
According to their own definition, this feature promises to “Find backlinks that might have a negative influence on the search engine rankings of your website” which sounds fairly straight forward to me. So how did it stack up in action?
For the test subject here, I decided to use the recently penalised Halifax.co.uk banking site, here’s what the tool threw up:
Another nice feature (only offered when you sign up) is one which allows you to create a disavow links file, useful should you be faced with a complex link detox project.
Funnily enough this feature on any link research/analysis tool is one that has almost entirely switched application from the ‘old days’. Anchor text analysis is now often used for identifying areas of over-optimisation and avoiding this wherever possible. It has been made incredibly clear that abuse of exact match anchor text is a signal for foul play, and let’s be honest – it doesn’t take a genius to understand how easy this is for the search engines to spot. Let’s revisit Halifax.co.uk again and have a look at what the report throws up…
One of the most popular aspects of many link analysis tools, the ‘pages’ area of analysis provides you with an outline of the top pages on the given domain, here’s how it looks:
As OpenLinkProfiler put it this report shows “The industries that link to the analyzed website sorted by frequency.” I have to say I’ve never seen a particularly accurate nor useful application for this section in many tools, of course it’s incredibly useful to understand the general origin of your links defined by industry. My issue is that many tools I’ve used to date often classify these in an overly broad way, or tend to mislead or simply provide too little data to draw any real conclusions from. In the instance of OpenLinkProfiler this seems to reside in the latter camp, with the screenshot below showing little actionable insight (in my opinion), as many of the links are classified as ‘advertising’:
This is definitely a section that I think could be improved.
Somewhat more useful that the Linking Industries report (above) is the Link Contexts report. This shows the ‘context’ of the links to the domain being research, see below:
I can see a number of useful applications of this, particularly if you’re beginning an analysis of a new client/potential client, looking out for obvious areas of grey/black hat tactics like forum and comment link building being abused. That said, when I tried to click through to see some information on the links that originated from these categories I couldn’t. This seems like a big oversight, and certainly something that I hope is a functionality in the alpha/paid version of the tool, otherwise I think this level of detail doesn’t provide me anywhere near the level that I would require to form any validated hypotheses.
Potentially more accurately described as number of linking ccTLDs this report is fairly straightforward, demonstrating the origin of your links based on country:
Regardless of whether you buy into Openlinkprofiler.org or not, I know that a number of SEOs out there are always keen on inbound link monitoring, and this handy feature provides you with exactly that. By entering any URL and your email address, you’ll get daily updates on newly discovered links. Nice feature for monitoring competitive link acquisition, general site maintenance
It may seem strange me saying this, but perhaps two of the most useful features of OpenLinkProfiler can be found under the ‘country stats’ and ‘industry stats’ headings. The country stats section showing you backlink information sorted by individual country. Certainly a top resource, and one that I already have bookmarked for a reference point to use during future research.
The data may not be the best out there, no, but its still something I can imagine myself referring back to in the future, should I be looking for data like this.
Like with the ‘country stats’ section, industry stats digs deeper into OpenLinkProfiler’s backlink database, this time sorting everything by ‘industry’. While you may have noticed that I criticised the categorisation of industries, in the analysis section above, I think that whether you’re looking for competitive link information, or supporting benchmark information for a pitch then collective data groups like this one can be particularly handy.
Unfortunately a cursory review of the information being provided shows that this area perhaps has a long way to become before it becomes genuinely useful. My initial dig around the data showed some rather confusing results, see below:
Now its also worth saying that this tool is currently in public beta, meaning there’s two important points you need to keep in mind:
- Its operating on a limited database – once release from public beta one can only assume that this will increase in the strength of the analysis and the quality of the data provided
- It is likely only going to remain free for a limited time only – so fill your boots while you can!
In my honest opinion I believe that there are several pros and cons that I recognised from getting under the surface of OpenLinkProfiler.
The Pros are:
- It’s free!
- Allows a large export of links per domain (see below)
- It allows top-level analysis to individuals who need a basis for their overall analysis
|Link analysis tool||Number of analyses||Analyzed sites/report||Allowed domains||CSV download|
|Majestic SEO||1||max. 25,000||just your own||no|
And the Cons:
- Call me overly loyal, but stacking up against a tool like MajesticSEO I still know which one I favour
- It won’t stay free forever…
- Some aspects of the tool should provide a deeper level of analysis (e.g. the link contexts and industry stats sections)
Of course, as with any link analysis tools, the data will be always be questioned and will likely differ largely from one tool to the next. The real goal here is to establishing trust and utilising comparable data when conducting your analysis. Don’t try to compare apples to chainsaws. Ultimately I think that OpenLinkProfiler could provide those of us who are particularly cash-strapped a tool to conduct some top-level link analysis, after all it is currently free.
However, having looked through a number of features to create this blog post, I must say that if you’re prepared to pay, then the entry level of Ahrefs ($79), or MajesticSEO ($49.99) aren’t expensive and I would certainly opt for these over OpenLinkProfiler for now. That said, I think that by giving a bit of TLC to some of the reporting areas, listening to its users and the wider community and potentially building in some features that other tools don’t (diversifying) then I think we could be hearing more from OpenLinkProfiler in the future…
- Have you had time to play with OpenLinkProfiler.org yet?
- If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the tool?
- Do you think that it holds its own, or are you going to remain with your current tools?
- What are your current tools?