16 Ways to visualise back links

Over the past ten years within search I’ve read or dealt with link visualization in many ways, it could be to visually see where a website stands against its competition, it could be for a monthly review to show the relevance and quality of links you have and the different type of links, it may be for a sales pitch showing anchor text variations or to illustrate why a website isn’t ranking or you may want to look for patterns in data.

The purpose of this post is to show you a number of ways in which links can be visualized I’ll link to resources of where I first heard of those methods or sources from websites and I’m sure there will be many more and some might be very similar but here we go 16 ways to visualize link data.

The majority of these visualizations require data from a link database such as:

I’m sure there are more but here’s 16 ways to visualize your link data.

1)    Link Profile – Open Site Explorer

Patrick Altoft of Branded3 created a spread sheet and pivot table chart from data downloaded from Open Site explorer http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/using-pivot-charts-to-visually-analyse-competitor-link-profiles/

Basically to visualise a link Profile; he downloaded the data and chose domain / page authority on one axis against the count of links to produce the following:

2)    Link Profile – Majestic SEO

You can do the same with Majestic SEO data but create the visual as a bar chart instead of area graph. This is part of what you see if you use Analytics SEO; this time count of domains / links against AC Rank.

3)    Categorizing Links

Next Richard Baxter created an excel sheet to quickly categorize your links. (https://seogadget.co.uk/categorising-your-links/) The sheet does a look up on the most popular directories, panda winners and losers and pushes out the charts of how your site fairs.

This sheet is a good quick visualization but doesn’t have enough data to be that accurate but we liked it anyway and I’m sure Richard will have a more extensive version he uses in house.

4)    Anchor Text Variations

Now you can pull link data from a lot of different sources i.e.

  • Majestic SEO
  • Open Site Explorer
  • Ahrefs
  • Search Metrics
  • Bing Webmaster tools

Once you’ve downloaded the data into excel simply pivot the information by anchor text look at top ten is always easier.

5)    Anchor Text Variations pt2

I’ve often seen anchor text visualised by a tag cloud to indicate the most prominent anchor text by weight and size of the words in the tag cloud. You can use a few website such as:

6)    Brand Profile

To carry out this it requires manual manipulation of the link data, the simplest and quickest way to do this is to filter your anchor text by branded keywords and then various miscellaneous keywords, I find this a quite good visualisation to look at how a site has been pushing the branded side of links.

7)    Type of Links

If you haven’t ever used www.linkdetective.com then try it out, it spiders the links you upload and can display the type of links (In General); a lot of this is based on position but I like it for a quick overview.

8)    Link Types pt. 2

Occasional it is useful to see the type of links you have pointing to your website such as, text links, images, redirects etc, again use the data you have in excel from OSE or similar and look at how your site is linked to.

9)    Link Types pt. 3

If I’ve gone in depth into a websites links and the competitors I will often manually review the type of links (I do personally have a good look up Excel document so I can do this far more quickly) however I find this very useful to diagnose the type of links someone has in terms of:

  • Directories
  • Articles
  • Press releases
  • Footer links
  • Etc.

Linkdex has a similar tool which is automatic to give you this kind of spread; not as accurate as manual manipulation but far more quicker.

10)   Link Count over time

This method of link count I have seen used in destructive ways before, whereby SEO companies have advised business that they have lost links as appose to what new links have been found, but its always useful to have a quick look at how your competitors are doing in terms of link velocity. You can determine when the links were built, just when they were picked up from majestic or ahrefs but its a nice overview.

Majestic SEO (Backlinks reviewed non-cumulative)

Ahrefs (Backlink count)

11)  Trust Flow

If you not aware of Majestic SEO trust and citation flow update, then you should check it out;

  • I’ve tested this against sites which have received “Unnatural links warnings” in Google Webmaster tools and have found some correspondences.
  • The graph itself shows the quality and trust of your link profile.

12)   Links by Top Level Domain:

You can use an export from Majestic, Open site explorer or ahrefs will do this automatically.

13)  No follow v Do follow links

Again simple enough to produce from any of the main link index’s you can take that data in excel or via some coding and produce your follow / no follow percentage.

14) Links Map (Google fusion)

If you had chance to read Mark Cianfrani post on SEER Interactive I think it gives a good visual example on how to use Google’s Fusion Tables to produce link visualizations such as below:

15) Server IP Address (Class C)

I find it occasional useful to look at if the links are from the same servers or class C Ip address, using a tool such as Net Peak Checker allows you to automate the look up information and then download to excel for the visualization

The table below shows the top 10 Class C IP addresses, this looks fairly natural in terms of there is no great number of links from one Class C IP address.

16) Linking Page Language

Again you can use Net Peak checker to look up the language of the pages linking to your website, export to excel and visualise.


Back link visualization can have a number of uses so hopefully you can make use of some of the methods I’ve created or curated from other industry specialists, if you have any other visualizations please add a comment below and love to see them.