Tools

SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

Last week SEOmoz announced the launch of their new backlink checking tool Linkscape and I felt I couldn’t help (briefly) reviewing it at our (already traditional) SEJ toolbox series. So…

What’s so unique about the tool?

  1. It has its own index (currently 30 billion pages; updated every 25 days);
  2. It introduces the array of new SEO metrics giving you the opportunity to take a closer look at your (competitor’s) link profile and even get an idea of possible search algorithm:
    1. Internal and external link counts (juice-passing links to the page);
    2. MozRank (mR) – 10-point measure of global query-independent link authority or popularity;
    3. External mozRank;
    4. Domain-Level mozRank (DmR);
    5. Domain Juice (DJ) – the sum of mozRanks for all URLs in a domain;
    6. External Domain Juice;
    7. MozTrust (mT) – see also my recent post on Trust vs Authority.


Great features:

  • compare pages and domains side-by-side;
  • plenty of sorting and filtering options for each report;
  • export to CSV;
  • save reviews for further reference;
  • anchor text search within the backlink results;
  • see 301s and 302s, shared/same IP blocks, pages with NoIndex meta tag; links from noscript; image links, etc

linkscape dashboard SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

Reports:

  • Basic / free report includes domain and URL backlink data overview based on the above metrics:

linkscape basic SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

  • Advanced report:
    • Dashboard contains the link data overview; 5 most powerful pages linking in (based on the metrics) and 5 most common anchor texts;
    • “Links to URL” / “Links to Domain” lists bakclinks in order of importance. Plus it gives important data for each linking page and domain (its mozRank, mozTrust and estimated link juice passed);
    • “URL anchor text” / “Domain anchor text” lists most frequent (important) external anchor texts. Of course, you can click on each one and get the list of linking pages that use it. Note: you can sort the list and see your most powerful anchor text (the one that passes “most mozRank”).

linkscape anchor SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

Rates:

  • the basic report is free;
  • SEOmoz PRO members ($79/month) are given 20 credits (1 credit = 1 advanced report); the credits will be renewed regularly, I guess.

You can have a look at both positive comments and critique at the Linkscape feedback post and Sphinn.

More on backlink checking:

(Please see SEJ tool review disclosure.)

 SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest.com.
 SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

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23 thoughts on “SEOmoz Linkscape : New Backlink Checking Tool Reviewed

  1. Rand tends to put way too much emphasis on the value of links in search engine optimization and this tool reflects his personal philosophy in that respect.

    It offers some unique information compared to what you’ll get from the major search engines and people who just absolutely have to know everything possible (no matter how trivial and useless the information may be) about links will undoubtedly fall in love with this tool.

    Here are the things it will NEVER do for SEOs:

    1) Tell you which links Google knows about
    2) Tell you which links Google allows to pass value
    3) Tell you which links Yahoo! knows about
    4) Tell you which links Yahoo! allows to pass credit
    5) Tell you which links Microsoft knows about
    6) Tell you which links Microsoft allows to pass credit

    See the pattern? Linkscape can only inform SEOs about what Linkscape knows.

    There is some concern in the SEO community over Linkscape’s invasive behavior. Rand has promised to provide a user-agent that people can use to block Linkscape from their sites, and I have no doubt many SEOs will use that and other measures to ensure that Linkscape doesn’t reveal competitive information (Majestic SEO offers a similar tool that people may want to block).

    All that said, Linkscape probably offers better insight into which sites would be good to develop linking relationships TO and FROM than any other tool. At least you can get an idea of where the links are going.

    But the kind of research you would have to do to take advantage of this data to build probabilistic models is not only beyond most SEOs, it’s simply not cost-effective.

    SEOs should be careful to not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by a glut of data.

  2. Very good review Michael. A nice and unbiased review of the “real” tool this is. Did I miss the user-agent of the crawler being posted somewhere? We all know this tool is one person’s opinion of SEO. We all also know what one person’s opinion of SEO really means. It almost means nothing as no one in the industry knows what Google is thinking. Besides, many of us don’t think links are be all end all.

    Ann; this reads like an advertisement for the tool. You should have wrote about all the cons of it as well in order to make your post more credible.

  3. @Doug, please! If my opinion is not similar to yours, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I found no cons – sorry. I did not expect the tool (like any other tools) to tell me what “Google really thinks” :)

    I did link to posts (and also Sphinn) and did say to check them for some critique (by the way, I did express my opinion as for blocking the tool with Robots.txt at Youmoz post I linked to).

    Also comments are open to mention any “cons” (which I failed to find).

    I respect your opinion and appreciate your comments but try to be fair: positive review doesn’t mean someone paid for it :)

  4. I didn’t say your review was wrong at all. I said it lacked the cons. Clearly there are cons and not just pros. Linking to other places is nice and all, but you should have pointed out the obvious cons to the tool when writing a “review” means that you should do so. You already knew what many others are saying, so that should have been included in your “review”. I also did not say your review was paid for either. I did say it reads like an advertisement for all the reasons I stated.

    Most reviews I read have both the pros and the cons. That’s what makes them reviews.

  5. @Doug, this review was my personal opinion and I linked to other reviews for other (different) opinions.

    Which cons do you mean btw? I never came across one worth mentioning here? Can you help me out?

  6. Yes; I know it’s your opinion, but you labeled it as a review. Reviews should have both known pros and cons. Cons? You know of quite a few with one major con being that no user-agent was disclosed upfront. That’s a pretty big one don’t ya think? It’s also very telling. As far as I know, no user-agent has been disclosed to date.

    Other cons Michael wrote about as well. Considering we all know that this tool is not Google, what exactly does it show SEO’s in the know? Not much. It’s really only good for those trying to learn, and then only teaching a bunch of stuff about links. It’s also good for those who are obsessed with tool thingies.

    Maybe I should only post when I can praise something. Sorry if I offended you. I just think too many comments made in SEO blogs are the praising variety and not enough of criticism. It’s all a big part of the total problem in this industry.

  7. For what it’s worth, Ann, I felt your article was fine. I’m just in a “warn the SEO community not to expect too much” mode.

    Linkscape offers some unique research capabilities and, if nothing else, it will help satisfy people’s curiosity. But I think there is a place for tools like this as long as they are not too invasive.

    I don’t want people crawling my sites constantly, looking to see who I link to. If they want to know where I link, they can do me the courtesy of actually visiting my sites and looking at the content.

  8. Michael, your comment was great, thank you for commenting my post.

    Doug, I am sorry I didn’t mention what has already been beaten to death. The not-disclosed user-agent has nothing to do with the features of the tool, and the tool has no affiliation to Google, so I don’t see how anyone can suspect that it could show what Google really “thought”.

    We can only guess and the tool is great for the well-grounded analysis. If you have never tried to analyze what’s behind rankings, I can’t imagine how you do SEO overall :)

    So no, the tool is not “only good for those trying to learn” – it’s a helpful diagnostics and research service.

  9. Ann wrote;
    ” If you have never tried to analyze what’s behind rankings, I can’t imagine how you do SEO overall ”

    Yes Ann; maybe I don’t “try” to analyze based on some other SEO’s premise of what is what? I’d rather rely on Google herself actually. No tool will tell me that.

    Ann wrote;
    “The not-disclosed user-agent has nothing to do with the features of the tool”

    Very true, but I thought your review was a review. The non-disclosure has lots to do with the motivation however.

    Ann wrote;
    “and the tool has no affiliation to Google, so I don’t see how anyone can suspect that it could show what Google really “thought””

    Why, totally right. No tool made by SEO’s is going to be affiliated with Google, but isn’t that the point? Some SEO’s opinion about what link is what, etc tells me nothing about what Google thinks what is what. I’d rather rely on my own judgment about a link than rely on what some SEO’s tool wants to tell me.

    I’m not trying to be difficult Ann; but I do feel it’s very important in this industry to tell the other side of things instead of always feeding the frenzy of the few.

  10. “I’d rather rely on Google herself actually. No tool will tell me that.”

    Does Google tell you a lot? :)

    Actually the proper analysis should include everything: what Google says + other points and guesses + your own judgments….

    Only by comparison and considering many points we can do the proper research.

    By simply denying and arguing, you won’t understand much.

  11. Who’s arguing or denying? I’m posting my opinion as well as you are. Why not let your readers decide with all opinions being posted? Sorry if my opinion conflicts with your overall praise of some SEO tool out there. I’ll put it to you this way Ann; considering that I and many others have far more experience in this industry than you and the mozzer put together; I certainly feel that my opinion should be heard as well, right? I certainly respect your opinion as well as the tool’s opinion, …so should you respect mine as well as anyone else who might want to post.

    You state I must not understand much because I’m arguing and denying? I’ve never stated that you don’t understand Ann. I have stated my opinion however.

  12. @Doug, like I said, I respect your opinion and I definitely think your opinion should be heard…

    What I really didn’t like (and was a bit offended, I admit) was that you said I should have listed some cons and that my review looked too promotional. This sounded like I was just praising without much understanding and research behind that.

    So I was trying to state that I wasn’t. And that my praising the tool was honest and I well-grounded (again as I see it).

    Trust me, no matter how much authority there is behind the Moz, if I saw some cons, I would have listed them. But I did think the service was an awesome research tool and it is definitely worth trying.

  13. Just posting to thank Micheal for his comments. I actually enjoyed reading them more than the article itself.

  14. @Doug, thank you so much – somehow I missed that (due to work overload). I’d say the discussion at Sphinn and Rand’s comments also deserve attention:

    http://sphinn.com/story.php?id=79700

    I must say I am at the point that I feel I don’t understand much. This is obviously “SEVERE BREACH OF TRUST” (like Sean put it).

    Despite the fact that I do not support the whole blocking thing, I believe SEOmoz should be more open and also should have considered this before the official launch.

  15. Very right Ann. Good post.

    It’s also very telling that sphinn decided to shut off comments in that thread after ONE day of discussion, and on a weekend at that. It only means those who take the weekend off either have to comment in the original blog thread, or don’t comment at all. It’s very telling considering the close business ties between Rand and Danny Sullivan. It says a whole bunch… none of it good.

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts you and ALL others thought Rand had built this great spider/robot that actually had 30 billion pages, right? You would have been wrong, just like all of us were wrong. The way he went about launching this thing and had his developers out there promoting it, etc and also posting stuff to make all of us think this was the firm’s OWN stuff is extremely deceitful. There is no other way to describe it. And now; although you and others would never block things anyhoo, those of us who would want to block it,….. MANY; cannot do so…… not at all, unless we also block google, yahoo, etc, etc.

    Not good. There is no way he can take it all back and start over again either.

  16. I too thought Ann’s review was fine.

    As for the evasiveness of the tool, how is this any different than AdGooRoo and their ad scrappers for PPC; or ComScore/HitWise that buy ISP data to figure out competitor keywords, PPC v. SEO keywords, downstream and upstream referral traffic?

    Does HitWise provide full disclosure on where they get their data from so we can block it? Ha. Not at all. Ditto with Compete and others. Yet, we’re demanding SEOMoz to disclose their secret sauce?

    So about the competition…Should I be worried? Maybe, but honestly I expect the competitors to be after me. If they are, that means I’m doing my job and will have to keep at it.

    I understand that paranoia but it’s exactly that: paranoia.

    Also, it’s interesting how intense the criticisms of Rand has been given that fact he’s contributed a lot of free information over the past 8-9 years Rand has been in the SEO business.

    The self-righteousness is needless and reminds me of the “OMG WTF crowd” that infects the “wisdom of the crowd” at times: http://tinyurl.com/omg-wtf-crowd

  17. Maybe you did not read the smackdown blog post. The value of the tool was not the issue. The issue was the deceitful ways of seomoz in how they launched and what they stated, and how the presented this new tool. It was deception. They lied. They did so all because of money and the investors. To this day there is no clear way to block this tool either.

    You cannot possibly compare this to something like hitwise, etc. The moz person promotes himself as ethical and a best practices SEO who speaks at ALL conferences and spends big bucks presenting himself as the gawd. That’s a big difference to some silly hitwise. Give me a break. LOL

    What? 8 or 9 years? Now that’s funny. How about since 2004. I’ve been giving to the community for eleven years now, and much for FREE. What do you think the industry would say to me if I had done the exact same thing in the same way seomoz did? I certainly know that answer. Don’t give me the free stuff argument as it doesn’t fly. Besides; this guy has a history of being in the middle of things like this. Check the history.

  18. Okay Ann; Now I want to know exactly what you and others in here think of the seomoz firm?

    http://sphinn.com/story/80142#c56223

    Read his departing comment in his last post. Specifically, find this statement:

    “I do recognize that we are more of this roguish, agressive sort, and I think it’s one of the reasons there’s a lot of hostility. As I said, we’re not changing direction on that now, but we’ll definitely think long and hard about it. Thanks!”

    This tool and firm has turned into no better than your average scraper bots servers all over have to deal with. Two bit scrapers/spammers come to mind.

  19. Doug,
    WTF is your problem. I am about to sign up for SEOMoz and have a feeling they will be one of the best tools out there. I have used many and feel that none deliver as much as they do. Am I wrong? Do you have a better suggestion? better recomendation?

    The way I see it, and I mean this somewhat respectfully and can even understand your point, but it sounds like you are just pissed off that everyone can see your links. I hear you on that as well, the web sucks, everyone can see what you do. But who says you have to be in this? Hard to walk away, I know. I hear you, but dont knock his tool, just stay one step ahead and use it on your competitors as well. Hopefully you will make enough money to live life, although you may not be a billionaire you dream of.