It’s a well-known fact that the SEO world keeps changing and updating in a rapid pace and things which seem to be set in stone can in fact turn obsolete in a matter of a few year or even months. When MajesticSEO released their new flow metrics about a year ago, it was time for the good old Page rank to step aside and make way for a better and more accurate indication for a site’s authority.
Before I start speaking about the reason for this, I’ll start with a short overview on these metrics for those of you who have been living in a cave for the past year, or are simply new to SEO.
What does Trust and Citation flows mean?
Based on an indexing algorithm they’ve developed, plus a comprehensive manual crawl on a substantial number of sites, MajesticSEO has created two flow metrics – Trust and Citation. Every indexed link to a site is represented by the number of sites linking to it (Citation flow) and the overall value of these links (Trust flow). The value is determined by a long chain of sites linking and their trust flow.
This chain goes all the way up to a list of manually picked authority sites like the BBC or Wikipedia. You might actually be able to better understand it by visualizing it as a pyramid of sites with the top part containing the highest authority sites and the bottom part containing the lowest. The closer you are to the top of the pyramid and/or the more links you have from sites which are located higher on that pyramid, the higher your trust flow is. The base assumption behind this is that authority sites tend to link to other authority sites.
Other than the numerical representation of these metrics, there’s also a graphical representation of them. Each indexed link is represented as a dot on a graph and together they give us a clear picture of the link profile of any given site.
To make things a little clearer and to start our real discussion here, which is – Trust flow vs Page rank, I’ve picked two PR 6 sites and extracted their link profile – The left one belongs to SEJ the right one belongs to themejoomla.com. As you can see, although both have the same PR; their link profile is far from being identical.
Why Trust and Citation gives you a better reading of a site’s authority?
Prior to having Majestic’s metrics, our best tool to measure a site’s worth was its Page rank and the Moz domain rank. I’m not going to get into that last one, since it’s a whole topic on its own. Let’s focus on the Page rank, or in short – PR. It used to be that we’d use the PR of a site to determine things like:
- How a site is valued by Google – if it’s considered an authority
- The worth of a link from a site
- BI – updates we should do in our onsite and offsite optimization compared to our competitors
Little we knew that PR did not necessarily have a direct correlation to all of these characterizations. What we did know for sure was that the authority of a site is determined by the number and quality of sites linking to it. Over the years we’ve used tools like – Yahoo explorer, SEOMoz, Google webmaster tools etc. to get a list and total number of incoming links to a site. However, analyzing each and every one of these linking sites was an impossible task. We’ve learned to rely on absolute numbers and, of course, PR.
What Majestic flows gave us was a simple way to understand the value of each one of these links. Now we can make the same analysis we used to do with Page rank and total number of links, but in a more accurate and systematical manner.
How can we use flow metrics for our advantage?
At this point in time, and I emphasize this because we already know things can change fast when it comes to SEO, examining these metrics is the best way for us to:
- Analyze our site’s link profile – current and its progress over time
- BI – Compare ourselves to competitors
- Approaching other sites for the purpose of a link credit
- Predicting rank changes
What rank’s got to do with it?
When I started using these flows, I was surprised to find out that there’s a high correlation between a ranked keyword of a site and its link profile. Once I figured that out, it was fairly easy to create a link profile plan for sites I’ve promoted, to set specific goals and to analyze their progress. For example, if my goal was to reach one of the top 5 positions for a word, all I needed to do was:
- Check the top 5 ranked domains for that word
- Check their link profile and calculate their flow metrics averages.
- Set flow metrics goals for my sites – comparing its link profile to the link profile of its competitors.
After testing this on several words and sites, I can tell you that this system works! I could predict a rank of a word for a site by how close I got to the metrics goals I’ve set for it. Moreover, I could use the link profile to predict a rank change. When I’ve noticed a significant drop in trust flow, there was also a drop in rank.
This could never have been done by relying on Page rank. There are of course many other great uses for these metrics, but I believe I’ve already made my point here. It should now be obvious to you that the days of Page rank are well behind us and from now on you’ll be wise to use trust flow instead.
image credit: Shutterstock
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!