Entering into a new year there are loads of changes that have happened over the past few years that have completely changed the way that many people are doing their search engine optimisation, everything from the almost default addition of rel canonical tags down to keeping a clean house when it comes to their backlink profile and that has created a market for new and updated tools to answer the distress calls of many of us.
With a very real threat of manual and algorithmic penalisations, search engine fluctuations and almost mystical happenings now plaguing the online world, the need to ensure that you are keeping ahead of your competitors is significantly higher than it has ever been before and as a digital agency, that is what we are all about.
In previous years there have been tremors that have shook the industry but never before have search engines like Google had website owners and search engine marketers rushing about to ensure that all operations are functioning as they are intended, especially to the degree that you can see in the marketplace today, it feels like there is simply no release from the pressure to conform with the Google way of thinking.
With increased risk of penalisation being almost a given if your site is not on point, the need to monitor, maintain and grow your website has become more vital than ever before and one of the hardest elements of that is something that you don't have complete control over, your backlink profile.
Automatic updates via the Google Penguin algorithm crawling over your site periodically and digging deeper than ever before for anything that would trigger suspicion that your site is not playing by the rules makes the monitoring and housekeeping of your link profile as important as continuing to produce useful, user friendly information and content but with very little control over what websites link into yours and how they do so, what can you do in order to take control?
You would have to be living under a non-SEO news allowing rock if you were unaware that there was software that has been developed for aiding you in your mission to keep a clean and compliant backlink profile, especially if usually you feel that you keep on top of the what, when and how of the pulse of the market as further alterations come into force almost every day.
So with that in mind, we snapped at the chance to be able to get to grips with one of the leading backlink analysis tools that has created such a strong presence within the SEO tools marketplace, LinkRisk.com.
Having only previously sampled the tool in the Beta release stages, taking on the chance to be able to see the full release in action, including the large number of additions and upgrades that the software had implemented over the past few months, I was excited to see just how much the tool was going to feature in my approach to conquering the painful and time consuming practise of backlink profile analysis and maintenance.
Logging into the software I was quickly greeted with an array of options, asking whether I was looking to audit my profile, conduct outreach or investigate something further, a completely different finding to the previous visit that I had experienced with the tool while it was still being created and programmed into the frontrunner tool that many conceive LinkRisk.com to be.
After initially wondering where I was going to start, I opted to take an audit of DavidNaylor.co.uk, the usual test subject that I like to use on any new tool that I am looking at, whether it be for assessing link profiles or simply running header checks and looking for dead links.
After realising that to get a full representation of how I would best use the tool, I quickly and easily updated my account information to include the details and permissions to allow LinkRisk to be able to access data from third party tools that are already part of our working practise on a daily basis; Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs.com and MajesticSEO.com.
Linking those permissions with the tool were simple and clearly the guys behind LinkRisk have been thinking long and hard about the usability of their tool, offering a quick and easy authorisation process that was clearly explained and followed, even by me, who normally prefers to spend half a day figuring things out myself before reverting back to the help guides to figure out where I went wrong!
Creating the audit report request was simple, within a matter of minutes I had all of the data that it requested and selected the option for data to be pooled from Google Webmaster Tools, allowing the tool to access the account and pull the backlinks that Google are showing us that they know about that are pointing into the site.
Hitting the submit button, I was greeted with a message that jumped up on my screen and told me that the report would be scheduled and ran as soon as the LinkRisk team had verified the request, something that lead me to question the reason for this with the guys behind the software, more so that I understood how it was working than me being impatient as the message clearly told me that they would email me when the report was created and ready for me to deep dive into.
Taking the chance to be able to break off from the backlink analysis for a few moments, I spoke with Paul and was told that the reason for the delay was that not only was the tool about to assess the links that I had requested via Google Webmaster Tools but it was going to crawl each and every one of those links and obtain further information for me! Wow, I was not expecting that!
Within the time it took me to walk across the Bronco office, grab a coffee and make my way back to my desk, the report was ready and the email notification was sitting there in my inbox, taunting me to log in and check out just how awesome it is…
Jumping into action, I promptly headed to check out the report that the software had created and was immediately greeted with this screen:
Looking at the colour wheel on the right that shows the breakdown of the categories that the software uses, I was glad to see that 63.12% of links within the profile were deemed to be natural, with only 4.25% of the profile found to be added into the ‘Bad Links' category.
Further down the page there was a table that displayed the links that the dataset from Webmaster Tools had found and true to their word, LinkRisk had taken the insight into the links to a whole new level, made possible by their crawl of the links to obtain more data about the links than you would have been able to find based on the WMT data alone:
Along with the information that they have pulled via their own crawling of the backlinks found within the information box symbol on the righthand side of the table, there was valuable information contained directly within the table itself, such as whether the link was active or not as well as the status code of the page on which the link to the site was hosted, allowing me to see whether domains or pages specifically were no longer resolving.
As with many automated software tools, I always like to manually check the links that have been found to ensure that as a human, I agree with the analysis and categorisation that the tool had made, something which was made a whole lot easier with the inclusion of the filter link element found on the left side of the link table.
This section of the table allowed me to either; agree, disagree or escalate the link for further investigation at a later point, meaning that I was not restricted to taking what the algorithms that the software uses determined for me.
So what did I think about the new, empowered LinkRisk.com?
As some of you who follow my articles on Dave's blog will know, I often get the chance to sink my teeth into some of the best SEO tools on the market and get set loose on them to see what all of the buzz is all about and this one is no different.
Highly recommended by many, LinkRisk.com was simply a shell on my first visit to the software all those months ago and the development work and fine tuning that has been placed into the tool is nothing short of brilliant, making the tool lightyears ahead of where it was previously.
Although sceptical towards automated software usually, LinkRisk.com really did open my eyes with the indepth, attention to detail as well as the ease of use which can be found both within the software itself and during the process that it takes to hook the software up to Ahrefs, MajesticSEO and Webmaster Tools.
A review of the links categorisation showed that the software seemed to get the ‘Good' and ‘Bad' links right in almost 99% of the cases while the suspicious links were mixed and I would recommend that you take the time to work your way through them to make your own decision on those.
Overall the tool is a great starting point for any backlink analysis and risk assessment from the experience that I had and does so much more than simply set the categories for you, including the crawling and data sourcing about each of the links it is able to pull from your chosen link source.