T Ahrefs Tutorials :: How to perform link analysis with Site Explorer

14 Jan '13 | by Daria Kizilova | Site Explorer

Link analysis is an important part of site assessment, either your own or competitor’s. In this post we will analyze outbound and internal links. Outbound links are links on your site which refer to other sites, they go beyond the borders of your site. Internal links are links which point to another page of your site, i.e. they refer to some place within your site.

Where to find information on outbound and internal links?

Enter the domain or URL you would like to explore. It is possible to study the exact page URL, domain with subdomains or domain without subdomains – just state your preferences under the query line.

link analysis

After you have done this, proceed to the Linked Domains tab. There you will find a table consisted of the following columns:

link analysis

Domain Rank – Ahrefs Domain Rank, which rates domains on the base of their backlinks number and quality. Ahrefs has an extensive base of actual links which allows it to create its own index for sites ranking.

Alexa Rank - a popular rating tool for site’s traffic ranking; the rule of thumb here is "The lower Alex Rank the more traffic a site receives".

Links count - an overall number of links a certain domain receives from your site. For example, in the table shown above the site contains 2,501 links to Facebook.

Domain – the domain name your site refers to. In most of cases, in the first place you will find the site which is being studied. What does it mean? It simply shows that this is a number of internal links of your site.

Internal links analysis

As we mentioned earlier, internal links play an essential role in the site promotion. First of all, elaborately placed internal links help search engines easily go from one page to other and crawl the maximum pages of the certain site. Secondly, a well-built system of hyperlinks helps site’s pages gain more “weight” in the eyes of search engines and thus be ranked higher.

link analysis

To analyze internal links of your or competitor’s site find a row with its domain name in the table of the Linked Domain tab. Use an expandable option to view a full list of referring URLs and linked pages. Namely you will find there next type of information:

link analysis

  1. URL of the page which contains an internal link. If you click the URL, you will be able to view this page in a separate browser tab.
  2. By clicking the icon you may quickly switch to referring domains study of this particular page.
  3. Number of internal and external links a definite page contains. A good SEO practice suggests a reasonable number of both. For instance, for internal links it is better not to go beyond 75-100 per page.
  4. A link anchor placed on the given page. It should be noted, that while presence of your site’s keywords at the wording of the internal links are welcome, the overuse of them is bad practice and may lead to search engines penalties.
  5. URL of the internal link. Again, you can easily view the linked page by clicking its URL.
  6. Click the icon, if you want to know what external pages refer to this particular linked page.

Among other data you will be able to find here page size, date on which this page has been crawled by Ahrefs and type of the link. There are many types of links, and they may come in different formats. The underlying principle here is to make the links search-engine-friendly and user-friendly. Most appreciated will be text links in html format.

link analysis

Outbound links analysis

Outbound links are also an integral part of SEO strategy. It is because search engines weigh a number of factors while evaluating your site or page. And one of the factors, that tell search engines how relevant your content to the specific search term, is what kind of web sources your site links to. If they are authoritative sources that match your site specialization, it will improve relevance of your site and uplift it in the search results.

Begin your study with the quick scan of the list of domains your own or competitor’s site has links to. You will find this information in the last column of the table of the Linked Domains tab. All domains on the list, except one which is being analyzed, will be domains containing outbound links from your own or competitor’s site.

link analysis

In case you are studying your competitor, only a glance at this list will give you a picture of level of your competitor’s interaction with social networks and top resources he is referring to. Please mind, that very often solid position of social networks on this list just means a lot of site’s pages contain social media buttons. You can also click an icon placed near each domain name to view its referring domains.

link analysis

As in previous case, use the expandable option to access more information on outbound links. There you will find the same data as for the internal links:

link analysis

  1. URL of the referring page;
  2. An icon which will take to the External tab of the Site Explorer to view external inbound (coming from other sites) links to the particular page;
  3. Page size;
  4. Internal and external links proportion. A number of outbound links is a disputable question, because it is been thought that outbound links may take some traffic away from your site. But think of other side of a coin: by providing your site visitors with valuable and useful links you can get their trust and recognition, which in turn will make them come back to your site again and again;
  5. URL of the linked page. By clicking this URL you can view the page itself. This is helpful when you want to check whether the link is working or dead;
  6. Link anchor. The anchored links can tell a lot about your competitor’s strategy or help improve your own site. For example, search engines pay attention to anchored texts, so overflowing of exact-match keywords in the anchored texts may bring your site ranking down. To avoid this, make sure to use a certain number of “natural” anchor phrases, such as are shown in our example;
  7. An icon to view external inbound links of the page;
  8. Link type;
  9. Date when the page was crawled. Ahrefs has its own crawler which allows it to regularly update massive amount of information.

Note, that when you use an expandable option you don’t see a full list of URLs. In case you would like to view more referring pages of the particular domain, you need to click the button “More”.

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How to sort data by link type?

At the top of the Linked Domains tab you will find a number of filters which can be used to filter the pages by the type of the link they contain.

link analysis

Sidewide vs NotSidewide: Sidewide is a type of link which is placed all over the website, you can find it on every page, most often in the footer or header, such type of links affect the site ranking. NotSidewide link is a single link on one certain page.

Text, Frame, Form, Redirect: Text link is a link with anchored text, and as we said earlier, it is the most widespread type of link. Frame and Form links make up the minority of link popularity, while Redirect links take users to some other URLs than initial.

DoFollow vs NoFollow: make your links Dofollow if you want search robots crawl them and add to their index. There are some links which you don’t want to be read by search engines and taken into account while evaluating your page rankings, for such cases use NoFollow type of links.

link analysis

Image vs NotImage: Image links are links which send you to another page when you click them, NotImage links are all other types of links.

Gov and Edu: stands for links to government and educational domains respectively. Why should it be important? If you want your site to be a valuable source of certain information, you should refer to some authority sites which talk about the same subject. Government and educational institutions are a good example of that.

How to filter data by the TLDs?

Top referring domains (TLDs) you can easily define by the URL part, which goes after the final period and before the slash (for example: are .com, .org, .net, .fr, .de.) Why it is useful to sort data by the type of TLD is because there are TLDs assigned to different types of institutions (government, educational, and so on) and there are TLDs assigned to certain countries. So this way you can see, for example, how many domains from specific country your competitor refers to.

link analysis

Click any section on TLD panel to receive a list of linked domains sorted by the type of the top-level domains. Please bear in mind, that you can enlarge this list to view all the TLD types which are being linked by the given site.

Don’t forget to save the data

After you are done with your study, remember to save the results. If instead of full list of URLs you need only a part of it, you can do it by exporting the piece of information you need into suitable file format.

link analysis

Let’s summarize:

  1. In the Linked Domains tab of Site Explorer you can find comprehensive actual data on outbound and internal links.
  2. In the table you can see a full list of Linked Domains ranked by the total links count.
  3. If you use an expandable option, you can view for each domain a list of linked pages, link anchors, types of link, etc.
  4. You can sort out the data by the link type or type of top-level referring domain.
  5. All the data can be exported into convenient file format.

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