July 24, 2013 - 3 comments

From Australia to backlink profile visualisation: it’s been a busy few months for Emir!

My name’s Emir and I have worked in search for over three years. I’ve got experience in on-page and off-page search and content marketing too. As this is my first Bloom post, it’s only fitting to let you know a bit about myself in true Bloom tradition before we delve into the heady world of backlink profile visualisation!

At the beginning of this year I stepped away from Google Analytics and a glistening computer screen and took a short career break to fulfill a lifelong desire to backpack around Australia.

Having said my goodbyes to colleagues at my previous agency, family and friends, I hopped on a plane and 24 hours later I found myself in front of the iconic Sydney Opera house and the magnificent Harbour Bridge. For the next two and a half months I travelled from Sydney to Cairns in a camper van with two good friends. To say I enjoyed every minute of it is an understatement – driving a 4×4 on Fraser Island or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef are memories that I will never forget.

Eventually my trip had to come to an end and the heady world of digital marketing was calling my name again. At first, I was tempted to go back to a role at my previous agency but I’m not a massive fan of safe and easy options! Instead, I jumped at the chance when I found out about an opportunity to join Bloom. I was invited in to have a chat and then asked back a couple of days later to present a case study – and as I am writing my first post for Bloom I must have done alright!

As I’m sure you can imagine, starting a new job whilst re-adjusting to normality and dealing with jet-lag was a struggle, but the great thing about Bloom is the people – they were so understanding and eased me back into it slowly!

Having said that, I sure do know how to pick my moments because shortly after I started at Bloom, Google up-dated its algorithms during Penguin 2.0. Everyone in the industry will know what this meant: all hands on deck to analyse each of our clients’ backlink profiles, trying to remove or disavow as many historic low quality links as possible before rankings and visibility plummeted. It was a far cry from the sunbathing on Bondi beach that I was doing just a few weeks before!

However, luckily for us, Bloom had a trick up its sleeve that made the backlink audit process work a lot smarter. You might have seen my colleagues talk about Whisper on our website before – an earned media planning tool that Bloom’s insight and analysis department have developed in association with the universities of Oxford, Strathclyde and Reading to visualise the emotions and affinities of communities engaged in conversations on social media. There’s a really clever bit of maths that sits behind this tool that we soon realised could help us to visualise our clients’ backlink profiles too.

To give you a flavour of what this meant– previously, I used all of the major SEO tools, e.g. www.opensiteexplorer.com , www.majesticseo.com, http://www.linkresearchtools.com, https://ahrefs.com/, to manually produce a true representation of a client’s profile.  Whisper enabled us to automatically visualise this data in a way that’s client friendly and easy to understand, also giving us an idea of what a profile would look like after the full backlink audit had been implemented.

As the diagram below shows, we were easily able to colour code each domain and link during the audit. In this example (which we produced for one of our newest clients), red meant disavow, yellow meant maybe disavow and green showed the links to be kept. The profile was a sea of red, as you can see! It’s also visibly evident in the diagram the amount of bad neighbourhood clusters this profile had. As a result, we recommended the removal of roughly 85 to 90% of their profile.

negative backlink profile

By visualising what our client’s profile looked like, we were also able to see what the profile would look like after the audit was implemented. Green, clean, and no naughty clusters!

I was so impressed by Whisper’s visualisation that I decided to do one just for fun for www.moz.com (you can thank me later for the freebie, Rand Fishkin!). Moz.com has recently rebranded from SEOmoz and as a result have 301’d all of their quality links. Although this is just a snapshot of their profile (if we were to do a fresh and historic scrape, we would probably be looking at many thousands of domains and millions of links), but the visualisation still shows 996 unique domains and 13517 URLs from data captured by Ahrefs.

The visualisation is a perfect example of what a good content marketing strategy looks like in practice. There are a large amount of unique domains linking to the homepage and a lack of neighbourhoods of bad link clusters. The outer shoots show how one article from the blog can generate a plethora of unique domains that link back to the article, giving their vote of confidence to moz.com’s content and increasing their social footprint. This is exactly what we want to achieve with our clients – quality content that is linked and shared naturally by as many people as possible.

I for one am really excited that we can visualise a profile in this manner. It means that we can compress a lot of vital information into a single slide and prove the real value of a full back-link audit and excellent content marketing. Supported by Bloom’s insight team, it really is something very unique!