Penguin 4 Update & Manipulated Domain Statistics
When Google was founded, PageRank was the initial algorithm that was used to rank pages, which did so by considering the number of backlinks (incoming links to your site).
However, over time, the algorithm used by Google to rank search results has evolved, and the current algorithm, which since today's Penguin 4 update, is now subject to rolling updates, takes into consideration over 200 factors when ranking pages.
As a result, the focus has shifted away from a simple count-up of incoming links to other factors such as keywords, link anchor text, content quality and spam signals when ranking web pages in the Google search engine results pages..
To fill up the void left by shifting the emphasis from PageRank, a number of SEO services have come up and started offering various metrics for measuring the SEO values of web pages and domains. In the past few years, these metrics have become very popular, as they provide important information that tell you if your SEO strategies are working or not.
For some website owners, this is a goldmine that has helped to simplify the task of search engine optimisation. However, when you take a deeper look into the values provided, you will get a shocking revelation; some of the SEO metrics are highly inaccurate, and they are therefore not a reliable method of measuring the SEO value of your website.
What are SEO metrics?
To fully understand why metrics are not the perfect measure of SEO value, you must first understand how they work. Basically, there are two types of SEO metrics you will come across: micro metrics and macro metrics.
Micro metrics are the metrics used to measure the SEO value of a specific URL (page of a website). They include:
- Trust Flow – Trust Flow is a metric used to measure how trustworthy a URL is by looking into the quality of the incoming links the URL has received. It is offered by the SEO company, Majestic
- Citation Flow – Citation Flow is another Majestic metric, which is used to measure the influence of a URL by looking into the number of backlinks received. Unlike Trust Flow, citation flow does not take into consideration the quality of the links received; it only considers the quantity
- Page Authority – Page Authority is a metric from SEO company Moz, which predicts how a URL will rank on search engines. The metric has a scale of 0 to 100, with a higher scale indicating that the URL will rank highly on search engines and vice versa. It works by using an algorithm that takes into account various factors such as the backlinks received, and the relevance of information on a web page.
- PageRank – PageRank is a Google metric that is used to determine the importance of URL based on the number, as well as the quality of backlinks receive.
Macro metrics are the SEO metrics that are used to measure the SEO value of a domain (the entire website). Simply said, they are a summation of the micro metrics of all the URLs on a website. They include:
- Trust Flow from Majestic
- Citation Flow, also from Majestic
- PageRank from Google
- Domain Authority from Moz – Domain Authority works in the same way as Page Authority, with the only difference being that it predicts how well a domain will rank on search engines
NOTE: Just like with Domain Authority, when Trust Flow (TF), Citation Flow (CF) and PageRank (PR) are used as domain metrics, they provide the SEO value of an entire domain and not a URL.
Why are domain metrics not reliable?
The above metrics can be quite useful when you are measuring the SEO value of your URLs or domain. However, they are prone to a number of challenges, which makes them less effective measures of SEO quality. Below is a look at some of the problems of using these metrics:
1. The algorithms used are not always perfect
One of the main reasons why SEO metrics are not a perfect measure of SEO value is the algorithms used by those metrics. Most of the companies that offer these metrics only use basic algorithms, which are designed to accommodate all URLs. The problem with this is that the algorithms are not able to provide accurate numbers, and in some cases, the numbers provided are completely flawed.
For example, when using Majestic’s Trust Flow, you might find that some high quality, authoritative backlinks have been assigned lower values, while some spam backlinks have been assigned higher values. Similar scenarios also occur with PageRank, where some spam links are able to pass the algorithm without being detected.
2. Some metrics companies lack the knowledge or resources to accurately determine SEO value
Another reason why SEO metrics are not the best way of measuring the SEO success of your website is because some of the companies lack the know-how to accurately measure the SEO value. Some of the companies are just small to mid-sized startups without the necessary resources or manpower to create sophisticated algorithms capable of measuring SEO value. Other companies are also not familiar with some of the authority backlinks, especially the foreign ones, and therefore, they are not be able to accurately determine how influential some of the incoming links are. The end result of this are figures that paint a false picture of the SEO value of your website.
3. Macro metrics are biased sometimes
In the case of macro metrics, the figures provided are derived from micro metrics, and as already seen, these are not usually accurate. Therefore, when the micro metric figures are carried on to the macro metrics, the values provided will already be biased. The metrics used to measure the SEO value of domains are also affected by unnatural links, for example, spam backlinks found on comments sections or those inside auto-generated scripts). When these unnatural links are factored in, they provide inaccurate SEO value.
4. The metric systems are automated, and thus easy to manipulate
Another problem with SEO metrics is that they use automated algorithms, which most of the time, only consider the quantity and not the quality of the links received. As a result, they are not able to take into considerations important factors such as the quality of the links, which can only be determined by a human being. Therefore, some people take advantage of this flaw to manipulate the domain metrics, providing you with a false SEO value of your website. The problem with this is that search engine algorithms are highly sophisticated, and can be able to detect spamming and other forms of domain metrics manipulation. Therefore, while the SEO metrics might tell you that your website will rank highly on Google, you might be surprised to find that it ranked very low on Google’s search results.
5. Some of the numbers provided are not up-to-date
Another problem with SEO metrics is that most of the time, they are usually not up-to-date, and thus the values provided are sometimes not an accurate reflection of the current SEO success of your website. Therefore, this might lead you to believe that your SEO strategies are working when they are not.
Why you should focus on getting quality backlinks
From the information above, it is quite clear that domain metrics are not a perfect measure of SEO value of your website. Therefore, when you are launching a search engine optimisation campaign, you should focus more on getting ranking power from incoming links, as opposed to using SEO metrics. Below is a look at how important incoming links can be for your website.
1. Backlinks are one of the main factors used by Google’s search algorithm
The focus might have shifted away from backlinks when optimising websites for search engines, but they still remain one of the most important SEO factors. According to Google, links are one of the most important signals used by Hummingbird, the company’s current search engine algorithm. Focusing your SEO strategies to gaining more quality incoming links will therefore increase your chances of being ranked highly in Google’s search results.
2. Backlinks increases the relevance of your website
When you enter a keyword or key phrase in Google’s search box, the results displayed are ranked depending on how relevant the website is to the keyword or phrase. The relevance is determined by using a number of factors, with the main one being the quality of incoming links received from other websites. The quality of backlinks is awarded by considering referring domains, where links from authority domains will be considered to be more powerful. As a result, when Google’s search algorithm is scanning your website, it will view the backlinks from authority domains as a sign of your website’s authority and relevance, thus increasing the chances of it being ranked highly.
URL and domain metrics can provide you with important SEO information such as the number of backlinks received, how relevant your backlinks are, and if your SEO strategies are making any progress. However, due the fact that they are very easy to manipulate, the metrics are not a perfect measure of SEO value, especially when they are used alone.
Therefore, when looking to optimise your website for search engines, you should, as Google keeps on telling us, focus on getting more incoming links from quality and authoritative domains, which will increase the relevance of your website, making it more likely to be ranked high on Google’s search results.