For those of you who don't know, Majestic SEO is the largest commercial Link Intelligence Database in the world. It surveys the internet and has created a map that is used by New Media Specialists, SEOs, Affiliate Managers and online Marketers worldwide and implements a number a services surrounding online prominence; including Link Building, Website Traffic Development, Reputation Management, News Monitoring and Website Traffic Development.
Majestic SEO Marketing Director and all round SEO Mastermind Dixon Jones swung by the Kalexiko Studio so we could ask him a few questions, pick his brains and gain his insight on the future of SEO. The product of this was the following interview (condensed for the ease of the reader) and the sound file of the interview in its entirety. By this point I am sure you are eager to get stuck into the interview, so we won't keep you waiting any longer; Kalexiko HQ present to you; the Dixon Jones interview.
Just for those who aren't familiar with Majestic SEO, could you firstly tell us a bit about the company?
The best way to describe Majestic is that it is a distributed web crawler in it's own right; so like Google it goes round and crawls the Internet, but instead of focusing on all the content on a page Majestic uncovers the meaning of links between pages- particularly the links between two different pages. These links are like the road-map of the internet. You can find out a lot about a web page's place in the world by finding out how all other web pages link to it. So we take that information and we crawl the web, we see all the outbound links, we have about 4 trillion of them, and we invert these outbound links to see the inbound links to every web page.
Majestic SEO has established a lot longer than many other link data analysis tools and therefore one of its benefits is that it has an index of a lot of historic data. What would you say are the key benefits of using Majestic SEO?
Though there seems like there are a lot of Link Data Analysis tools there's not many link data tools where you access can this raw data. The only other place you could really get this raw data was Yahoo Site Explorer and that disappeared well over a year ago. So, there are only three major players for generating the data and most of the other systems are built on those kind of data sets, so there's not a huge number. The reason for this is because a huge infrastructure is required to find this information. Some systems are trying to find this information on the fly, but if you have a large website it is going to take you hours to get this information back and it's not going to be solid. Of course there's Google Webmaster Tools but you can only get information for your own website.
Our competitors have been coming on strong but I think we have the history, our data goes back over five years so we have a huge index. We do updates every day but I think our real strength is our ability to adapt and move forward in a creative way.
We get questions from a lot of our clients enquiring that backlinks and traditional SEO practices don't matter anymore as social signals have taken dominance. Where do you personally see backlinks and their value in the industry? Obviously backlinks have been overly saturated, but in terms of quality links; what are your opinions on their future?
This is dependant on what your definition of a link is. Forgetting SEO for a moment and focussing more on marketing; to do business with anyone they have to know you and to talk to you. If you're going to go out there and do sales marketing, ultimately (your customers) need to talk to you, sign on the dotted line and ultimately buy your product. So you have to generate a relationship. A link is just a relationship. It doesn't matter if it's a HTML link on a 20 year old web page or a link within a Tweet, it still builds relationships between parties or between your web page and another web page.
Any social signal that Google Plus, Bing or a human will pick up on is essentially a link. If there's no link then the only other relationship is the page's authorship and that all builds into the link and what they are an author of. A social signal is just another link in my view; a link is just a business relationship.
I know you're going to ask about Penguin at some point so I will preempt that. A relationship can be a good or bad one and in business; it used to be the case in direct mail, if you put 100,000 letters through every door in a village the inhabitants won't be happy, similarly if you put 100,000 emails to a clients spam box they aren't going to be happy about it. Now Google has decided if you put 100,000 pointless links up there they are going to call that spam as well and they are going to treat it differently. So you have turned what was a good relationship into a bad relationship and good links into bad links; it's just a function of marketing.
What would your advice be for companies wanting to benefit from using Google and SEO in terms of good rankings; from outside the perspective of links and Majestic SEO and just from someone with so much knowledge from the industry. What key tips could you offer?
I think for me the real trick is number one; find the influences in the industry. If you're into broadband then find the person who blogs for Richard Branson, or whoever blogs for BT and get to know these people or the prominent industry bloggers. It is highly unlikely that there are going to be thousands. You can check these people with their account score, peer index, Twitter follower numbers and see if users engage with these people. Then make sure you go and build a relationship with these people.
Majestic SEO is interested in the SEO industry so when I send out a press release I don't send it out to the BBC, I send it out to Bas van des Beld at State of Search or Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable or Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. These are the people that influence the industry and if you can't give them good content or allow them the opportunity to make use of that good content then there was no point in creating it.
In terms of Majestic SEO's plans for the near future, could you give some upcoming highlights for the benefit of your fanbase?
Well, I can't give too much away as it seems everytime we come out with something out competitors seem to try and create something similar (laughs). I think that we have been instrumental in 2012 in developing new functionality and backing history charts over short time periods so you can see what happens to any website over time. We also brought out Flowmetrics last year and I think those are really exciting. Flowmetrics for those who don't know are two scores at the moment, we have Citation flow and Trust flow; two scores between 100 for every URL. Citation flow in very short terms is an idea of a link quality to a URL and Trust flow is the concept of the trust of those links to that URL.
The maths behind Flowmetrics is quite complicated, but the methodology we are using gives us the opportunity to expand in other areas, so we don't have to stick to the two metrics we have got now, we can intrinsically use this information with different starting points and bits of information to come up with new ideas of how to qualitatively understand a URL perhaps within context; around the anchor text for example. As we move through 2013 we move from a more quantitative analysis of what a URL is worth to a more qualitative analysis.
At Kalexiko, we offer SEO solutions as one of our services, therefore we understand when building links that good link profile is very important. When using Majestic SEO all the information regarding this all given to you, so we're looking forward to seeing what Majestic SEO can bring to it's fans in 2013 obviously virtually all webmasters know and use Majestic SEO regularly, how will you outdo your current level of service?
What is interesting is the knowledge divide between those using the freebie and the those using the paid data. When you delve into the paid data some of the stuff you can use within the paid system is really good. For example, a system we have had for three years is Clique Hunter. Clique Hunter will allow you put up to ten web pages into your favourite search engine and you can put in a keyword and come back with ten URL's that appear there. If you put those into Clique Hunter it will show you all of the URL's that link to 3, 4 or 5 of those results.
Now that gives you hubs of authority as it shows where the search engine has decided that there is a relationship between these sites and the site that is linking all of them. So the chances are that these sites are linking to multiple people in that search phrase. These are influencing that search phrase and certainly not harming it as they are still ranking in the top ten. So that gives you a really targeted place to start looking, I'm not going to say that they are all easy links to pick up, what I'm saying is those hubs of authority are specific to that keyword or that industry at least.
Thank you so much for your time, for those of you who don't know Majestic SEO are based in the same building as us, so we are very fortunate to have Majestic based near to discuss ideas and bounce off one another.
Thank you for bringing me round and having a chat and give me a shout. Its good for us to have agencies around and tell us what we are going wrong in our tracks (laughs).