Links Inspector: audit backlink profiles

More than a backlink checker, Links Inspector is a complete tool for auditing backlink profiles and internal links. An invaluable aid to find, classify and assess links value.

Links Inspector make Visual SEO Studio a powerful off-page SEO analysis tool, and more!

Once you have your pages crawled - be they a list of URLs with incoming links, or a normal site exploration - you can inspect links as you need. External, internal, inbound or outbound links, Visual SEO will help you to assess their real value.

Links Inspector summary page
Links Inspector summary page (click to enlarge)

Typical usage is a backlink profile analysis, when you inspect a crawl session made of pages coming from a list of URLs downloaded via the "Crawl URL List" feature.
If you specified as a crawl option a linked domain (recommended), that will be pre-populated in the options field, and - most important - the program will be able to assess whether the URL the link points to actually accumulates and/or distributes the received PageRank.

Nothing stops you from using to inspect all your site internal links. Just keep in mind that the number of links in even a medium-sized e-commerce can be of several millions. The program is robust and will not crash, but could take a considerable amount of your system resources, so you might want to interrupt elaboration if you experience slow-downs. In our tests the program handled the first 1-2 million URLs quite well, but all depends on your system resources.

Link search options

Links analysis can be performed to investigate various cases. The program will let you choose from several options:

Link match options
Link match options

  • Domain
    Will extract only the links pointing to the indicated domain. For example, if the indicated domain is "example.com", all links pointing to pages in "example.com" or "www.example.com" will be extracted.
  • Exact domain
    Will extract only the links pointing to the indicated hostname. For example, if the indicated domain is "blog.example.com", all links pointing to pages in "blog.example.com" will be extracted, but not those pointing to pages to - say - "www.example.com" nor "example.com".
  • Partial URL
    Will extract only the links pointing to the partial URL specified. For example, if the indicated partial URL is "www.example.com/Blog", only links pointing to pages in such folder will be extracted.
  • Exact URL
    Will extract links pointing exactly to the specified URL.
  • Exclude domain
    Will extract links not pointing to the specified domain. A typical usage scenario is when you want to locate all the external links in your site.
  • Exclude exact domain
    Will extract links not pointing to the specified hostname.

Classification of link types

Not all links were born equal, generally speaking an editorial link in a post content should be preferred to footer or side-panel site-wide links. Links Inspector comes with a powerful link type classifier to help you sort them out.

Breakdown of inbound links by link type
Breakdown of inbound links by link type (click to enlarge)

At present it can recognize the following link types:

  • Content
    A link placed within the main section of an article, blog post, page, etc...
  • Navigation
    A link placed within a navigation menu.
  • Header
    A link placed within the top part of the web page.
  • Footer
    A link placed within the site footer.
  • Sidebar
    A link placed within a side panel.
  • Signature
    A link recognized as a forum or blog comment signature.
  • Comment
    A link recognized as a forum or blog post comment.
  • Unknown
    A link the classifier has not been able to classify.

Type recognition is based on the analysis of typical "markers" found in the DOM path obtained traversing from the link anchor element up to the root.
Other than obvious link markers like some HTML5 elements (e.g. the footer element), it uses heuristics based on statistical usage of CSS classes and IDs.
Its accuracy is a trade-off with computation time. In our internal test we measured about a 95% precision, which doesn't mean that for each classified link there is a 95% confidence to be correct: it means that in about 5% of the cases the classifier was not correct, mostly because the names used for CSS classes or IDs were misleading, or because there was a conflict between two or more markers and the tool prioritized their weight based on usage statistics. If your site DOM structure falls in that percentage of weird cases, don't expect the classifier to be accurate.

The complete links list

The full list of the links matching the search criterion is a real time saver: it performs for you all the background checks to understand whether the links pass PageRank and whether it is not wasted by the receiving end.

Links Inspector links list
Links Inspector links list, several columns are hidden (click to enlarge)

Not only it shows all important attributes of each link, it also comes with three important automatically computed values:

  • Can Pass PR
    A link can flow PR if it is not "nofollow" and the page where it is is not "nofollow".
  • Destination receives PR*
    True if "Can flow PR" is true, and if the final (max 5 redirects) destination URL returns a "200 OK" status code.
  • Destination wastes PR*
    True if "Destination receives PR" is true, and if the final destination URL is "noindex" or "nofollow".

* In order to compute the value Visual SEO Studio spider must have crawled the final destination URL.
This is normally the case when the examined crawl session is a normal site crawl. In case of list of URLs (e.g. the list of URLs with inbound links taken from Google Search Console or another backlink intelligence provider), please make sure of having instructed the bot to also explore destination URLs by specifying a domain name in the "Explore also linked URLs on this domain" field. See "Crawl URL List" for further details.

You can also filter the result list to focus on the most typically interesting cases. We used a lot this feature internally during our SEO consulting work.

Links list, filtering options and helper buttons
Links list, filtering options and helper buttons (click to enlarge)

Like all grids in Visual SEO Studio, the table is exportable to Excel/CSV, its columns can be shown/hidden, all via the usual right-click context menu you obtain by clicking on the top-left gear icon. Nevertheless, we wanted to make it clearer, and thus added helper buttons in the toolbar as well.
For verified sites GSC "Search Analytics" data can be integrated as well, deciding whether to add Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position for the link source or destination URL (you can prefer one or the other, depending on what you are analyzing).

You can double check everything

Never fully trust an automated tool, as it can't replace your wonderful brain. That's why Visual SEO Studio not only gives you pre-computed values and classification results, it also permits you to cross-check everything directly from within the program - check all the normally hidden columns, and use the "Show in DOM" and "Show in code" right-click context menu options to see with your own eyes how and where the link is coded - or externally - by using the "Browse source URL" and "Browse destination URL" context menu options.

Links list, right-click context menu
Links list, right-click context menu

Breakdown graphs and grouping trees

Links Inspector helps you dissecting a link profile by grouping them based on different properties.

Breakdown by anchor text graph and grouping tree
Breakdown by anchor text graph and grouping tree.
Notice how you can copy the image (click to enlarge)

You can observe the following breakdowns:

  • by link type
  • by anchor text
  • by domain name
  • by hostname
  • by ability to pass PageRank (graph only)
  • by presence/absence of "nofollow" attribute (graph only)
  • ...and more to come

Links within a site can literally be millions, so we put a lot of care to make the inspection experience as smooth as possible. All the grouping trees are loaded on-demand as soon as you click the related tab sheet, and they load asynchronously in order not to freeze the program.

Start inspection from context menu helpers

Some specialized inspections can be launched from other parts of the program, and inspection will start automatically with a pre-set match criteria.

For example, you might want to find all URLs pointing to a specific page. On any of the available crawl session views (Crawl View, Folder View and Tabular View) you can find a right-click context menu entry named "Find all links to the URL" which will automatically launch the inspector.

An example of context menu command that can launch a link inspection
An example of context menu command that can launch a link inspection

You will find other similar context menu commands throughout Visual SEO Studio.

Note:
"Links Inspector" is available only in the Professional Edition. You can evaluate it for free for 30 days by registering the Trial version.

See also: