Before I begin, I would like to get out of the way that we are in no way affiliated with CognitiveSEO in anyway, and the intention behind this blog post is to assist with SEO recovery using CognitiveSEO and not to promote the tool. I would do other blog posts covering how to use the other tools mentioned further on in the post, but unfortunately I do not have subscriptions with the other tools so I am unable to provide tutorials on how to do so. If I do however get an opportunity to use one of the below tools properly in future, I will ensure to create a tutorial then.
Why Choose a Backlink Analysis Tool
Over the past few years, link analysis tools have become a must have for any SEO company looking to recover a clients rankings which have been affected due to low-quality linking to the site. Tools have always been available, however more complex tools have become available over time to help websites which have been penalised by search engine algorithms such as Google Panda & Google Penguin, but also websites which have received a manual penalty by Google’s web spam team. It would once require a painstaking amount of time to research every back link to a website, but fortunately due to the technical boffins out there, it doesn’t take too much time anymore.
However, the difficult decision an SEO company must make is choosing which link analysis tool to use. There are a number of free versions available online, however the information provided from a search is basic and usually limited to a number of searches before it prompts you to pay, such as ahrefs which allows 3 queries per day and limits the amount of results provided once one of the 3 searches is made. This normally means money needs to be spent on a tool, thus meaning the tool must be worth the money spent.
Available Backlink Analysis Tools
Some companies may purchase a number of different software’s if they have the budget available as this will provide a more refined list of backlinks, however this can be expensive and sometimes unnecessary. So, what software should you choose and why?
The most popular backlink analysis tools available today are:
- Open Site Explorer
- Majestic SEO
Each comes with their own data, their own website layout, their own unique features and their own pricing plans. However, the problem is it requires having a subscription from all 3 of these tools to get a proper list together, which is important when working on removing as many low-quality links as possible.
I personally believed there would be a tool available which was both inexpensive and provided me with the data I needed, which fortunately after some researching, I did. CognitiveSEO was at the time a tool which didn’t really have much information about online apart from their own blog, so it was a risk to pay to use the tool, but the fact they offered migration of data from the 3 backlink data sources (Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO & Ahrefs) as well as others, I thought why not!
So How Do I Use It?
Every website I have worked on to recover the rankings for has been done through using CognitiveSEO, which is mainly down to a number of key features.
- The ability to import backlinks provided by Google Webmasters
- The identification of each anchor text used from a website to link back to the website
- The ability to tick whether a domain/link should be disavowed
- The ability to download all links which have been disavowed into a spreadsheet
Importing Backlinks Provided by Google Webmasters
Importing backlinks downloaded from Google Webmasters is an important feature for me. This is because Google have said since the disavow tool was originally released that the links which that should mainly be focused on for disavowing/removing are the links listed in the “Links To Your Site” reported in the Google Webmasters assigned to a website. This method, since it was originally stated, has become more dependable due to changes which were made to the links provided when downloading the reported links from Google Webmasters.
However, for people such as myself who prefer to go that extra mile, by having both CognitiveSEO and Google identify backlinks together means the two tools will cover much more links and allow CognitiveSEO to identify more data based on the sites provided by Google.
Identifying Anchor Texts
1 area we focus on when recovering websites rankings is the anchor texts used when linking back to a website. If the majority of sites linking back to the site are anchor text heavy, chances are they have been penalised because of these links. This is why it is important to use that we are able to identify which sites links which what anchor text so we can filter these sites down to then identify sites with other factors that will further attribute to a penalty.
To go through each of these websites manually can take time, which is why fortunately CognitiveSEO comes geared with a large number of filters which can be used to filter sites down to a particular anchor text and then have a disavow tag to aid with the next part of this blog post.
When using CognitiveSEO to analyse a websites backlinks in depth, it requires a campaign to be set up for each domain which is the available from the creation onwards. This means if you are to return to further disavowing/removing links for a domain, you are able to see where you got to previously.
I find that by adding a disavow tag to every domain that I will be disavowing/removing helps me identify what links I identified originally, should I in future disagree with a particular website selected or wonder why I hadn’t chosen a domain which had not been tagged with disavow.
This is useful if you have multiple people who are working together to recover the websites rankings, as it allows the team to know exactly what the situation is from just looking at the campaign.
Once all links reported have been checked, CognitiveSEO provide a download feature to download all links with the assigned disavow tag. This helps with not only creating a disavow file to upload, but to also create a spreadsheet for contacting the webmasters. There is some editing required to make the spreadsheet more user friendly depending on what you like to cover when contacting a webmaster, such as the contacts name, email address, phone number, date they were contacted, etc. The more information you can provide, the better chance of having your websites rankings recovered.
This blog post merely covers areas we use in CognitiveSEO when recovering a website, however I plan on creating a follow up blog post with an actual case study of how we used CognitiveSEO from the beginning to the end and noticed an improvement in rankings.