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Richard Baxter’s Full Input to Majestic – OSE Shootout

Picture of Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter is the founder of SEO Gadget, an SEO agency specializing in large site architecture, conversion rate optimization (CRO), keyword research, technical SEO, infographics, content development and most of all, link building in competitive industries. Catch him speaking at Mozcon on the 26th of July.

1. Freshness of data (delay between link being detected and indexed)

SEOmoz 5/10
Majestic 7/10

At the moment, SEOmoz’s index isn’t updated often in comparison to Majestic. Once every 30 days is the target, though the reality of the situation is that SEOmoz is far more intermittent than this. They’re open about the reasons behind this, and seem confident in their aspiration to bullet proof their update frequency.
There are two indexes with Majestic- historic and fresh. Majestic’s Historic index is surprisingly complete in comparison to OSE (using Google Webmaster Tools index as the baseline which tends to have a higher root domain diversity than both of these tools), but updates less frequently than their Fresh index. The fresh index is updated far more often (daily), and on the surface seems to be the best bet if you need fresher data looking back around 90 days or so. Majestic exports are excellent (particularly the date first discovered data point). Majestic is a great tool for identifying the really low-level links some domains have acquired, though the usefulness of this data is extremely variable depending on the specific case and the user’s ability to collate and analyze data. Given Majestic tends to crawl a single domain more deeply than SEOmoz, I’d put my money on the Fresh index getting there first.

2. Predictability of updates (conformance to scheduled times)

SEOmoz 2/10
Majestic 5/10

SEOMoz have been unpredictable recently, in that their target dates are missed, and usually explained with a later blog post. They’re pretty transparent on this (and let’s be fair, have been striving to achieve some pretty lofty goals given the age and experience of the startup). We were expecting an update on the 29th of June, but this appears to have been pushed back.
Majestic do update regularly. I pulled a quick comparison of a fresh index export I pulled on the 24th June compared to the same report on the 27th. Here are the numbers:

  1. Unique domains in Fresh index on 24th: 615
  2. Unique domains in Fresh index on 27th: 566

On the same domain, OSE’s export yielded 798 unique domains, though I can’t say at this stage how many of those are live. Certainly doing this comparison on a business as usual link analysis has piqued my interest. I think I’ve stumbled on a really interesting blog post as a follow-up!
I have now followed this up and have a proper opinion on the subject. Majestic Fresh tends to have a marginally lower domain diversity than Open Site Explorer’s data on the same domain. It’s marginal though- they’re very close!

3. API performance (uptime and speed of response)

SEOmoz 8/10

We don’t use Majestic’s API, yet. SEOmoz’s team is very helpful, and can adjust rate limits based on requirements. The standard rate limits are a bit slow, then again that’s a free API- so no one should be complaining. One oddity about the SEOmoz API is that if you’re a site intelligence user, you don’t get the subscription-only metrics in the standard call (for all data). You have to request them specifically. We found that to be a bit of a surprise when we were developing our own tools: I’ve found the API and associated support has improved a great deal recently.

4. Percent of links reported by Google Webmaster Tools that Majestic/Moz know about from a variety of sites

I initially had no idea so I went to check it out. Majestic Historic carries approximately two-thirds of the root domain diversity of the GWMT index. OSE and majestic fresh, around half, as a side note Majestic Fresh and OSE are about the same in terms of coverage.

Majestic - OSE Coverage

5. Percent of links reported by Moz & Majestic that still exist

SEOmoz 7/10
Majestic: 6/10

SEOmoz tend to filter for the higher quality links to their accuracy over time isn’t bad, even if their updates are infrequent.
Fresh is better than historic at this, on that note I’ll score Majestic higher than I would have if fresh didn’t exist!

Majestic Fresh Index Live Links

When I did the study (chart URL above) I’ll be honest, I was really surprised by the results from all of the tools. The largest drop off is Majestic Historic, though frankly having link data where the link is no longer live is an extremely powerful, insightful piece of data to have!

6. Correlation of key metrics (e.g. PA/DA and ACRank) with SERPs

We don’t engage in correlation scoring using those metrics as a basis, so I’m not going to score them on this basis. Both Majestic and SEOmoz produce their own studies. When we’re evaluating the quality of a link, we use the following types of metrics as a rough guide:

  • Unique linking domains to the domain
  • Unique linking c blocks to domain
  • Domain PageRank
  • DA / PA
  • Social (tweets / likes / shares / +’s) to domain

Flow rank looks really interesting and we’re definitely planning to review this in the near future.

Summary Comments

Both tools have their own strengths and weaknesses. I tend to default to OSE for its usability and ease/speed of use, and very often (several times, daily). Majestic data is good for really large scale link analysis but I always supplement it with Linkscape’s (de-duping the resultant data set), and then we supplement that with our own data! I also refer to Majestic less frequently, perhaps once or twice a month.
As I’ve noted in my study; no serious link audit should be without OSE, Majestic Historic and Google Webmaster Tools. By the way, our data shows the GWMT index has a more diverse index (significantly higher!) than both of the other tools.
It’s worth noting; ahrefs is excellent at new/lost link reporting and they have a rather handy, search metrics style ranking/visibility analysis tool. We use that extensively, too. It’s also worth pointing out that SEOmoz have a pro toolset for accessibility monitoring and social, which makes them a more complete proposition that Majestic or aHrefs.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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