Shimon Sandler

Backlink Analysis: Root Domains vs Total Links

Ever wonder why small websites often outrank large websites? There are many factors that affect keyword ranking. But, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to talk about using only OpenSiteExplorer to examine backlinks.

A lot of the time a smaller site can outrank a larger site is from the inbound link profile. Even though a large brand might have more inbound links, they might not be optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. The smaller site could be doing a better job in looking like the authority to Google from inbound linking.

To begin, we need to understand what a root domain is. A root domain is just the domain name .com. Everything after the .com isn’t the root anymore. So for example, if you got a sitewide footer link on MTV, your textlink would be on millions of pages. But, only 1 root domain.

You can use OpenSiteExplorer to examine root domains vs total links. You can do this a couple of ways. By either analyzing the domains ONLY. Or, first see which URL appears in the SERP’s for the keyword. Then, use OpenSite Explorer to analyze the root domains vs total links on the specific page that’s ranking. Sometimes this doesn’t tell the whole story because a site can have the keyword as the domain name, like Diapers.com.

Randomly, I’ve chosen to look at the #1 and #2 ranking websites for “funny videos”.
Here is a screenshot of the Google Search results page (SERP):
funny videos

Here is the domain comparison:
break vs funnyordie - domain comparison

We’ll use OpenSiteExplorer again to analyze the Anchor Text Distribution of Break.com:
break.com anchor text links

In case you can’t read the image above, Break.com has:
Total Links containing the exact text 24,169.
Linking root domains containing exact anchor text is 3026.

Here is the Anchor Text Distribution for FunnyorDie:
funnyordie anchor text links

In case you can’t read the image above, FunnyorDie has:
Total Links containing the exact text 20,343.
Linking root domains containing exact anchor text is 4351.

The argument can be made, that although a large amount of linking root domains is important to ranking well, it’s more important to outnumber them in Total Links containing the exact anchor text.

It’s really not this simple anymore. Don’t be deceived to think that all it takes to rank well is to just get more optimized textlinks. Google Mayday changed the rules. Google Mayday was a very significant algorithm update in 2010, which included over 500 changes regarding relevancy score calculations.

Now, it’s become imperative to generate a more diversified pattern of inbound links from authoritative, relevant websites than your competition. And, those links need to deep link into your website, not just the homepage.

Also, it’s not just about Total links. There is a heavy emphasis on the number of root domains. I’ve seen similar competitive websites in various industries, and a 5:1 ratio seems to be the sweet spot for ranking. 5 links to every root domain.

Needless to say, Link development and SEO Consulting have become more complex as time goes by. I want to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck. Go get’em tiger. Happy linking :-)

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Comments

  1. Great so in order to beat our competitor’s we need to get not only more targeted anchor text, but more diverse links than our competitors, and a higher number of root domain links?

  2. You’ll also need more deep linking to all levels of pages. There is really so much more… such as structuring the inbound links to appear natural, and mixing up the anchor text, and all the other metrics to analyze when examining a site for a link. This post isn’t a best practices of link building. It’s just one method to examine root domains vs total links. And, to inform you of the ideal 5:1 ratio.

    By the way, The Doors have a great song called “Five to One”.

  3. I’m not so sure about 5:1 but I agree with other stuff. Good post.

  4. Although I understood what you were trying to say, I don’t think the example supported it. Break is #1 with an 8:1 ratio and less root domain than Funny or Die.

  5. @ken
    There’s lots and lots of metrics that go into competitive rankings. A big factor is anchor text distribution. A site with optimized anchor text could rank #1 for a specific keyword without having more root domains or total links than the competitors. It’s highly dependent on your competitive set. Again, lot’s of factors in play.

  6. Hey Shimon, I haven’t visited since 2009… you’ve done a GREAT job with this site. I’m going to start reading for good tips. I just read the NY Times article on Matt Cutts doing manual downgrades on JC Penny for obvious link buying. It’s funny how the 200 or more factors in “the algorithm” work together sometimes. Like how could Google NOT know many of the #1 ranked organic results were artificially inflated with purchased links that are so NOT relevant to the page they are paid to link to. And most of these paid links of course are from root URL’s. Go figure. Regards – Mal

  7. Thanks for sharing this, i was looking for a site which give backlinks with that same script of Opensiteexplorer but without paying to see results.

  8. Silly question… If you have a link coming from a site but not it’s home page, is it still a linking root domain?

  9. Thank you for the information. I’m looking to increase the organic search results for my website and I’m gathering as much information as possible. Thanks again for your information

  10. Great post & comments – thank you all! Is there any information regarding the optimal diversified pattern of inbound links to rank?

    Thanks!

  11. I am also not sure about the 5:1 ration but I agree with everything else, but keeping in mind that Google will keep working on improving their algo and things will change again at anytime, so it is important to keep a natural backlink profile and when doing linkbuilding do not only do it for rankings, but also for traffic and for branding.

    GREAT pots Shimon!

    Manny

  12. Very kind information, which is useful to make best marketing

  13. Top 10 Most important factors
    1. Robots.txt excluded page (DF) – 4.75
    2. Anchor text – 4.56
    3. Link is on penalized page (DF) – 4.50
    4. Page authority (in inbound links) – 4.38
    5. Domain authority (in quality of backlinks) – 4.38
    6. Amount of outbound links on page – 4.25
    7. Total amount of links on page – 4.06
    8. Age of domain – 4.06
    9. Relevant authority (in rankings on relevant keywords) – 3.94
    10. Javascript link (DF) – 3.88

    • Thanks MusicOnGo .
      I’m learning and make SEO but I don’t see top 10 Most important factors .
      I must adjust again 10 factors this page .

  14. Interesting to read the 5:1 rule/assumption.

  15. Very nice article – helps to understand better the complexities of SEO

  16. Nice points.
    Quality should not be jeopardize at the stake of SEO.
    How far does the ratio 5:1 hold true, any feedback on it?

  17. Helped me alot in increasing the on page links ! Thanks ..well written guide

  18. Very nice post .Really i come to understand the point of linking root domains and total links . As you have mentioned root domain is just .co so if we are putting inner pages of the websites on other blogs ans websites then is it not considered as root domain and please put a light in which ratio we have to maintain the work of home page and other pages and is linking root domain is that we are putting only our url in simple form Or is it is anchor text form also?

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  20. It seems like they change SEO every 6 months to a year. I don’t think we will ever know all the factors of how they rank seo.

  21. I am also not sure about the 5:1 ration but I agree with everything else, but keeping in mind that Google will keep working on improving their algo and things will change again at anytime, so it is important to keep a natural backlink profile and when doing linkbuilding do not only do it for rankings, but also for traffic and for branding.

  22. Great analysis Shimon, lots have changed since the updates Google has rolled up, especially domain name keyword update.

  23. Great analysis Shimon, lots have changed since the updates Google has rolled up, especially domain name keyword update.

  24. This is now 2 yeasr old, after recent google updates I believe things changed dramaticly, now number of root domain worth more than total number of links, and more so 1 very good link worth much more than hundreds of bad ones.

    just my thinking, by.

  25. I was wondering why all my new link root domains weren’t showing up? Didn’t realize it takes a few months.

  26. Great advise. Here at Mystro we are always on the lookout for interesteing and relevant information to keep our link building strong and up to date with our SEO strategy.

  27. Jermmy says:

    Great post, i like your idea, and to the people who is doing seo now, finding a good backlinks checker is very important, and it will be perfect if the tool is free and no limit, now i have one like that it is totally free, this means you can know all the backlinks without costing one coin.

  28. SEO is dominating Search Engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing. Root Domains come under the Off-Page optimization and link building, is one of its old and useful practice. Thanks for sharing this great post.

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