The big metric mistake some rookies make

The big metric mistake some rookies make

Have you heard the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘?

Where the tailor convinced the Emporer that his outfit was amazing, but he was really naked?! 🙂

Well, there’s a backlink assessment method just like that; one that’s been hanging around since it was published on a well-known blog a few years ago.

And it’s a method that has been adopted by some SEO people with great enthusiasm, without them taking a proper look.

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(Disclaimer: with respect to the author, he states that you should use your common sense when using the method but most people don’t read that bit!).

In any case, the method never convinced me: I’ll explain why.

But first, let me tell you a dirty secret about some SEO people.

They actually like it that SEO is a cloudy subject. They like the fact that answers to your questions aren’t always easily available or clear.

And to be honest, having completed a digital marketing degree, spent years building a reputation on trust and being transparent, that bugs me a bit.

But it is what it is and I’ll continue to try to lead clients in the right direction.

So, the method that I’m talking about is the Majestic Trust Flow / Citation Flow ratio (CF/TF).

And it is one of those methods that ‘some’ SEO people love for all the wrong reasons.

Primarily because it makes them look smart, conscientious and careful without trying too hard (a bit harsh to say, but it’s true).

But like I said, if you look at the method in any depth it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

And here’s why.

Majestic have two primary link metrics you may have heard of.

  • Citation Flow (CF) – looks at backlink volume and quality to a lesser extent (Citation Flow…predicts how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it…a strong link will have a relatively stronger influence – source Majestic.com)
  • Trust Flow (TF) – looks at backlink quality (Sites closely linked to a trusted seed site can see higher scores – source Majestic.com)

And the way the CF/TF ratio method works is by dividing the two and then setting a minimum number that supposedly means a site has a clean powerful backlink profile.

Sounds sort of smart right?

Now if you’re adept at SEO and have not been living under a rock for the last few years, then you should know how Google (probably) handles measuring the quality of backlinks by now.

And you will quickly realise that the ratio method is fundamentally flawed.


Because bad or useless backlinks are mostly ignored by Google (or so many of their employees have alleged).

So why does the Citation Flow metric matter in this ratio at all if it is a link volume metric and the bad backlinks are being ignored?

You probably guessed – it doesn’t.

Google isn’t so much bothered by link volume as quality.

So, a ratio derived from dividing quality by volume is probably pointless.

It seems logical that if we are going to trust Majestic at all,  the only links that matter are those with respectable Trust Flow (commonly understood to be 10 minimum).

But marketers do love a fancy time-saving formula!

And I do too, hence why we’ve used the best of the metrics in our own formula (M-Flux), which makes more sense than just using a CF/TF ratio 🙂

You can read about the formula in the e-book I sent you or you can watch this video here.

And in case you don’t want to do that, at least use a few metrics to assess websites for backlink campaigns.

You wouldn’t buy a car without checking out the paperwork, so why place links on sites that could get you penalties?

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