Links with Dixon Jones of Majestic

by Jim September 11, 2019

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dixon Jones this week from Majestic. Majestic is a leading link-mapping tool that you can use to glean information to get ahead of the competition. They are launching a new product and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at its features.

What I learned

  • Majestic have increased their data centre to deliver something new to market
  • Majestic is an invaluable SEO tool
  • Why links are still viewed with suspicion
  • The difference between internal and external links
  • How do we know if a link is good quality?
  • What makes Majestic’s new product so good.

Transcript

Jim: Welcome how are you?

Dixon: Good thanks.

Jim: So I’m sitting here with Dixon Jones and this is the second time we’ve met recently the last time was yesterday.

Dixon: Yeah well that happens.

Jim: Thanks to Skype audio. That conversation we had could have gone on for another hour or so anyway, and from it I’ve had a lot of questions overnight and I’ve had a lot of questions from staff and why don’t you tell us first about yourself what you do and then we’ll get into some of the stuff that you’re doing.

Dixon: All right. So for those who don’t know me I’m best known for bringing Majestic to the market. The link tool. So it’s a backlink ruler now I did that for about 10 years and then a couple of years ago I started moving back from that so I’m no longer involved in it day to day but I’m still an ambassador, brand ambassador at conferences and that kind of thing. I haven’t been to the office all week but actually they dragged me up to the office last week to show me what they were working on and it kind of blew me away and if you like I’ll show it to you. I just saw truckloads of computers arriving at the office where they’re making computers and stuff to do it. They’ve increased the data center and everything to bring something new to the backlink stuff, which is pretty exciting actually.

Jim: It’s going to sound like an editorial because you’re so excited about it! But it’s a very useful tool and one that needs to be talked about and one certainly that I think a lot of SEOs are gonna be upset about because I’ve already had this sneak peek. So I don’t know if you can share your screen now but I think it’ll be good to have a look at it and just get right into it and discuss it, because it opens up a lot of questions and I’m sure there’ll be people challenging it.

Dixon: Before I open up the screen, you know you make the very valid point that you know people are somewhat suspicious of links or some people are suspicious of links, and I think the reason for it has been that although the tools like ourselves and Ahrefs and Moz and lately SEMrush have all been collecting and recording backlinks to web pages. They’ve done two things relatively badly. I mean the first is not really understood that a link on a web page can be an internal link or an external link, and if it’s an external link to another website, okay that’s just one of a hundred links on the page and if there’s 100 other links on the page even if those other hundred are internal links that’s gonna have an impact on the link.

Jim: Can you just explain the impact on the link? Because what you’re talking about there is essentially not the density.

Dixon: I come to link density because that’s an interesting idea. The original thing was PaidRank course, so if we just forget random surfer models and other bits and pieces but we will talk about that as well if you want. The original PageRank algorithm sat there and said right, you’ve got this page and it’s worth this, we’re going to give it a dampening factor of point one five and then we’re going to divide the rest by all the other links and then pass that score to other pages on the web. So wherever those pages link to, whether they’re internal or external. So if you had a hundred other page links on the page that would make a big difference to how much of the power it would give to the link to your website, if you see what I mean. So that’s one part of it. The other part of it is that I think that Google for a long time you know they came out with a patent called the random surfer patent and they’ve started to say quite a long time back things like you know if you’ve got it in the navigation that’s a different kind of thing, we’re in the footer that’s a different kind of thing to if it’s in the context of the page, and a reasonable surfer will not click on all the links with the same kind of value. But then you’ve got to say well in that case how do we create a formula that works out how people are clicking on pages and whether a link is good or not and that’s really where the stuff comes in you know. I think we’ve now cracked it and I think you can just see it visually on the screen, you don’t have to argue whether they’re right or wrong. There’s been a huge increase so let me show the screen here. I’ll show the viewers what it is that has changed and I think it’s kind of changed the way in which we look at links because I’ve taken R U OK? Which is a big charity in Australia right?

Jim: Yep, mental health.

Dixon: Okay, so what Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz sort of tend to do is have a list of backlink information. So this is ours, it’s got yellow.com, Black Dog Institute, Man Shed, and these are the links that are going from other websites in the world to ruok.org.au. Okay? And so you know it says something about the strength of the page and stuff and we did have some internal information so this page on yellow.com has a total of 90 links on the page of which you know 69 are internal and 21 are external. So we had some information about all of that, but the problem was you didn’t know much about the other links, you didn’t know where it was on the page so – what Majestic has done and this is what took truckloads of computers is they’ve changed that list to this thing, which is called link context and so they’ve changed the whole look. So it’s the same list, yellow.com, Black Dog Institute, Man Shed, Sensis.com, but this layout after about you know a couple of minutes of figuring out what on earth we’re showing here totally changes the way that you look at the links. So the first thing is that we now have the link in context literally, so we’re seeing what text is around the link, so you know this is where the page is. The bidding green is what you’re looking for, so the anchor text for this particular link is R U OK? and it’s surrounded with a bunch of text. So this has what we’re calling a zero link density, in other words the percentage of content that surrounds the anchor text or the primary anchor text and link, how much of that is links? And the answer is zero because there are no other links immediately around the page. If I go to another one for example where we’ve got a 76 link density, and we got the link here and around you can see these dotted lines, hopefully comes through on the screen, are all the other links. So this one has links all around it so it’s just surrounded by links. So the Australian Men’s Shed Association clearly now you can see from the URL this is just a supporters page, it’s just a list of links and it’s going to make a big difference to the context of R U OK?’s link in that picture. So you know that for a start turns it into something really powerful and if you want to you can see the actual mark-up underneath there that we called to get that. You can hover over these things and see which ones are internal links and which ones are external links. So that brings it alive without having to go to the page, without having to look at all the individual stuff, and also there’s images and stuff in here as well. But the really clever bit I think is this chart over here. And this chart over here has totally changed things because what Majestic have done is they’ve taken the HTML of every single page on the web and they’ve chunked it, so they’ve put it into 40 different separate chunks, so as you’re looking at this chart here you’re going down the page so the top two and a half percent of the HTML has five internal links because the blue is the internal links. So down here, right down the bottom you’ve got a few internal links in the bottom two and a half percent of the page, in the middle there’s some internal links, and this green line again we’re looking at green says that the link to R U OK? on this page is right near the top of the page, so immediately on these things you can see where the link is on the page and how many other links are around it, so these blue lines are internal, the yellow is external, and so these charts then make up a fantastic understanding of the link literally in context so that makes sense. Jim did I explain that ok?

Jim: Yeah, sorry I mean the first time through I was like, “What the hell am I looking at?” But I think what’s important here for me, I don’t think you’ve told us how you get here, I don’t think you’ve mentioned how you cut up the page. I thought that was very interesting.

Dixon: Yeah okay, I probably did but I probably went through it pretty quick.

Jim: Well I mean I think that was interesting for me because the way that you cut up the page into, was it how many chunks? 44 chunks?

Dixon: 40 chunks. So two-and-a-half percent.

Jim: Yes. So you’re not necessarily eliminating internal linking as some part of the value that the link on the page actually has. Whereas you’re counting that. I guess one of the questions I have about it is its value in the eyes of the search engine only, really although from a user’s perspective.

Dixon: I think the thing is by doing this we’ve proved to ourselves at least and hopefully to the rest of the world that it’s actually possible for a search engine to analyse a webpage in a machine-readable form where they can sit there and quite easily see the difference between links that are likely to be in line with the real text and are likely to be you know in the flow of the user versus those that are going to be navigational the top and the bottom, and also with it with the stuff around it being able to see that stuff around it you know, it’s now a machine-readable bit of information.

Jim: The thing I like about it is you can quickly see from my perspective, because the way I look at the value of links is what value do they deliver? And you can quickly see just by looking at that visually that Yellow Pages one is great, that Black Dog Institute one…

Dixon: That one’s not so great because it’s further down on the page, 78% from the top, its link number 869 on the page.

Jim: But that’s a good link right? Like if I wanted the traffic from that, that’s probably a good link from that site.

Dixon: You’d think it was, but because it’s so far down the page it’s not likely to be quite as good as you think. But that said, it is nicely done with a good sentence and not too much faff around it. It looks like it’s a whole page on you know wellbeing in the workplace and then it’s got a resource for you R U OK? But it’s still further down on the page, it’s nowhere near as good as the Yellow Pages one. And this is the funny thing right, because as you know I’m not a big fan of Yellow Pages links, I mean you know they are Yellow Pages links.

Jim: Certainly everyone gets traffic from Yellow Pages.

Dixon: But this one’s a totally different game because if you go to the yellowpages.com home page you’re gonna see that they are putting the whole resources of yellow.com. into that.

Jim: I’m going to look into the context of what the words around it are. “When you click to purchase a Yellow Online listing.” When you just look at it that way that doesn’t read that well.

Dixon: Well yeah, but you know you’re gonna get a lot of people clicking on that because you know they kind of want to see more about that. Let’s look at the URL. This is my lag time looking at Australian websites from the UK. So here it is. Yellow is proud to sponsor the partnership R U OK? I mean it’s right there. You’ve got the heading of yellow.com and then their big sell line is sponsoring R U OK? It’s even before they sell their product. It’s brilliant! It’s on the home page as well, so you know it’s a good link. The point is you can’t just redo a link analysis system to do this. They have to record you know instead of one file for every web page, it needs 40 separate files for every web page, really to break this up and understand it. Anyway I’m gonna come off of my Majestic thing there I will come back to you.

Jim: Well that was fascinating Dixon and I hope we can do this again and people should get out and have a go with the tool and see what they think.

Dixon: I hope we can talk about entities and stuff in the future.

Jim: Man I’d love to do that. There’s a lot we can talk about there. Anyway see you soon.

Dixon: Thanks Jim. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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